United States District Court, E.D. California
RAYMOND D. CHESTER, Plaintiff,
AUDREY KING, et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS KING, SANDHU AND
WITHROW'S REQUEST TO SEAL EXHIBITS (ECF NO.
S. AUSTIN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
D. Chester (“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 First
Amended Complaint filed on August 31, 2016, against
defendants Audrey King (Executive Director), Jagsir Sandhu,
M.D. (Chief Medical Officer), Bradley Powers, M.D. (Unit
Physician), and Robert Withrow, M.D. (Medical Director of
CSH) for failing to provide adequate medical care to
Plaintiff in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (ECF No.
21, 2019, all of the defendants filed a Stipulation and
[proposed] Protective Order regarding disclosure of
confidential health information and personal information.
(ECF No. 30.) On July 2, 2019, the court approved the
stipulated Protective Order (ECF No. 32.)
August 19, 2019, defendants King, Sandhu, and Withrow
(“Defendants”) filed a motion for summary
judgment, together with a Notice of Request to Seal Exhibits
in support of their motion for summary
judgment. (ECF No. 37-11.) On October 15, 2019,
Defendants submitted a proposed Order Granting
Defendants' Request to Seal Exhibits. Plaintiff has not
filed an opposition to the Request to Seal.
King, Sandhu, and Withrow's Request to Seal Exhibits is
now before the court. Local Rule 230(l).
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). Pursuant 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. at 602). 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.
are two standards for a party to consider when it seeks to
file a document under seal: the compelling reasons standard
and the good cause standard. See Center for Auto Safety
v. Chrysler Group. LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1096-97 (9th Cir.
2016). Under the compelling reasons standard, “a court
may seal records only when it finds ‘a compelling
reason and articulate[s] the factual basis for its ruling,
without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.”
Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179).
“The court must then ‘conscientiously balance[ ]
the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks
to keep certain judicial records secret.” Id.
The Ninth Circuit has clarified that the key in determining
which standard to apply in assessing a motion for leave to
file a document under seal is whether the documents proposed
for sealing accompany a motion that is “more than
tangentially related to the merits of a case.”
Center for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101. If that is
the case, the compelling reasons standard is applied. If not,
the good cause standard is applied.
for Auto Safety described the good cause standard, on
the other hand, as the exception to public access that had
been applied to “sealed materials attached to a
discovery motion unrelated to the merits of a case.”
Id. (citing Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v.
Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213-14 (9th Cir.
2002)). “The ‘good cause' language comes from
Rule 26(c)(1), which governs the issuance of protective
orders in the discovery process: ‘The court may, for
good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense.'” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c)). 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.
DEFENDANTS' REQUEST TO SEAL EXHIBITS
seek to seal the unredacted version of Exhibit
“B” to Robert Withrow's declaration in
support of Defendants' motion for summary judgment
because it is “Confidential” under the terms of
the Stipulated Protective Order entered by the court on July
2, 2019. Defendants also assert that Exhibit “B”
contains protected health information as defined by the
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(“HIPAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1320d, et seq. and
Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution.
Defendants seek to file exhibits under seal in connection
with their motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 37), which is
unquestionably “more than tangentially related to the
merits of a ...