Rinehart et al v. Walgreen Co.
ORDER signed by District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 5/15/17: The court tentatively finds it unnecessary for any part of the case to remain sealed. Within fourteen (14) days of this order, any party may SHOW CAUSE, if any there is, as to why the balance of the documents of record in this action should not be unsealed. (Kaminski, H)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ex rel.
DEBBIE G. RINEHART,
No. 2:14-cv-0148 KJM EFB
In its prior order unsealing the complaint and notice of intervention in this case,
the court explained “all other previously-filed contents of the Court’s file in this action remain
under seal and [shall] not be made public, or served upon defendant, pending further order of the
Court.” ECF No. 57. The court here revisits whether to unseal the balance of the docket in this
Generally, “lifting the seal on the entire record is appropriate unless the
government shows that such disclosure would: (1) reveal confidential investigative methods or
techniques; (2) jeopardize an ongoing investigation; or (3) harm non-parties.” U.S. ex rel. Lee v.
Horizon Wests, Inc., No. C 00-2921 SBA, 2006 WL 305966, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 8, 2006). “[I]f
the documents simply describe routine or general investigative procedures, without implicating
specific people or providing substantive details, then the Government may not resist disclosure.”
Id.; see United States v. CACI Int’l. Inc., 885 F. Supp. 80, 83 (S.D.N.Y. 1995). “The Qui Tam
statute evinces no specific intent to permit or deny disclosure of in camera material as a case
proceeds.” United States ex rel. Mikes v. Straus, 846 F. Supp. 21, 23 (S.D.N.Y. 1994). “[T]he
statute necessarily invests the court with authority to preserve secrecy of such items or make them
available to the parties.” Id. at 23. The court should also consider the public’s interest because
court records are generally open to the public. United States ex rel. Costa v. Baker & Taylor,
Inc., 955 F. Supp. 1188, 1191 (N.D. Cal. 1997).
The United States’ request to keep the balance of the docket under seal provides
minimal explanation. ECF No. 53. In particular, the United States has not provided an
explanation of how disclosure of all the materials in the case file would be harmful. Such harm is
not clear from the court’s review of the file either. The United States has not suggested any
governmental privilege exists, or pointed to any harm to ongoing investigations. See United
States ex rel. Lee, 2006 WL 305966, at *3.
Given the general nature of these documents, the court tentatively finds it
unnecessary for any part of the case to remain sealed. Within fourteen (14) days of this order,
any party may SHOW CAUSE, if any there is, as to why the balance of the documents of record
in this action should not be unsealed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: May 15, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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