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Wetzel v. Certainteed Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 2, 2019

PAULA WETZEL, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CERTAINTEED CORPORATION, Defendant.

          SECOND ORDER ON MOTIONS TO SEAL

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 18, 2019, the court entered an order on four motions to seal certain materials on the court's docket. (See 3/18/19 Order (Dkt. # 167); see also 1st MTS (Dkt. # 105); 2d MTS (Dkt. # 120); 3d MTS (Diet. # 137); 4th MTS (Dkt. # 152).) The court granted each motion in part and reserved ruling in part pending Defendant CertainTeed Corporation's ("CertainTeed") response to the court's order. (3/18/19 Order at 28-29.) CertainTeed filed its response on March 29, 2019. (Resp. (Dkt. # 170).) The court has considered CertainTeed's response, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully advised, the court issues its final rulings on the parties' motions to seal as more fully described below.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Between August and October 2018, the parties filed four motions to seal relating to documents and testimony that CertainTeed deems confidential. (See 1st MTS; 2d MTS; 3d MTS; 4th MTS.) Plaintiffs Paula and Joel Wetzel (collectively, "the Wetzels") filed three motions to seal pursuant to the parties' stipulated protection order (1st MTS; 2d MTS; 4th MTS; see Protective Order (Dkt #31)), and CertainTeed also filed one motion to seal (3d MTS).

         On March 18, 2019, the court granted in part and reserved ruling in part on each of the four motions to seal. (3/18/19 Order at 28-29.) The court reserved ruling on some of the exhibits at issue and certain redacted lines of the Wetzels' motion for class certification (MCC (Dkt. ## 107 (sealed), 108 (redacted))), summary judgment response (MSJ Resp. (Dkt. ## 122 (sealed), 123 (redacted))), and class certification reply (MCC Reply (Dkt. ## 154 (sealed), 157 (redacted))). (See 3/18/19 Order at 24-28.) In conjunction with the reserved rulings, the court granted CertainTeed 14 days to respond to the order and address the court's concerns regarding over-designation, conclusory "compelling reasons" to seal, publicly filed documents, and timely confidentiality designations. (Id. at 23.) On March 29, 2019, CertainTeed filed its response to the court's order. (See Resp.) The court now issues its final rulings on the provisionally sealed materials.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Legal Standard

         The court applies a compelling reasons standard to determine whether to seal the documents at issue. See Kamakana v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178-79 (9th Cir. 2006). Under the compelling reasons standard, the party seeking to seal a judicial record bears the burden of showing that "compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings... outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure." Id. (internal citations omitted). Generally, "compelling reasons sufficient to outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, such as the use of records to ... release trade secrets." Id. at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc 'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The final determination of what constitutes a compelling reason is left to the court's discretion. See Nixon, 435 U.S. at 599.

         B. Documents to Unseal

         1. CertainTeed Concedes that Several Documents Should Be Unsealed

         The Wetzels have consistently sought to unseal all of the documents at issue, (See, e.g., 1 st MTS Reply (Dkt. # 117) at 4.) In its response to the court's March 18, 2019, order, CertainTeed either concedes to or does not object to lifting the provisional seal on several of the documents or portions of documents at issue in the original motions to seal. (See generally Resp.) Thus, the court ORDERS the following documents or portions of documents unsealed:

Document or Portion of a Document Presently under Seal

CertainTeed's Concession to Unsealing

The Court's Ruling

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl. (Dkt. ## 107-1 (sealed), 109-2 (redacted)), Ex. 2 ("Stahl Dep.") at 21)[1]

(Resp. at 3)

Unseal

(Stahl Dep. at 80)

(Resp. at 8)

Unseal

(Stahl Dep. at 99-100)

(Resp. at 8)

Unseal

(Stahl Dep. at 135)

(Resp. at.8-9)

Unseal

(Stahl Dep. at 156-58)

(Resp. at 9)

Unseal

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl., Ex. 7 at 4-5, 7-10)[2]

(Resp. at 10-11)

Unseal[3]

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl., Ex. 18)

(Resp. at 12)

Unseal

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl, Ex. 31)

(Resp. at 12)

Unseal[4]

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl., Ex. 41)

(Resp. at 13)

Unseal

(8/13/18 Terrell Decl, Ex. 42)

(Resp. at 13)

Unseal[5]

(MSJ Resp. (Dkt. ## 122 (sealed), 123 (redacted)) at 9-10[6] (quoting and discussing Exs. 6 and 8 of the 8/13/18 Terrell Decl.))

(Resp. at 14-15)

Unseal

(MCC Reply (Dkt. ## 154 (sealed), 157

(redacted)) at 24[7] (discussing Ex. 55 (Dkt.

# 156) ("Ex. 55 Stahl Dep.") at 20-21, 156-60))

(Resp. at 16-17)

Unseal

(Ex. 55 Stahl Dep. at 20-21)

(Resp. at 17)

Unseal

(Ex. 55 Stahl Dep. at 80-81)

(Resp. at 17)

Unseal

(Ex. 55 Stahl Dep. at 15 6-60)

(Resp. at 17)

Unseal


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