Ryan v. Costco Wholesale Corporation et al

Filing 42

ORDER denying 36 Motion to Seal. If Defendants want the Court to consider Exhibit 3, they must resubmit the document for filing in the public record within 5 days of entry of this order, in accordance with LRCiv 5.6(e). Signed by Judge Douglas L Rayes on 2/6/24. (MAP)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 John Ryan, No. CV-22-00419-PHX-DLR Plaintiff, 10 11 v. 12 Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., 13 ORDER Defendants. 14 15 16 Plaintiff John Ryan brings this premises liability case against Defendants Costco 17 Wholesale Corporation and Costco Wholesale Membership Incorporated based on a slip 18 and fall that occurred in February 2020. Defendants have moved for summary judgment. 19 (Doc. 34.) As Exhibit 3 in support of that motion, Defendants submitted to the Court a disc 20 containing two angles of surveillance footage of Plaintiff’s fall, along with a media player 21 program with which to view the footage. Defendants move for leave to file Exhibit 3 under 22 seal. (Doc. 36.) 23 The public has a right to access judicial records. San Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. 24 U.S. Dist. Court—N. Dist. (San Jose), 187 F.3d 1096, 1101 (9th Cir. 1999). The Court 25 therefore begins “with a strong presumption in favor of access to court records,” Foltz v. 26 State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003), and a party seeking 27 to overcome this presumption and file a record under seal generally must provide a 28 compelling reason for doing so, Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1 1096 (9th Cir. 2016). The Ninth Circuit has carved out an exception to this general rule 2 “for sealed materials attached to a discovery motion unrelated to the merits of the case.” 3 Id. at 1097. A party seeking to seal such materials “need only satisfy the less exacting ‘good 4 cause’ standard.” Id. Although earlier decisions from the Ninth Circuit sometimes used the 5 words “dispositive” and “non-dispositive” to describe the dividing line between those 6 records governed by the compelling reasons standard and those governed by the good cause 7 standard, the Ninth Circuit has since clarified that “[t]he focus ... is on whether the motion 8 at issue is more than tangentially related to the underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1099. 9 The exception to the ordinary compelling reasons standard applies only to records that are 10 unrelated or merely tangentially related to the merits of a case. Sealing documents 11 appended to a motion that is more than tangentially related to the merits of a case requires 12 a compelling justification. Defendants’ motion is governed by the more demanding 13 compelling reasons test because the exhibit they seek to seal is attached to a dispositive 14 motion and more than tangentially related to the merits. Defendants offer two reasons why 15 they believe Exhibit 3 should be sealed, neither of which the Court finds compelling. 16 First, Defendants note that they designated the surveillance footage as 17 “Confidential” pursuant to the protective order entered in this case. (Doc. 19.) “[B]ut the 18 fact that a document is treated as confidential pursuant to a protective order is not, without 19 more, a compelling reason for sealing that document once it is used to support a dispositive 20 motion.” Blum v. Banner Health, No. CV-20-00409-PHX-DLR, 2021 WL 5446460, at *1 21 (D. Ariz. Nov. 22, 2021). 22 Second, Defendants argue that the surveillance footage “is deserving of protection 23 from use or publication outside the scope of this lawsuit” because “Costco’s primary use 24 for its surveillance system is asset protection and theft deterrence[.]” (Doc. 36 at 1.) But it 25 is common knowledge that commercial retail businesses routinely use surveillance cameras 26 to protect their wares and deter theft. The unremarkable fact that Costco stores use 27 surveillance cameras is not a compelling reason to seal the footage. Accordingly, 28 IT IS ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to seal (Doc. 36) is DENIED. If -2- 1 Defendants want the Court to consider Exhibit 3, they must resubmit the document for 2 filing in the public record within 5 days of entry of this order, in accordance with LRCiv 3 5.6(e). 4 Dated this 6th day of February, 2024. 5 6 7 8 9 Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3-

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