United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO SEAL
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court are Defendant Welltok, Inc.'s
(“Welltok”) motion to seal (Welltok MTS (Dkt. #
47)) and two motions to seal filed by Plaintiff Edifecs, Inc.
(“Edifecs”) (1st Edifecs MTS (Dkt. #86); 2d
Edifecs MTS (Dkt. # 99)) (collectively, the
“Motions”). 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 the Motions.
court has detailed this case's factual and procedural
background in prior orders and will not repeat it in detail
here. (See 1/9/20 Order (Dkt. # 110) (sealed) at
2-10; 11/8/19 Order (Dkt. # 76) at 2-6.) In sum, this is a
tortious interference case that revolves around Edifecs'
allegation that Welltok's former Vice President of Sales,
David Profant, “engaged in an unlawful raid of senior
Edifecs employees.” (See 11/8/19 Order at 4.)
The parties seek to seal documents submitted in connection
with Welltok's motion for summary judgment (Welltok MSJ
(Dkt. # 29)); Edifecs' response to Welltok's motion
for summary judgment (Edifecs MSJ Resp. (Dkt. # 85));
Welltok's motion to exclude the expert testimony of Todd
D. Menenberg (Welltok MTE (Dkt. # 45)); and Edifecs'
response to the court's order to show cause (Edifecs OSC
Resp. (Dkt. # 98)).
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
Welltok's Motion to Seal
seeks to seal certain exhibits to the Declaration of Anne
Cohen in support of Welltok's motion for summary
judgment. (See Welltok MTS at 1.) Welltok originally
filed Exhibits 1-21 to the declaration of Anne Cohen under
seal. (See Id. (citing Cohen Decl. (Dkt. # 21));
see also Cohen Exhibits (Dkt. ## 49-69).) However,
after conferring, Edifecs and Welltok “reach[ed]
agreement that certain documents did not need to be filed
under seal.” (See Id. at 2.) The parties
agreed that the unredacted Cohen Exhibits 1, 13, 15, 17, 18,
20, and 21 may be filed publicly. (See Edifecs Resp.
to Welltok MTS (Dkt. # 79) at 2.) The parties further agreed
that Cohen Exhibits 2-12, 16, and 19 should remain under
seal. (See Id. at 3.) The parties further agreed
that a version of Cohen Exhibit 14 that redacts the name of
an employee not relevant to this dispute may be filed
publicly. (See id.) Edifecs submitted redacted
versions of Cohen Exhibits 10 and 16 that it agrees may be
filed publicly. (See Id. at 5-6.)
court finds there are compelling reasons to seal the
requested exhibits and GRANTS in part Welltok's motion to
seal. The exhibits at issue contain customer and employee
personal information, details about employee compensation and
terms of employment, and other non-public, sensitive