United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING RENEWED ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL
Re: Dkt. No. 247
H. KOH, United States District Judge
the Court is the parties' “Renewed Administrative
Motion to Seal Plaintiffs' Opposition to Ford's
Motion for Summary Judgment and to Correct Redactions
Contained in the Opposition and Certain Exhibits to that
Opposition.” ECF No. 247.
courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and
copy public records and documents, including judicial records
and documents.'” Kamakana v. City & Cnty.
of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435
U.S. 589, 597 & n.7 (1978)). Thus, when considering a
sealing request, “a strong presumption in favor of
access is the starting point.” Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted).
seeking to seal judicial records relating to motions that are
“more than tangentially related to the underlying cause
of action, ” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler
Grp., 809 F.3d 1092, 1099 (9th Cir. 2016), bear the
burden of overcoming the presumption with “compelling
reasons supported by specific factual findings” that
outweigh the general history of access and the public
policies favoring disclosure. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at
1178-79 (9th Cir. 2006). Compelling reasons justifying the
sealing of court records generally exist “when such
‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper
purposes, ' such as the use of records to gratify private
spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements,
or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179
(quoting Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598). However,
“[t]he mere fact that the production of records may
lead to a litigant's embarrassment, incrimination, or
exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel
the court to seal its records.” Id.
attached to motions that are “not related, or only
tangentially related, to the merits of a case, ” are
not subject to the strong presumption of access. Ctr. for
Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1099; see also
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (“[T]he public has less
of a need for access to court records attached only to
non-dispositive motions because those documents are often
unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying
cause of action.” (internal quotation marks omitted)).
Parties moving to seal records attached to motions unrelated
or only tangentially related to the merits of a case must
meet the lower “good cause” standard of Rule
26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Ctr. for
Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1098-99; Kamakana, 447
F.3d at 1179-80. The “good cause” standard
requires a “particularized showing” that
“specific prejudice or harm will result” if the
information is disclosed. Phillips v. Gen. Motors
Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 2002);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations
of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated
reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc.
v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir.
to Rule 26(c), a trial court has broad discretion to permit
sealing of court documents for, inter alia, the protection of
“a trade secret or other confidential research,
development, or commercial information.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c)(1)(G). The Ninth Circuit has adopted the definition of
“trade secrets” set forth in the Restatement of
Torts, holding that “[a] trade secret may consist of
any formula, pattern, device or compilation of information
which is used in one's business, and which gives him an
opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do
not know or use it.” Clark v. Bunker, 453 F.2d
1006, 1009 (9th Cir. 1972) (quoting Restatement (First) of
Torts § 757 cmt. b). “Generally [a trade secret]
relates to the production of goods. . . . It may, however,
relate to the sale of goods or to other operations in the
business. . . .” Id. (ellipses in original).
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that
sealing may be justified to prevent judicial documents from
being used “as sources of business information that
might harm a litigant's competitive standing.”
Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598.
addition, parties moving to seal documents must comply with
the procedures establishe by Civil Local Rule 79-5. Pursuant
to that rule, a sealing order is appropriate only upon a
request that establishes the document is “sealable,
” or “privileged, protectable as a trade secret
or otherwise entitled to protection under the law.”
Civ. L. R. 79-5(b). “The request must be narrowly
tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material, and must
conform with Civil L.R. 79-5(d).” Id. Civil
Local Rule 79-5(d), moreover, requires the submitting party
to attach a “proposed order that is narrowly tailored
to seal only the sealable material” and that
“lists in table format each document or portion thereof
that is sought to be sealed, ” as well as an
“unredacted version of the document” that
“indicate[s], by highlighting or other clear method,
the portions of the document that have been omitted from the
redacted version.” Id. R. 79-5(d)(1).
instant motion to seal was made in connection with a motion
for summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment is a
dispositive motion and is “more than tangentially
related to the underlying cause of action.” Ctr.
for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1099. Therefore, the
compelling reasons standard applies to the instant motion to
seal. See In re Incretin-Based Therapies Prod. Liab.
Litig., 2015 WL 11658712, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 18,
2015) (“The strong presumption of access to judicial
records applies fully to dispositive pleadings, including
motions for summary judgment and related
instant motion, the parties seek to file under seal only
those portions of documents which the Court previously sealed
in connection with the motion for class certification. ECF
No. 223. In granting the motion to seal these portions of
documents in connection with the motion for class
certification, the Court found that compelling reasons
existed to seal the information. Id. at 5-7. The
Court has reviewed the requested redactions in the instant
motion and has confirmed that the requested redactions
include only those portions that the Court sealed in
connection with the motion for class certification.
See ECF No. 247 (describing the replacement of
filings in opposition to summary judgment to conform to the
Court's earlier sealing order).
because compelling reasons exist to seal the requested
information, the Court GRANTS the parties' administrative
motion to seal.