United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO FILE UNREDACTED COMPLANT
UNDER SEAL RE: DKT. NO. 5
S. HIXSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action involves a dispute between Plaintiff Great Lakes
Insurance SE (“Great Lakes”) and Defendant FTL
Risk Innovations LLC (“FTL”) over payment of
premiums pursuant to an underlying insurance policy Great
Lakes issued to Equidate Holdings, LLC (the
“Insured”). Compl., ¶¶ 8, 12-17, ECF
No. 1. On June 14, 2019, Great Lakes filed the present
complaint against FTL with an administrative motion to file
the an unredacted version of the complaint under seal. Mot.,
ECF No. 5. Having considered the motion and relevant legal
authority, the Court GRANTS Great
courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and
copy public records and documents, including judicial records
and documents.'” Kamakana v. City & Cty. 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)). Accordingly, when considering a
sealing request, “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)). Parties seeking to seal
judicial records relating to motions that are “more
than tangentially related to the underlying cause of
action” bear the burden of overcoming the presumption
with “compelling reasons” that outweigh the
general history of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure. Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp.,
809 F.3d 1092, 1099 (9th Cir. 2016); Kamakana, 447
F.3d at 1178-79.
“while protecting the public's interest in access
to the courts, we must remain mindful of the parties'
right to access those same courts upon terms which will not
unduly harm their competitive interest.” Apple Inc.
v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., 727 F.3d 1214,
1228-29 (Fed. Cir. 2013).
moving to seal documents must also comply with the procedures
established by Civil Local Rule 79-5. Pursuant to 79-5(b), a
sealing order is appropriate only upon a request that
establishes the document is “sealable, ” or
“privileged or protectable as a trade secret or
otherwise entitled to protection under the law.”
“The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing
only of sealable material . . . .” Civ. L.R. 79-5(b).
Lakes moves to seal parts of its complaint referring to
specific terms of the policy because it contends that
disclosure of the information could cause competitive harm.
Mot. at 3. Great Lakes designated the information sought to
be redacted as confidential and filed a declaration from
Jamie Cheng, its counsel, in support of sealing the material.
Cheng Decl., ECF No. 5-1. Because the sealing motion relates
to the filing of a complaint, which is more than tangentially
related to the merits of the case, the instant motion is
resolved under the compelling reasons standard. In re
Google Inc. Gmail Litig., 2013 WL 5366963, at *2 (N.D.
Cal. Sept. 25, 2013) (“The Ninth Circuit has not
explicitly stated the standard-good cause or compelling
reasons-that applies to the sealing of a complaint, but this
Court and other courts have held that the compelling reasons
standard applies because a complaint is the foundation of a
lawsuit.” (collecting cases)).
the Court finds that Great Lakes has stated compelling
reasons for sealing portions of the complaint and has
narrowly tailored its request. As to compelling reasons,
“[t]he specific terms [of the policy], including
premium, transaction volume, limitations and other economics
and conditions of the insurance solution” that Great
Lakes seeks to seal are proprietary information. Cheng Decl.
¶ 3; see also In re Elec. Arts, Inc., 298
Fed.Appx. 568, 569 (9th Cir. 2008) (holding that
“pricing terms, royalty rates, and guaranteed minimum
payment terms” are trade secrets that is appropriate
for sealing). Further, Great Lakes and the Insured have an
“exclusive and long-term partnership.” Cheng
Decl., Ex. B, ECF No. 5-3. Publicly disseminating the terms
of the policy would allow other insurers to develop similar
insurance policies and threaten the exclusivity of Great
Lakes's relationship with the Insured. See, e.g.,
Century Aluminum Co. v. AGCS Marine Ins. Co., 2012 WL
13042825, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2012) (granting motion to
seal document containing “confidential information
regarding the claim file of an assured . . . not involved in
this litigation” and holding that “competitive
harm may result to [the assured] if this document is
publicly-disseminated, as it will reveal confidential
business information and strategies that Defendant employs
with respect to issuance of its insurance policies”).
whether the request is narrowly tailored, Great Lakes
redacted only the information as to the terms of the policy
and the premiums that are confidential, as required by Local
Rule 79-5. It has also excluded any confidential documents
and information that are not necessary to its claims, such as
a copy of the policy itself.
reasons stated above, the Court finds that Great Lakes has
articulated compelling reasons to seal certain portions of
the complaint and the proposed redactions are narrowly
tailored to remove only the confidential information.
Therefore, the Court GRANTS Great
Lakes's Administrative Motion to Seal the unredacted
version of the complaint.