United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO SEAL
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court are: (1) Plaintiff Central Freight Lines,
Inc.'s (“Central Freight”) motion to seal
documents related to its motion for summary judgment (MTS 1
(Dkt. # 146)); (2) Defendant Amazon Fulfillment
Services's (“AFS”) motion to seal documents
related to its summary judgment response (MTS 2 (Dkt. #
161)); (3) Central Freight's motion to seal documents
related to its summary judgment reply (MTS 3 (Dkt. # 169));
and (4) AFS's motion to seal portions of its motion for
partial summary judgment (MTS 4 (Dkt. # 177)). The parties
have filed responses to some of the motions. (Resp. 1 (Dkt. #
150); Resp. 3 (Dkt. # 173); Resp. 4 (Dkt. # 181).) The court
has considered the motions, the parties' submissions
concerning the motions, the relevant portions of the record,
and the applicable law. Being fully advised,  the court GRANTS
in part and DENIES in part Central Freight's first motion
to seal and GRANTS the parties' remaining motions to seal
as described herein.
court detailed this case's factual and procedural
background in its prior orders. (See 7/10/17 Order
(Dkt. # 47) at 2-4; 11/07/17 Order (Dkt. # 57) at 2-6;
3/11/19 Order (Dkt. # 135) at 2-4.) Thus, in this order, the
court recounts only the facts and procedural history salient
to the instant motions.
case arises from a contract dispute between Central Freight,
a freight carrier, and AFS. (See generally FAC (Dkt.
# 139).) Central Freight provided shipping services to AFS
pursuant to a Transportation Agreement (“the
Agreement”) executed on July 7, 2011. (Id.
¶¶ 13-14, Ex. A (“Agreement”).) In
mid-2016, AFS audited Central Freight's services and
concluded that it had overpaid Central Freight under the
Agreement. (FAC ¶¶ 17-20; see id., Ex. B
(“Demand Letter”).) Central Freight disputes
AFS's contentions, arguing that its billing was
consistent with the parties' oral modification to the //
Agreement and that AFS improperly attempted to “claw
back” money from Central Freight. (See FAC
April 11, 2019, Central Freight moved for summary judgment
against AFS. (CF MSJ (Dkt. # 145).) On June 10, 2019, AFS
moved for partial summary judgment against Central Freight.
(AFS MSJ (Dkt. # 174).) In connection with these motions for
summary judgment, the parties brought the motions to seal
that are at issue in this order. The court will address the
motions to seal in turn.
deciding a motion to seal, courts “start with a strong
presumption in favor of access to court records.”
Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d
1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Hagestad v.
Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)). This
presumption, however, “is not absolute and can be
overridden given sufficiently compelling reasons for doing
so.” Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135 (citing San
Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Ct. N. Dist. (San
Jose), 187 F.3d 1096, 1102 (9th Cir. 1999)). The
standard for determining whether to seal a record depends on
the filing that the sealed record is attached to. See
Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1136-37. Because the sealed documents
at issue here are attached to motions that are “more
than tangentially related to the merits of [this] case,
” the court applies the compelling reasons standard to
determine if sealing is appropriate. See Ctr. for Auto
Safety v. Chrysler Grp., 809 F.3d 1092, 1098-102 (9th
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.” Kamakana v.
City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d at 1178-79
(internal citations omitted). A failure to meet that burden
means that the record will be filed in public. Id.
at 1182. If a court decides to seal a record, it must
“base its decision on a compelling reason and
articulate the factual basis for its ruling.”
Id. at 1179 (quoting Hagestad, 49 F.3d at
general, ‘compelling reasons' sufficient to
outweigh the public's interest in disclosure and justify
sealing court records exist when such ‘court files
might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,' such
as the use of records to . . . release trade secrets.”
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (quoting Nixon v.
Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)).
The final determination of what constitutes a compelling
reason is “best left to the sound discretion of the
trial court.” Nixon, 435 U.S. at 599.
addition, in the Western District of Washington, parties
seeking to file documents under seal must follow the
procedure laid out in Local Rule 5(g). See Local
Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g). Pursuant to Local Rule 5(g), a
party filing a motion to seal must include “a
certification that the party has met and conferred with all
other parties in an attempt to reach agreement on the need to
file the document[s] under seal.” Id. LCR
5(g)(3)(A). The party seeking to seal the documents must also
explain the bases for requiring the relief. Id. LCR