United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' CHALLENGE TO
DEFENDANTS' DESIGNATION AS TO CONFIDENTIALITY AND REQUEST
OF ORDER DIRECTING STAY OF PROCEEDINGS AND DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO SEAL.
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Megan Stone and
Christine Carosi's (“Plaintiffs”) challenge
to Defendants' designation as to confidentiality and
request of order directing stay of proceeding (Dkt. 74) and
Defendant GEICO General Insurance Company's
(“GEICO”) motion to seal (Dkt. 78). The Court has
considered the pleadings filed in support of and in
opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and
hereby denies the motions for the reasons stated herein.
17, 2015, Plaintiff Megan Stone (“Stone”) filed a
class action complaint against multiple defendants
(“Defendants”) in Pierce County Superior Court.
October 1, 2015, Stone and Defendants submitted a proposed
stipulated protective order that was signed by the Piece
County judge. Dkt. 3-29 (“Protective Order”). In
relevant part, the order provides that “the Receiving
Party may challenge the designation [of a document] by making
the appropriate motion before this Court.” Id.
¶ 3.2.1. The order also contained an example agreement
to be bound by the order wherein anyone signing the agreement
“submits to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of
the State of Washington in the County of Pierce in matters
relating to this Stipulated Protective Order . . . .”
Id. at 11.
10, 2016, Stone filed an amended complaint, which added
Plaintiff Christine Carosi as a named plaintiff. Dkt. 1-2. On
May 20, 2016, Defendants removed the matter to this Court.
14, 2016, Plaintiffs moved to remand. Dkt. 16. On July 5,
2016, Defendants responded. Dkt. 23. In support of the
response, Defendants filed an unredacted Declaration of David
Antonacci (“Antonacci Dec.”) under seal and a
redacted version without viewing restrictions. Dkts. 24, 29.
On July 28, 2016, the Court ordered the parties to show cause
why the sealed documents should not be unsealed because
Defendants failed to file a motion to seal. Dkt. 34. On
August 5, 2016, Defendants responded requesting that the
documents remain under seal due to the “confidential
and proprietary nature of certain information
contained” in the documents. Dkt. 36. Plaintiffs did
not respond. On October 3, 2016, the Court signed
Defendants' proposed order maintaining the Antonacci Dec.
under seal. Dkt. 49.
March 17, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a challenge to
Defendants' designation as to confidentiality and request
of order directing stay of proceedings. Dkt. 74. Plaintiffs
assert that their attorney presented the Antonacci Dec. in a
deposition in another matter. Id. at 5-6. Plaintiffs
also assert that Defendants have filed suit in Philadelphia,
where the deposition occurred, claiming that Plaintiffs'
counsel violated the terms of the Protective Order.
Id. at 6. On April 10, 2017, GEICO responded, filed
documents under seal, and filed a motion to seal. Dkts.
78-80. On April 14, 2017, Plaintiffs replied. Dkt. 84. On
April 17, 2017, Plaintiffs responded and opposed the motion
to seal. Dkt. 85. On April 21, 2017, GEICO replied. Dkt. 86.
there are numerous problems with Plaintiffs' motion, the
main problem is that the parties should request the court
that issued the order to interpret the order with respect to
a party's designation. Plaintiffs' motion has nothing
to do with this Court finding good cause to seal the document
from public disclosure and, instead, challenges GEICO's
initial designation of the document pursuant to the
Protective Order. The Pierce County court agreed to retain
jurisdiction over matters relating to the Protective Order.
Therefore, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion for
failure to abide by the agreement they entered into.
courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and
copy public records and documents, including judicial records
and documents.'” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at
1178 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc.,
435 U.S. 589, 597 & n. 7 (1978). “[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 Mutual Auto. Insurance Company, 331 F.3d
1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)).
case, the Court need not consider the issue past the starting
point because GEICO has failed to show that these documents
contain any proprietary information. Instead, the documents
contain only generic, common sense employee policies that
every company most likely either explicitly or implicitly
enforces. Therefore, the Court denies GEICO's motion to