United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
B.F. and A.A., minors, by and through their guardian Joey Fields, et al., Plaintiffs,
AMAZON.COM, INC., et al., Defendants.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' UNOPPOSED MOTION TO
MICHELLE L. PETERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' unopposed
motion to seal several declarations and exhibits submitted in
support of their pending Motion to Compel Arbitration and
Dismiss Plaintiffs' Claims. (Dkt. # 58.) As discussed
below, Defendants' motion is DENIED, and they must submit
a properly redacted version of the documents at issue.
the Court's Local Rules, “[t]here is a strong
presumption of public access to the court's files.”
Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g); see also Nixon v.
Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978).
To rebut this presumption, a party must file a motion that
includes “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).
Thus, the burden is on the moving party to come forward with
an applicable legal standard justifying the sealing of the
documents at issue and to produce evidentiary support showing
that the standard is met. See id.
must demonstrate “compelling reasons” to seal
judicial records attached to a dispositive motion.
Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d
1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006). A party seeking to seal records
in connection with a nondispositive motion, by contrast, must
show “good cause” under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 26(c). In re Midland Nat'l Life Ins.
Co. Annuity Sales Practices Litig., 686 F.3d 1115, 1119
(9th Cir. 2012); Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n,
605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (“In light of the
weaker public interest in nondispositive materials, we apply
the ‘good cause' standard when parties wish to keep
them under seal.”). The “compelling
reasons” standard applies to this motion, as the
declarations and exhibits at issue were filed in support of
Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration or Dismiss this
action, which if granted would be dispositive of the
the “compelling reasons” standard, the party
seeking to seal judicial records bears the burden of
“articulat[ing] compelling reasons supported by
specific factual findings . . . that outweigh the general
history of access and the public policies favoring
disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the
judicial process.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at
1178-79 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
“In turn, the court must conscientiously balance the
competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to
keep certain judicial records secret.” Id. at
1179. Then, “if the court decides to seal certain
judicial records, it must base its decision on a compelling
reason and articulate the factual basis for its ruling,
without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.”
move the Court for leave to maintain the following
declarations and exhibits under seal:
(1) Declaration of Trent Gillespie in support of
Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and Exhibit A
thereto (Dkt. # 59);
(2) Declaration of Owen Bell in Support of Defendants'
Motion to Compel Arbitration and Exhibit A thereto (Dkt. #
(3) Unredacted Declaration of Tyler Newby in Support of
Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and Exhibits 2,
4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 thereto (Dkt. # 62).
(Dkt. # 58 at 2.)
Defendants ask the Court to maintain Exhibit A to both the
Gillespie and Bell Declarations (Dkts. ## 59, Ex. A and 60,
Ex. A) under seal because they contain the parties'
confidential information and internal data. Specifically,
Exhibit A to the Gillespie Declaration contains charts
summarizing the account information for each Plaintiff's
guardian and their household, the Alexa devices they have
activated, and the Alexa skills enabled. (Dkt. # 59, Ex. A.)
Exhibit A to the Bell Declaration contains a summary of
Plaintiffs' parents and household member's Amazon
account purchase history. (Dkt. # 60, Ex. A.) The Gillespie
and Bell declarations themselves contain Plaintiffs'
guardians' email addresses, the specific names of the
Alexa devices in each Plaintiff's household, the number
of purchases each account holder has made, and the names of
“kid skills” individual Plaintiffs' guardians
have downloaded. (Dkt. ## 59 (Gillespie Decl.) and 60 (Bell
further contend that Plaintiffs previously designated their
guardians' email addresses as “Confidential”
when disclosing them in discovery, and therefore the
documents should remain sealed to protect this personal
information. (Dkt. # 58 at 4 (citing Nursing Home Pension
Fund v. Oracle Corp., 2007 WL 3232267, at *2 (N.D. Cal.
Nov. 1, 2007) (“The Ninth Circuit has found that
compelling reasons exist to keep personal information
confidential to protect an individual's privacy interest
and to prevent exposure to harm or identity theft.”).)
In addition, Defendants assert that the exhibits include
“Amazon's non-public, commercially sensitive
information and internal data as well as data reflecting
Plaintiffs' Parents' usage of Amazon services.”
(Dkt. # 58 at 4.) Defendants assert that if such information
were disclosed to the public, this business information might
harm Defendants' competitive standing. (Id.
(citing Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435
U.S. 589, 598 (1978); In re Electronic Arts, 298
Fed.Appx. 568, 569-70 (9th Cir. 2008)).)
Defendants claim that the Newby Declaration (dkt. # 61) and
Exhibits 2, 4, 6, 8 and 9 thereto include the same customer
email addresses designated as “confidential” and
also reference internal Amazon customer records about certain
Plaintiffs' guardians described in the Gillespie
declaration. The exhibits include Plaintiffs' responses
to interrogatories that provide those email addresses, as
well as excerpts of public record reports about two of
Plaintiffs' guardians. Defendants seek to maintain these
exhibits under seal, although they are public records,
because “they include compilations of residential
history information about two Plaintiffs' parents.”
(Dkt. # 58 at 5.)
Court finds that although Defendants' motion to seal
properly acknowledges the “compelling reasons”
standard, it does not satisfy it. (Dkt. # 58.) Certainly some
of the information contained in the declarations and exhibits
at issue - namely the Plaintiffs' guardians' email
addresses - should be redacted from any publicly filed
document. Given the nature of the claims at issue, the Court
is mindful that the email addresses should be kept
confidential to protect the Plaintiffs' guardians'
privacy interest and prevent exposure to harm or identity
theft. Apart from the email addresses, however, Defendants
have not articulated “compelling reasons” why any
of the other information at issue must be kept under seal. By
bringing this lawsuit against Defendants, ...