United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AND SECOND
MOTIONS TO SEAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Abdikarim
Karrani's two Motions to Seal, filed on March 29, 2019
and May 24, 2019, respectively. Dkts. ## 18, 45. Both Motions
relate to documents designated as “confidential”
by Defendant JetBlue Airways Corp. (“JetBlue”)
under the parties' Protective Order, and therefore filed
under seal by Plaintiff pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5(g). A
full summary of the case is not necessary given this
Court's earlier orders on parties' discovery
disputes. See Dkts. #49, 50.
foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's first and
second Motions to Seal.
is a strong presumption of public access to the court's
files.” Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g). However, for
sealed discovery documents attached to non-dispositive
motions, the Ninth Circuit has found that this strong
presumption is rebutted given that such documents are often
“unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the
underlying cause of action.” Kamakana v.
City & County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th
Cir. 2006) (quoting Phillips v. General Motors
Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002)) (internal
quotations omitted). Accordingly, a “good cause”
showing under Rule 26(c) may suffice to keep under seal
documents attached to non-dispositive motions. Id.
Rule 26, which gives district courts flexibility in balancing
and protecting the interests of private parties, states that
“good cause” is shown where forbidding disclosure
or discovery would “protect a party or person from
annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or
expense ….” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).
Court's Local Rules explicitly instruct parties to
present legal and evidentiary support in a motion to seal.
Normally that motion 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.” Local Rules W.D. Wash.
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.
LCR 5(g)(3). In this case, the protective order stipulated
and agreed to by the parties on February 15, 2019 explicitly
states that “Local Civil Rule 5(g) sets forth the
procedures that must be followed and the standards that will
be applied when a party seeks permission from the court to
file material under seal.” Dkt. #15 at 4.
Plaintiff's First Motion to Seal
First Motion to Seal (Dkt. #18), concerns deposition
testimony and a passenger complaint email designated by
JetBlue as “confidential” under the Protective
Order (Dkt. #15). Plaintiff relied on this material to
support Plaintiff's First Motion to Compel. See
Dkt. #21, Exs. 1A, 2A, 7. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5(g),
JetBlue's confidential designations required Plaintiff to
file these documents under seal. Plaintiff contends that the
records JetBlue designated as “confidential”
should not be sealed, and that Plaintiff should be allowed to
file the unredacted motion to compel, with the attached
exhibits, without sealing.
response to Plaintiff's motion, JetBlue de-designated
portions of the deposition transcripts, Dkt. #21, Exs. 1A,
2A, and confirmed that the transcripts may be re-filed not
under seal, but with redactions of “uncontested
confidential information” such as crew members'
addresses. Dkt. #26 at 1. Plaintiff argues that the
deposition excerpts provide no remaining confidential
material and should be produced in full without redactions.
Dkt. #27 at 2. Neither party argues that the deposition
transcripts should remain sealed. Upon review of the
transcripts, the Court finds no mention of crew member
addresses or any other “uncontested confidential
information” subject to the Protective Order.
respect to the passenger complaint filed under seal, Dkt.
#21, Ex. 7, JetBlue's Response only refers to the
deposition transcripts-it makes no mention of the passenger
complaint. If JetBlue wanted the passenger complaint to
remain under seal, it needed to show good cause for keeping
the document sealed. See Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR
5(g)(3) (party designating document confidential must set
forth applicable legal standard and explain why less
restrictive alternative is not sufficient). JetBlue has
failed to provide any justification for keeping the passenger
Court has reviewed the documents at issue and found that the
deposition transcripts contain no sensitive information
requiring further redaction. However, the passenger complaint
contains the names of the complaining passengers-which were
redacted elsewhere in the document-and therefore requires
further redaction pursuant to parties' Protective Order
before re-filing. See Dkt. #21, Ex. 7 at 3.
Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Seal
(Dkt. #18), and ORDERS Plaintiff to re-file the declaration
exhibits attached to the Declaration of John P. ...