United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO SEAL
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Haikel
Gsouri's (“Plaintiff”) motion to seal
exhibits in response to summary judgment, Dkt. 45, and the
Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of the
Honorable J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate
Judge, Dkt. 51.
brings an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that
several of his constitutional rights were violated during his
incarceration at the Clark County Jail (“CCJ”).
Dkt. 8 at 3-19. On March 4, 2019, Judge Creatura issued a
stipulated protective order designating the CCJ records of
Plaintiff and other inmates as confidential. Dkt. 28.
3, 2019, Defendants moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 36. On
July 8, 2019, Plaintiff responded, Dkt. 43, filed supporting
exhibits under seal, Dkt. 46, and moved to seal the exhibits,
Dkt. 45. Defendants failed to respond to Plaintiff's
motion to seal.
August 8, 2019, Judge Creatura issued the R&R
recommending that this Court grant summary judgment and
dismiss Plaintiff's claims with prejudice. Dkt. 51.
Plaintiff did not object to the R&R.
local rule, the Court may seal documents or materials that
are submitted by the parties. However, there is a strong
presumption of public access to the Court's files. Local
Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g). Accordingly, any motion to seal
must include (1) a certification that the parties have
conferred on the need to file the document under seal and (2)
“a specific statement of the applicable legal standard
and the reasons for keeping a document under seal.”
Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g)(3). This specific statement
requires an explanation of “(i) the legitimate private
or public interests that warrant the relief sought; (ii) the
injury that will result if the relief sought is not granted;
and (iii) why a less restrictive alternative to the relief
sought is not sufficient.” LCR 5(g)(3)(B). When the
parties have entered a stipulated protective order “a
party wishing to file a confidential document it obtained
from another party in discovery may file a motion to
seal” but it is the responsibility of the party who
designated the document confidential to provide the
information sought under LCR 5(g)(3)(B). The designating
party may provide this information “in its response to
the motion to seal or in a stipulated motion.” LCR
case, Plaintiff filed, inter alia, CCJ records
designated as confidential. See Dkt. 46 (sealed
exhibit containing 90 pages of discovery responses, grievance
records, and certain CCJ reports regarding Plaintiff and
other inmates labeled with computer-generated
“confidential” labels). Plaintiff's motion
indicates that he filed the exhibit under seal “per the
protective order filed by [D]efendants for discovery . . .
.” Dkt. 45 at 1. Plaintiff's motion does not state
whether the parties met and conferred regarding the need to
seal the exhibit. It is undisputed that Defendants failed to
respond to Plaintiff's motion and failed to provide
sufficient reasons to retain the exhibits under seal as
required by LCR 5(g)(3). This is reason alone for the Court
to deny the motion.
the Court would provide Defendants an opportunity to withdraw
the exhibits in lieu of retaining them under seal; however,
the R&R granting summary judgment relied in part on these
exhibits. See Dkt. 51 at 10. Therefore, the Court
will not remove them from the docket.
Court notes that the protective order does not designate
information that is otherwise within the public domain as
confidential. Dkt. 28. Some of the jail records submitted by
Plaintiff may not be publicly available. However, most of the
jail records in Plaintiff's exhibit had already been
electronically redacted, presumably by Defendants, at the
time Plaintiff filed them. See, e.g., Dkt. 46. To
the extent the records contain the names and personalized
identification numbers of other inmates, the Court notes that
this information appears to be publicly available
online. Consequently, without a basis to seal
provided by Defendants, without clarity regarding the need to
seal the exhibits, and with the less restrictive alternative
of redaction seemingly utilized, the Court does not find that
compelling reasons exist to maintain the exhibits under seal.
See Hendrix v. Branton, No. C93-537-TSZ-RSM, 2012 WL
2455741, at *3 (W.D. Wash. June 26, 2012) (“To obtain a
court order sealing documents attached to a summary judgment
or other dispositive motion, the parties must meet a
“compelling reasons” standard rather than the
lesser “good cause” standard.”).
the Court having considered the R&R, the motion to seal,
and the remaining record, and no objections having been
filed, does hereby find and order as follows:
(1) The R&R is ADOPTED;
(2) Plaintiff's motion to seal, Dkt. 45, is
(3) Defendants' summary judgment motion, Dkt. 36, is
(4) Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED with