United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER RE: MOTIONS TO SEAL
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Maria del Carmen
Martinez-Patterson's Motion to Seal, filed on July 18,
2019, and Defendant AT&T Services Inc. (AT&T)'s
Motion to Seal, filed on July 29, 2019. Dkts. ##20, 27. Both
Motions relate to documents designated as
“confidential” by AT&T under the parties'
Protective Order and therefore filed under seal pursuant to
Local Civil Rule 5(g). A full summary of the case is not
foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to
Seal (Dkt. #20) and GRANTS AT&T's Motion 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.
5(g)(3). In this case, the protective order stipulated and
agreed to by the parties on February 28, 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. #19 at 4.
Plaintiff's Motion to Seal
Motion to Seal (Dkt. #20) concerns an organizational chart,
employee performance rankings, and an internal message
exchange between AT&T employees designated by AT&T as
“confidential” under the Protective Order.
Plaintiff relied on this material in support of her Motion to
Compel. Dkt. #20 at 2. Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5(g),
AT&T's confidential designations required Plaintiff
to file these documents under seal. Plaintiff contends that
the records AT&T designated as “confidential”
should not be sealed but claims that AT&T never responded
to Plaintiff's request to remove the confidential
party designating the document confidential, AT&T was
required to set forth the applicable legal standard pursuant
to LCR 5(g)(3)(B) and explain why a less restrictive
alternative was not sufficient. See Local Rules W.D.
Wash. LCR 5(g)(3). However, AT&T has not filed a response
to Plaintiff's Motion. Given the redactions on the
organizational chart and the option to redact any identifying
information in the performance reviews, the Court finds that
re-filing the documents with redactions would sufficiently
protect any confidential material.
the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Seal (Dkt. #20)
and ORDERS Plaintiff to re-file the exhibits (Dkt. #23) with
redactions of identifying information in the performance
reviews, Ex. M, and any identifying information or otherwise
sensitive material in the internal message exchange, Ex. R.