United States District Court, S.D. California
LOU BAKER, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, et al., Plaintiffs,
SEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT, INC., et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR RULING ON OBJECTIONS TO
DEFENDANTS' CONFIDENTIALITY DESIGNATIONS [DOC. NO.
MICHAEL M. ANELLO United States District Judge
Plaintiffs Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System and
Pensionskassen for Børne-Og UngdomspÃ¦dagoger
(collectively, “Plaintiffs”) move to unseal
certain documents filed in support of their pending motion
for class certification and previously designated as
confidential by Defendants SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., The
Blackstone Group L.P., James Atchison, James M. Heaney, and
Marc Swanson (collectively, “Defendants”).
See Doc. No. 214. Defendants filed an opposition to
Plaintiffs' motion, to which Plaintiffs replied.
See Doc. Nos. 216, 217. The Court found the matter
suitable for determination on the papers and without oral
argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. See
Doc. No. 205. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' motion.
January 12, 2017, the assigned magistrate judge granted the
parties' joint motion and entered the Protective Order in
this action. See Doc. No. 158. The Protective Order
permits a producing party to “designate as
‘Confidential' information that has not been made
public and that the Disclosing Party believes in good faith
constitutes a trade secret or other confidential research,
development or commercial information, specifically including
any information for which applicable federal, state or
foreign law requires confidential treatment.”
Id. ¶ 4. Once a party designates a document or
information as confidential, the party must file such
information under seal if the party wishes to present the
evidence to the Court. Id. ¶ 16.
Protective Order allows for a party to object to
another's designation of information as
“Confidential” at “any stage in the
proceedings” by providing written notification to
counsel for the designating party. Id. ¶ 15.
“If the dispute is not resolved consensually between
the parties within fifteen (15) days of receipt of such
notice of objection, the objecting party may move the Court
for a ruling on the objection.” Id.
filed their Motion for Class Certification on May 19, 2017,
and in support of their motion, Plaintiffs attached eighteen
(18) exhibits, which have all been designated as
“Confidential” under the Protective Order.
See Doc. No. 213. Pursuant to the procedure set
forth in the Protective Order, Plaintiffs moved to file under
seal certain documents and exhibits in support of their
Motion for Class Certification and Motion for Ruling on
Objections to Defendants' Confidentiality Designations.
See Doc. Nos. 187, 195, 203. In light of the
Protective Order, the Court granted Plaintiffs' motions,
subject to either party's right to object. See
Doc. No. 212.
now object to Defendants' confidentiality designations as
to Exhibits 1- 18 (hereinafter “Confidential
Materials”), and argue that these exhibits do not
qualify for confidential treatment. See Doc. No. 214
at 4. Pursuant to the Protective Order, Plaintiffs served
Defendants with objections to Defendants' confidentiality
designations on June 16, 2017. See Doc. No. 214-2.
Because the parties were unable to resolve the dispute within
fifteen (15) days of Plaintiffs' objections, Plaintiffs
filed the instant motion. Plaintiffs request the Court issue
an order: 1) sustaining Plaintiffs' objections; 2)
requiring Defendants to de-designate the Confidential
Materials and reproduce them with the
“Confidential” bates-stamps removed; and 3)
directing the Clerk of Court to docket Plaintiffs' motion
for class certification “in an unrestricted and
publicly accessible manner on the Court's public
docket.” Doc. No. 214 at 12.
have historically recognized a “general right to
inspect and copy public records and documents, including
judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner
Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 n.7 (1978).
“Unless a particular court record is one
‘traditionally kept secret, ' a ‘strong
presumption in favor of access is the starting point.”
Kamakana v. City and Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d
1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir.
2003)). “The presumption of access is ‘based on
the need for federal courts, although independent- indeed,
particularly because they are independent-to have a measure
of accountability and for the public to have confidence in
the administration of justice.” Ctr. for Auto
Safety v. Chrysler Group, LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1096 (9th
Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v. Amodeo, 71 F.3d
1044, 1048 (2d Cir. 1995)).
party moves to file under seal a motion or documents attached
to a motion, the focus is on the underlying motion and
whether it is “more than tangentially related to the
underlying cause of action.” Ctr. for Auto
Safety, 809 F.3d at 1099. If the motion is more than
tangentially related to the merits, the movant must show
compelling reasons for overcoming the presumption in favor of
public access. See Id. at 1096-99. Otherwise, a
party need only show good cause. See Id. The party
must present “articulable facts” identifying the
interests favoring continued secrecy, and show that these
specific interests overcome “the presumption of access
by outweighing the public interest in understanding the
judicial process.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1181.
Whether the Confidential Materials are Integral to the Merits
of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification
initial matter, Defendants argue the Confidential Materials
are irrelevant to Plaintiffs' motion for class
certification and “serve exclusively as extraneous
information in the background section of a brief.” Doc.
No. 216 at 6. As such, Defendants claim they need only
satisfy the “good cause” standard in order to
keep the Confidential Materials under seal. See Id.
In response, Plaintiffs contend that in the Ninth Circuit, as
long as the documents “speak to the elements of the
underlying causes of action, ” the documents at issue
need not be integral to the merits of the pending motion.
Doc. No. 217 at 10.
the Court finds that Defendants' relevance argument is
misplaced. Notably, the cases Defendants rely upon from the
Northern District of California pre-date the Ninth
Circuit's decision in Center for Auto Safety. In
G&C Auto Body Incorporated v. Geico General Insurance
Company, a case heavily relied upon by Defendants, the
district court found that the information “at issue
constitutes extraneous material attached to a dispositive
motion, and should not be considered a judicial document
subject to the heightened ‘compelling reasons'
standard.” 2008 WL 687372, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 11,
2008) (citing McConnell v. Fed. Election Comm'n,
251 F.Supp.2d ...