Salazar, et al. v. SYSCO Central California, Inc.

Filing 19

ORDER Granting 18 Joint Request to Seal Documents, signed by District Judge Dale A. Drozd on 1/5/2017. (Gaumnitz, R)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 JESUS SALAZAR and MATTHEW VALENCIA, Plaintiffs, 13 ORDER GRANTING JOINT REQUEST TO SEAL DOCUMENTS v. 14 15 No. 1:15-cv-01758-DAD-SKO SYSCO CENTRAL CALIFORNIA, INC., (Doc. No. 18) Defendant. 16 17 On December 2, 2016, the parties filed a joint stipulation and motion for approval of a 18 19 settlement pursuant to California’s Private Attorney General Act (“PAGA”). (Doc. No. 15.) 20 Therein, the parties stated that after engaging in mediation, they had agreed to a settlement of 21 plaintiffs’ claims, including their representative claims under PAGA. On December 21, 2016, the 22 court issued an order directing the parties to file supplemental briefing, including a copy of the 23 fully executed settlement agreement for the court to review and approve. (Doc. No. 16.) On 24 December 29, 2016, the parties submitted supplemental briefing as well as a request to seal 25 portions of the settlement agreement not relevant to the court’s consideration and approval. For 26 the reasons set forth below, the parties’ request to seal is granted. 27 ///// 28 ///// 1 1 2 LEGAL STANDARD There is strong presumption in favor of public access to court records. See Phillips v. Gen 3 Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210 (9th Cir. 2002). However, “access to judicial records is not 4 absolute.” Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006). The 5 Ninth Circuit has distinguished between the public’s interest in accessing court records filed in 6 connection with dispositive and non-dispositive motions. See In re Midland Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 7 686 F.3d 1115, 1119 (9th Cir. 2012); Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1172; Foltz v. State Farm Mut. 8 Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135–36 (9th Cir. 2003); Phillips, 307 F.3d at 1213. 9 District courts in this circuit have differed on whether a motion to approve a settlement 10 agreement is dispositive for sealing purposes. See Select Portfolio Servicing v. Valentino, No. C 11 12-0334 SI, 2013 WL 1800039, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 29, 2013) (collecting cases). Nevertheless, 12 this court concludes that because settlement of claims brought pursuant to PAGA require some 13 degree of public oversight, see Cal. Lab. Code § 2699(l)(2), and because the proposed settlement 14 agreement before the court will bind plaintiffs and other aggrieved employees thereby releasing 15 them from certain claims, the parties’ motion is dispositive for sealing purposes and the 16 “compelling reasons” standard should apply here. See, e.g., Ambrosino v. Home Depot U.S.A., 17 Inc., No. 11CV1319 L MDD, 2014 WL 931780, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 10, 2014) (applying 18 “compelling reasons” standard in FLSA settlement context); M.P. ex rel. Provins v. Lowe’s 19 Companies, Inc., No. 2:11-CV-01985-GEB, 2012 WL 1574801, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May 3, 2012) 20 (applying “compelling reasons” standard for approval of minor’s compromise); see also Hall v. 21 Cty. of Fresno, No. 1:11-CV-2047-LJO-BAM, 2016 WL 374550, at *5 (E.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2016) 22 (noting propriety of “compelling reasons” standard in the class action settlement and EEOC 23 consent decree contexts). 24 To demonstrate compelling reasons, a party is “required to present articulable facts 25 identifying the interests favoring continued secrecy, and to show that these specific interests 26 [overcome] the presumption of access by outweighing the public interest in understanding the 27 judicial process.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1181 (internal citations, quotation marks, and emphasis 28 omitted). The party seeking to seal a particular record bears the burden of meeting this standard. 2 1 Id. at 1178; Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135. “When sealing documents attached to a dispositive pleading, 2 a district court must base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual basis for its 3 ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1182 (internal 4 citation, quotation marks, and emphasis omitted); see also Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 5 F.3d 665, 679 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. denied sub nom. Experian Info. Solutions, Inc. v. Pintos, 562 6 U.S. 1134 (2011) (vacating and remanding district court’s denial of a sealing request where the 7 court applied merely the good cause standard in addressing documents filed in connection with 8 summary judgment motions). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the 9 public’s interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might 10 become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify private spite, 11 promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Kamakana, 447 12 F.3d at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns., Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 589 (1978)). “The 13 ‘compelling reasons’ standard is invoked even if the dispositive motion, or its attachments, were 14 previously filed under seal or protective order.” Id. 15 16 17 DISCUSSION Here, the parties request that this court grant them leave to file a copy of the executed settlement agreement with the following sections redacted: 18  Section 1, subsections A–E, on page 2; 19  The final two complete paragraphs of Section 1 (immediately following subsection 20 F and preceding Section 2), on page 3; 21  Section 10.5, on page 7; and 22  The name, signature, and title of the signatory for defendant Sysco Central 23 24 California, Inc. The court finds that the parties have presented sufficiently “compelling reasons” for the 25 sealing these portions of the settlement agreement. These sections of the agreement pertain to 26 aspects of the parties’ agreement that are not relevant to settlement of plaintiff’s PAGA claims. 27 Thus, but for plaintiffs’ PAGA claims, the parties would have had no reason to submit these 28 portions of the agreement to the court for approval, or otherwise publicly disclose these terms. 3 1 Accordingly, in recognition of the parties’ interests in keeping the terms of their non-PAGA- 2 related settlement terms confidential and the minimal public interest in disclosure, the court finds 3 good cause to grant the parties’ request to seal. 4 CONCLUSION 5 For the reasons set forth above, 6 1. The parties’ joint request to seal portions of the settlement agreement (see Doc. No. 7 8 18) is granted; 2. The parties are directed to submit copies of (1) their Joint Request to Seal Documents; 9 (2) the Declaration of Aaron M. Rutschman, including an unredacted copy of the 10 settlement agreement; and (3) their proposed order, to the Clerk of the Court within 11 seven days of the date of this order, to be filed under seal in accordance with Local 12 Rule 141(e)(2)(i); and 13 3. The parties are further directed to electronically file, within seven days of the date of 14 this order, a redacted copy the settlement agreement in support of their joint 15 stipulation and motion for approval, with the following sections redacted: 16  Section 1, subsections A–E, on page 2; 17  The final two complete paragraphs of Section 1 (immediately following 18 subsection F and preceding Section 2), on page 3; 19  Section 10.5, on page 7; and 20  The name, signature, and title of the signatory for defendant Sysco Central 21 22 23 California, Inc. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: January 5, 2017 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 4

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