United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO SEAL
L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court are: (1) Defendant Amazon Fulfillment
Services's (“AFS”) motion to seal documents
related to its motion for reconsideration of the court's
summary judgment order (1st MTS (Dkt. # 221)), and (2)
AFS's motion to seal documents related to its opposition
to Plaintiff Central Freight Lines, Inc.'s
(“CFL”) motions in limine (2nd MTS (Dkt. # 226)).
Both motions are unopposed. (See generally Dkt.;
see also 1st MTS at 2; 2nd MTS at 2.) 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
court has detailed this case's factual and procedural
background in several prior orders. (See, e.g.,
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 CFL, a freight
carrier, and AFS. (See generally FAC (Dkt. # 139).)
CFL 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
CFL's services and concluded that it had overpaid CFL
under the Agreement. (FAC ¶¶ 17-20; see
id., Ex. B (“Demand Letter”).) CFL 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 CFL. (See Id. ¶¶
August 12, 2019, the parties filed motions in limine.
(See CFL MILs (Dkt. # 216); AFS MILs (Dkt. # 217).)
On August 14, 2019 AFS filed a motion for partial
reconsideration of the court's summary judgment order.
(See MFR (Dkt. ## 222 (redacted), 223 (sealed)); MSJ
Order (Dkt. ## 214 (sealed), 220 (redacted)).) AFS now seeks
to seal certain documents related to those filings.
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.” Id. (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 Id. 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 Cir. 2016).
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 1172, 1178-79 (9th
Cir. 2006) (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