United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MARGARET T. BROOKS, Plaintiff,
SEATTLE HOUSING AUTHORITY, Defendant.
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on non-party
L.B.'s ex parte, sealed motion to redact (Dkt.
No. 65). L.B. requests that the Court order that her name be
redacted from all documents associated with this case.
Margaret Brooks (“Brooks”) brought this lawsuit
in 2012 against Defendant Seattle Housing Authority
(“SHA”) under the federal Fair Housing Act,
alleging that she was discriminated against based on her race
and disability. (Dkt. No. 21 at 1.) L.B. was an employee of
SHA and managed the apartment building where Brooks lived.
(Dkt. No. 47 at 5-6.) As a result of her employment and
interactions with Brooks, L.B. became involved in this
lawsuit against SHA. (See generally Dkt. Nos. 46, 47.)
provided a sworn declaration in support of SHA's motion
for summary judgment that refuted many of Brooks' claims
against SHA. (Compare Dkt. No. 47 at 5-9,
with Dkt. No. 21.) L.B. is referenced by name in
SHA's motion for summary judgment and reply brief. (Dkt.
No. 46 and 51.) On June 15, 2015, the Court conducted a bench
trial and ruled that SHA did not violate the Fair Housing
Act. (Dkt. No. 61 at 4.)
than two years after disposition, L.B. moves the Court to
redact her name from all documents filed in the case. (Dkt.
No. 65.) L.B. asserts that “[w]hile [she] was a party
of interest, there are negative consequences with her name
being associated with this discrimination case that are
disproportionate to her role and note of legitimate concern
to the public.” (Id.) Neither party has
responded to L.B.'s motion.
outset, the Court notes that L.B., as a non-party, is not
necessarily entitled to the relief requested in her motion.
Neither the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure nor Local Civil
Rules provide a non-party such as L.B. with a right to obtain
a protective order. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1)
(“A party or any person from whom discovery is sought
may move for a protective order in the court where the action
is pending . . . .”); Local Civ. R. 26(c)(2)
(“Parties may file a stipulated protective order to
protect confidential, proprietary, or private information
that warrants special protection.) Nor has L.B. filed a
motion to intervene in the case that would allow her to seek
redactions of the judicial record. See, e.g.,
Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d
470, 473 (9th Cir. 1992) (holding that Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 24(b) allows intervention for the limited purpose
of retroactively challenging or modifying a protective
L.B. properly intervened in this case, however, the Court
would not grant her motion to redact. There is a presumption
of public access to judicial records and documents. Nixon
v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978).
In light of this, the Ninth Circuit has held that there must
be “compelling reasons” to seal judicial records
attached to a dispositive motion. Kamakana v. City &
Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006).
“A litigant who might be embarrassed, incriminated, or
exposed to litigation through dissemination of materials is
not, without more, entitled to the court's protection . .
. .” Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co.,
331 F.3d 1122, 1136 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted).
has not demonstrated a compelling reason for redacting her
name from the judicial record. L.B. expresses a general
concern with privacy in support of her motion but does not
articulate specific reasons why her identity should be
confidential. (Dkt. No. 65.) Nor is L.B. trying to redact
confidential personal information such as a social security
number, telephone number, or address. Moreover, the parties
never sought a protective order in this case or made efforts
to protect the identities of those involved. Courts have
required a heightened showing in order to allow litigants to
proceed anonymously. See, e.g., United States v.
Doe, 488 F.3d 1154, 1156 n. 1 (9th Cir.2007) (“the
identity of the parties in any action, civil or criminal,
should not be concealed except in an unusual case, where
there is a need for the cloak of anonymity.”)
Tarutis v. Spectrum Brands, Inc., No. C13-0761-JLR,
slip op. at 4 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 7, 2014) (denying a
defendant's request to retroactively remove his name from
all publicly-available court files.)
L.B. provided a nine-page sworn declaration in support of
SHA's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 47.) Her
declaration was the only testimonial evidence that SHA relied
on for its summary judgment motion. (Dkt. Nos. 47, 58, 60.)
Accordingly, there is a strong public policy interest that
her identity, as it relates to these court filings, remain
available to the public. L.B. has not provided a compelling
reason that would lead the Court to rule otherwise.
foregoing reasons, non-party L.B.'s ex parte motion to
redact (Dkt. No. 65) is DENIED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to
unseal Docket Number 65. The Clerk is further DIRECTED to
mail a copy of this order to L.B. at the address provided in
 As a courtesy, the Court refers to the
moving party by her initials “L.B.” in this order
because she has expressed a desire to ...