United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING EX PARTE APPLICATION TO FIL E EXHIBITS
UNDER SEAL (ECF No. 25.) ORDER FOR CLERK TO FILE AND SEAL
EXHIBITS B AND C TO DEFENDANT EYIUCHE'S DECLARATION IN
SUPPORT OF AMENDED MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Cranford (“Plaintiff”) is a civil detainee
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil
rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case
now proceeds with Plaintiff's original Complaint, filed
on June 6, 2016, against defendant Dunu Eyiuche (RN)
(“Defendant”) for violation of equal protection
under the Fourteenth Amendment. (ECF No. 1.)
October 18, 2017, Defendant filed a motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 19.) Also on October 18, 2017, Defendant
filed an ex parte application to seal exhibits in support of
the motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 20.) On October 25,
2017, Defendant filed an amended motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 22.) Because the motion for summary judgment was
amended, the court denied the prior application to seal as
moot. (ECF No. 24.)
October 27, 2017, Defendant filed notice of an ex parte
application to seal exhibits in support of the
amended motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 25.)
Also on October 27, 2017, Defendant emailed chambers an
in camera ex parte application to seal the following
documents identified in the public notice of the application
to seal: Exhibits B and C to Eyiuche's Declaration in
Support of Amended Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff was
served with Defendant's notice, application, exhibits,
and proposed order on or about October 27, 2017, but has not
filed an opposition.
courts have recognized a strong presumption that judicial
records are accessible to the public. Kamakana v. City
and County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir.
2006). “Unless a particular court record is one
‘traditionally kept secret, ' a ‘strong
presumption in favor of access' is the starting
point.” Id. (quoting Foltz v. State Farm
Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir.
2003). Generally, if a party seeks to seal a judicial record,
the party bears the burden of overcoming this presumption by
articulating “compelling reasons supported by specific
factual findings” to justify sealing the records at
issue. Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(d), a court “may
order that a filing be made under seal without redaction,
” and the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the
decision to seal documents is “one best left to the
sound discretion of the trial court, a discretion to be
exercised in light of the relevant facts and circumstances of
the particular case, ” Nixon v. Warner
Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 599, 98 S.Ct. 1306,
1312 (1978). Courts should consider “the interests [of]
the parties in light of the public interest and the duty of
the courts.” Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d
1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995) (quoting Nixon, 435 U.S.
the ‘compelling reasons' standard, a district court
must weigh ‘relevant factors, ' base its decision
‘on a compelling reason, ' and ‘articulate
the factual basis for its ruling, without relying on
hypothesis or conjecture.'” Pintos v. Pacific
Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 679 (9th Cir. 2010)
(quoting Hagestad, 49 F.3d at 1434). In general,
when “‘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, ” there
are “compelling reasons” sufficient to outweigh
the public's interest in disclosure. Kamekana,
447 F.3d at 1179 (internal citations and alterations
omitted). 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. (citing Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1136.
DEFENDANT'S APPLICATION TO SEAL EXHIBITS
expresses a need to disclose a portion of Plaintiff's
medical records, submitted as Exhibits B and C, to the court
as evidence in support of her amended motion for summary
judgment. Defendant argues that good cause exists to seal the
records, under the court's inherent supervisory authority
over its own records and under Local Rule 141, to allow the
court to discretely consider this evidence without releasing
Plaintiff's confidential information to the public.
court recognizes that the need to protect medical privacy has
qualified as a “compelling reason, ” for sealing
records in connection with a dispositive motion.
See, e.g., San Ramon Reg'l Med.
Ctr., Inc. v. Principal Life Ins. Co., No. C 10-02258
SBA, 2011 WL 89931, at *1 n. 1 (N.D.Cal. Jan.10, 2011);
Abbey v. Hawaii Emp'r Mut. Ins. Co., Civil No.
09-000545 SOM/BMK, 2010 WL 4715793, at * 1-2 (D.Haw. Nov.15,
2010); Wilkins v. Ahern, No. C 08- 1084 MMC (PR),
2010 WL 3755654, at *4 (N.D.Cal. Sept.24, 2010);
Lombardi v. Tri West Healthcare Alliance Corp., 2009
WL 1212170, at *1 (D.Ariz. May 4, 2009); Battle v.
Martinez, 2:16-cv-0411-TLN-CKD, 2017 WL 445736 at *3
(E.D.Cal. Feb. 2, 2017).
court has reviewed Exhibits B and C, which contain detailed
medical information about Plaintiff. Plaintiff's only
remaining claim in this case is for denial of equal
protection based on allegations that Defendant racially
discriminated against Plaintiff when she refused to apply
Capsaicin pain medication to his skin. Plaintiff has not
placed his medical condition at issue in this case except to
allege that he asked Defendant, a nurse, to apply Capsaicin
cream to his skin to relieve pain. The records in Exhibits B
and C are related to the merits of the case only for their
absence of any evidence in the records that Plaintiff asked
Defendant for Capsaicin medication or asked her to apply it
to his skin.
balance, the potential harm to Plaintiff's interests
outweighs the public's right to access Plaintiff's
medical records. Defendant has made an adequate showing of
compelling reasons to seal these medical records.
Accordingly, the court will grant Defendant's unopposed
motion to seal both Exhibits B and C. As Defendant submitted
these documents to the court for in camera review
per Local Rule 141(b), the ...