United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER ON ADMINISTRATIVE MOTIONS TO SEAL Re: Dkt. Nos.
197, 203, 208
Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. United States District Judge.
parties filed administrative motions to file documents under
seal in connection with their motions in limine.
Dkt. Nos. 197, 203, 208. The Court GRANTS IN
PART and DENIES IN PART the motions
to file under seal, as described below.
generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard
when considering motions to seal documents. Pintos v.
Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir.
2010) (quoting Kamakana v. City & Cty. of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)).
“This standard derives from the common law right
‘to inspect and copy public records and documents,
including judicial records and documents.'”
Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178).
“[A] strong presumption in favor of access is the
starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178
(quotations omitted). To overcome this strong presumption,
the party seeking to seal a judicial record attached to a
dispositive motion must “articulate compelling reasons
supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the
general history of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the
judicial process” and “significant public
events.” Id. at 1178-79 (quotations omitted).
“In general, ‘compelling reasons' sufficient
to outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and
justify sealing court records 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
v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)).
“The 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 nondispositive motions must meet the lower
“good cause” standard of Rule 26(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are
often unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the
underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1179-80
(quotations omitted). This requires a “particularized
showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will
result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips
ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d
1206, 1210-11 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ.
P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated
by specific examples of articulated reasoning” will not
suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co.,
966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted).
the parties move to file documents related to their motions
in limine, the Court will apply the lower good cause
Plaintiff's Motion to File Under Seal Portions of
Plaintiff's Motions in Limine Nos. 1 and 2 and
Exhibits 1 and 2 (Dkt. No. 197)
seeks to file under seal Exhibits 1 and 2 to the Declaration
of Patricia N. Syverson in Support of Plaintiff's Motions
in Limine Nos. 1 and 2, and portions of his first
and second motions in limine which reference the
proposed sealing material. Dkt. No. 197. Exhibits 1 and 2
contain Prevagen California sales information and have been
designated by Defendant as “Confidential.” Dkt.
No. 197-1 ¶¶ 4-5. Defendant submitted its
supporting Rule 79-5 declaration, establishing that the sales
information contains sensitive and confidential information
“not known to the public or competitors of Defendant
regarding its approximate amounts of sales to third-party
retailers.” Dkt. No. 207 ¶ 8. According to
Defendant, revealing this information would injure its
interests and standing in the marketplace. Id.
Court finds that there is good cause to seal confidential
sales information, because if the information is published,
this may harm Defendant's competitive standing. See,
e.g., FTC v. Qualcomm Inc., No. 17-CV-220-LHK,
2019 WL 95922, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 3, 2019) (granting
motion to seal as information may “divulge terms of
confidential contracts, contract negotiations, or trade
secrets”); Finisar Corp. v. Nistica, Inc., No.
13-cv-03345-BLF (JSC), 2015 WL 3988132, at *5 (N.D. Cal. June
30, 2015). With respect to the first and second motions
in limine and Exhibit 1, these documents appear to
have been narrowly tailored to seal only sealable material
(the sales information), as required by Civil Local Rule
79-5. However, the Court does not find that Exhibit 2 has
been narrowly tailored to only seal the sales information.
Exhibit 2 contains one chart with sales information, but the
remaining pages reflect communications between the parties
which do not expressly disclose the sealable information.
See Dkt. No. 197-8.
Court therefore GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN
PART Plaintiff's motion to seal Exhibits 1 and 2
and portions of Plaintiff's first and second motions
Defendant's Motion to File Under Seal Exhibit 1 (Dkt. No.
moves to file under seal Exhibit 1 to the Declaration of
Joshua G. Simon in Support of Defendant's Motion in
Limine No. 3. Dkt. No. 203. The only proffered
justification for sealing is that the information was
designated as “Highly Confidential” by Plaintiff.
Dkt. No. 203-1 ¶ 3. But a designation of confidentiality
is not sufficient to establish that a document is sealable.
See Civ. L. R. 79-5(d)(1)(A).
“Confidential” is merely the parties' initial
designation of confidentiality to establish coverage under
the stipulated protective order. See Verinata Health,
Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., No. 12-cv-05501-SI,
2015 WL 5117083, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2015) (“But
good cause ‘cannot be established simply by showing
that the document is subject to a protective order or by
stating in general terms that the material is considered to
be confidential'”) (quoting Bain v. AstraZeneca
LP, No. 09-cv-4147, 2011 WL 482767, at *1 (N.D. Cal.
Feb. 7, 2011)). Thus, Defendant's motion does not comply
with Civil Local Rule 79-5(d)(1)(A). In addition, as the
designating party for the materials, Plaintiff did not comply
with Civil Local Rule 79-5(e)(1), because he did not file a
declaration within four days of Defendant's motion.
See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).
the Court DENIES Defendant's motion ...