United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO SEAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
22, 2018, the Court requested supplemental briefing to
summarize all previous arguments to seal documents for the
pending Motions for Summary Judgment, Dkts. #154 and #162.
See Dkt. #232. This matter comes before the Court on
the subsequent Motion to Seal filed by Defendants. Dkt. #235.
is a strong presumption of public access to the court's
files.” LCR 5(g). “Only in rare circumstances
should a party file a motion, opposition, or reply under
seal.” LCR 5(g)(5). Normally the moving party must
include “a specific statement of the applicable legal
standard and the reasons for keeping a document under seal,
with evidentiary support from declarations where
necessary.” LCR 5(g)(3)(B). However:
Where parties have entered a litigation agreement or
stipulated protective order (see LCR 26(c)(2)) governing the
exchange in discovery of documents that a party deems
confidential, a party wishing to file a confidential document
it obtained from another party in discovery may file a motion
to seal but need not satisfy subpart (3)(B) above. Instead,
the party who designated the document confidential must
satisfy subpart (3)(B) in its response to the motion to seal
or in a stipulated motion.
5(g)(3). A “good cause” showing under Rule 26(c)
will suffice to keep sealed records attached to
non-dispositive motions. Kamakana v. City & County of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1180 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal
citations omitted). For dispositive motions, the presumption
may be overcome by demonstrating “compelling
reasons.” Id.; Foltz v. State Farm Mutual
Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1135-36 (9th Cir.2003).
Applying the “compelling reasons” standard, the
Ninth Circuit has found appropriate the sealing of documents
attached to a motion for summary judgment when court records
could be used “as sources of business information that
might harm a litigant's competitive standing.”
Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d
1092, 1097 (9th Cir. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S.Ct.
initial matter, the parties appear to agree that certain
documents and portions of documents should be sealed to
protect personally identifiable information, medical
information, and attorney-client privileged information. The
Court agrees there are compelling reasons to seal these
documents and will keep them under seal: Dkt. #163: Exs. 34,
37, and 43; Dkt. #179: Ex. 56 and Ex. 7 at 138:12-140:18;
Dkt. #189: Ex. 3; Dkt. #205: Ex. 3 and Ex. 1 at 371:2- 372:9.
Plaintiff must submit new redacted versions of Dkt. #179 Ex.
7 and Dkt. #205 Ex. 1 with only these redactions.
remaining documents Defendants wish to seal fall into the
following categories. See Dkt. #235, 5-6 (chart of
request to seal employee performance self-evaluations for
three PIMCO executives, Brent Harris (Chairman of the PIMCO
Funds), Douglas Hodge (former CEO), and Peter Strelow
(Co-Chief Operating Officer). These self-evaluations are
anywhere from three to eight years old. Defendants argue that
they “reveal PIMCO's highly confidential business
strategies and information about PIMCO's operations and
internal governance, ” and considers such trade
secrets. Dkt. #235 at 9. Defendants contend that public
revelation of these self-evaluations could lead to poaching
of clients or employees by PIMCO's competitors.
Court finds Defendants have failed to demonstrate that these
documents reveal information rising to the standard of trade
secrets or otherwise protected business information. These
evaluations tell of business accomplishments in broad
strokes. Much of the information was retrospective when it
was drafted years ago, is likely stale, and is unlikely to
harm PIMCO. PIMCO's argument that self evaluations could
lead to the poaching of employees is speculative and
unsupported. Plaintiff is to file unsealed versions of all of
these exhibits (Dkt. #163: Exs. 20-22; Dkt. #179: Exs.
Individual Compensation Data
category of exhibits includes information about compensation
paid to PIMCO managing directors and portfolio managers as
recently as 2016. Defendants argue that the exhibits showing
this category of information could lead to harm for PIMCO.
Dkt. #235 at 10 (citing Beaulieu Grp., LLC v. Bates,
No. EDCV 15-1090, 2016 WL 7626471 JGB, at *3-4 (C.D. Cal.
Oct. 18, 2016)). Defendants specifically contend that
“disclosure of individual compensation amounts could
destabilize a firm's internal business dynamics, ”
and “would be a boon to competitors who could use such
information to recruit PIMCO personnel or otherwise compete
with PIMCO for talent.” Id. The Court
generally agrees with these arguments, finds that PIMCO would
likely suffer at least some harm internally and externally
from the publication of these exhibits, and finds that PIMCO
has set forth compelling reasons to keep them sealed. Dkt.
#163: Ex. 23 and Dkt. #179: Ex. 33 are to REMAIN SEALED.
Business Strategy Discussions Among Senior
32 from Dkt. #179 is a document entitled “Murder on the
PIMCO Express, ” authored by William H. Gross.
According to Defendants it discusses compensation information
and PIMCO's confidential internal governance matters and
business strategies. The Court has reviewed this document and
finds that it discusses these topics only in the most general
terms unlikely to reveal trade secret or ...