United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
D.T., by and through his parents and guardians, K.T. and W.T., individually, on behalf of similarly situated individuals, and on behalf of the NECA/IBEW Family Medical Care Plan, Plaintiff,
NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, SALVATORE J. CHILIA, ROBERT P. KLEIN, DARRELL L. MCCUBBINS, GEARY HIGGINS, LAWRENCE J. MOTER, JR., KEVIN TIGHE, JERRY SIMS, AND ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF NECA/IBEW FAMILY MEDICAL CARE PLAN, Defendants.
ORDER STRIKING THE PARTIES' MOTIONS TO
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Honorable Richard A. Jones This matter comes before the Court
on Plaintiff's Motions to Seal/Redact Pursuant to Local
Civil Rule 5(g) (Dkt. Nos. 65, 76, 83, 96, and 108) and
Defendants' Motions to Seal (Dkt. Nos. 60, 70, and 92).
For the reasons stated below, the Court
STRIKES the parties' motions.
Court previously set forth the factual background of this
case and will not repeat it here. “Historically, courts
have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy
public records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.'” Kamakana v. City &
Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)
(quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435
U.S. 589, 597 & n.7 (1978)). Accordingly, when
considering a sealing request, “a strong presumption in
favor of access is the starting point.”
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178. (internal quotation
to Rule 26(c), a trial court has broad discretion to permit
sealing of court documents for the protection of “a
trade secret or other confidential research, development, or
commercial information.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1)(G). As
the Supreme Court has recognized, sealing may be justified to
prevent judicial documents from being used “as sources
of business information that might harm a litigant's
competitive standing.” Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598.
The party seeking to seal a judicial record, however, must
show that “compelling reasons supported by specific
factual findings . . . outweigh the general history of access
and the public policies favoring disclosure.”
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178-79 (internal citations
omitted). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated
by specific examples of articulated reasoning” will not
suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co.,
966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992).
in the Western District of Washington, parties moving to seal
documents, even if it is a stipulated motion, must
comply with the procedures established by Civil Local Rule
5(g). Pursuant to Local Rule 5(g), the party who designates a
document confidential must provide a “specific
statement of the applicable legal standard and the reasons
for keeping a document under seal, including an explanation
of: (i) the legitimate private or public interest 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.” W.D. Wash. Local Rules LCR 5(g)(3)(B).
Furthermore, where the parties have entered into a litigation
agreement or stipulated protective order governing the
exchange of documents in discovery, 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). 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.
both parties have filed motions to seal, it is clear that
almost all the documents have been designated as confidential
by Defendants. Accordingly, the burden is on Defendants to
satisfy subpart (3)(B). See W.D. Wash. Local Rules
LCR 5(g)(3)(B). As an initial matter, the Court notes that
many of the pending motions to seal fail to comply with the
Local Rules and seek relief that is substantially overbroad.
Defendants frequently rely on boilerplate assertions of harm
to business interests in attempts to seal documents in their
entirety without demonstrating why no less restrictive
alternative would suffice. Furthermore, Defendants have
clearly not explored alternatives such as redacting, as they
request the Court to permit them to withdraw the exhibits and
“consider whether submission in redacted form is
possible, ” if their motions to seal are not granted.
Dkt. # 105. This is unacceptable. Defendants are abusing the
motions to seal process to drag the Court through an
inefficient, convoluted briefing process that serves no
purpose other than to confuse, overwhelm, and distract the
Court. Accordingly, the Court will not entertain the pending
Parties are hereby ORDERED to meet and confer and file a
joint statement concisely consolidating their positions on
any materials for sealing by November 15, 2019. Consistent
with the Court's statement on the October 31, 2019
teleconference, Defendants should take the lead in preparing
the joint statement since most, if not all, of the documents
have been designated as confidential by Defendants. The joint
statement must include (i) specific examples of harm from the
designating party that would result from allowing the
submitted materials, or portions thereof, into the public
domain and (ii) articulated reasons as to why alternatives to
sealing would be insufficient. The parties should also
indicate those documents that were previously sealed which
they no longer believe should remain sealed.
joint statement must include a chart of the parties'
positions in the form below. Additionally, the parties must
jointly submit to the Court a courtesy copy of the proposed
materials for sealing in a tabbed three-ring binder in the
order they appear in the chart. Where the designating party
is proposing that only portions of a document be sealed, the
redacted version shall immediately precede the document for
sealing in the tabbed binder.
Detailed Document Description
Specific Harm to Business Interests
Reasons why alternatives to sealing, such as
redactions, are insufficient
reasons stated above, the Court STRIKES the
parties' Motions to Seal (Dkt. Nos. 60, ...