Harper v. Charter Communications, LLC et al

Filing 110

ORDER signed by Senior Judge William B. Shubb on 2/12/2021 DENYING 96 and 99 Requests to Seal Documents. (Huang, H)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ----oo0oo---- 11 12 13 14 LIONEL HARPER and DANIEL SINCLAIR, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated and all aggrieved employees, 17 18 ORDER RE: DEFENDANT’S REQUEST TO SEAL DOCUMENTS; PLAINTIFFS’ REQUEST TO SEAL DOCUMENTS Plaintiffs, 15 16 No. 2:19-cv-00902 WBS DMC v. CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, LLC, Defendant. 19 20 21 ----oo0oo---Plaintiffs Lionel Harper and Daniel Sinclair brought 22 this putative class action against defendant Charter 23 Communications, LLC (“Charter”) alleging various violations of 24 the California Labor and Business and Professions Code. 25 First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) (Docket No. 45).) 26 plaintiffs have filed requests to seal documents in support of 27 their filings related to Charter’s Motion for Summary Judgment. 28 (See Def.’s Req. to Seal Docs. (Docket No. 96-1); Pls.’ Req. to 1 (See Both Charter and 1 Seal Docs. (Docket No. 99-1).) 2 I. Charter’s Request 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Charter requests that the court seal the following documents: 1. Documents related to the training provided to Account Executives, which are Exhibit A to the Declaration of Andrea Benner (“Benner Declaration”) in support of Charter’s Motion; 2. Signed commission plan that applied to Plaintiff Lionel Harper during his employment with Charter, which is attached as Exhibit D to the Benner Declaration; 3. Signed commission plans that applied to Plaintiff Daniel Sinclair during his employment with Charter, which are attached as Exhibit F to the Benner Declaration; 4. The Synygy training Charter provided to Account Executives, which is attached as Exhibit G to the Benner Declaration; 5. Charter’s “Standards of Performance”, which is attached as Exhibit H to the Benner Declaration; 6. The October 19, 2015 corrective action issued to Plaintiff Daniel Sinclair, which is attached as Exhibit I to the Benner Declaration; 7. The April 4, 2016 corrective action issued to Plaintiff Daniel Sinclair, which is attached as Exhibit J to the Benner Declaration; 8. The Incident Investigation Report, which is attached as Exhibit K to the Benner Declaration; 9. The January 5, 2018 written corrective action issued to Plaintiff Lionel Harper, which is attached as Exhibit M to the Benner Declaration; and 10. The Incident Investigation Report and further corrective action related to Plaintiff Lionel Harper’s subpar performance, which is attached as Exhibit N 2 1 to the Benner Declaration. 2 (Def.’s Req. to Seal Docs. (Docket No. 96-1).) A party seeking to seal a judicial record bears the 3 4 burden of overcoming a strong presumption in favor of public 5 access. 6 1178 (9th Cir. 2006). 7 reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the 8 general history of access and the public policies favoring 9 disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the Kamakana v. City & County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, The party must “articulate compelling 10 judicial process.” 11 on a motion to seal, the court must balance the competing 12 interests of the public and the party seeking to keep records 13 secret. 14 Id. at 1178-79 (citation omitted). In ruling Id. at 1179. Defendant argues that the above-listed documents should 15 be sealed because (1) Charter has designated the documents as 16 confidential and subject to the parties’ Stipulation and 17 Protective Order (Docket No. 43); (2) the content of the 18 documents includes confidential and proprietary information, 19 including Charter’s internal training documents and other 20 employee policies, commission plans and other sales-related 21 documents; (3) Charter has maintained such documents as 22 confidential as part of its regular business practices; and (4) 23 there is no clear public interest in publicly disclosing the 24 information contained in these documents. 25 This court has previously pointed out that a 26 confidentiality agreement between the parties does not per se 27 constitute a compelling reason to seal documents that outweighs 28 the interests of public disclosure and access. 3 See Feb. 5, 2016 1 Order at 3, Wilson v. Conair Corp., Civ. No. 1:14-cv-00894; Oct. 2 8, 2014 Order at 2, Starbucks Corp. v. Amcor Packaging Distrib., 3 Civ. No. 2:13-1754; Sept. 3, 2015 Order at 3, Foster Poultry 4 Farms, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, Civ. No. 5 1:14-00953; Sept. 18, 2015 Order at 2, Rosales v. City of Chico, 6 Civ. No. 2:14-02152. 7 signed the stipulated protective order does not change this 8 principle. The fact that the assigned magistrate judge 9 Beyond its contention that the documents are subject to 10 the parties’ Stipulation and Protective Order, Charter offers the 11 general assertion that the content of the documents includes 12 confidential and proprietary information, including Charter’s 13 internal training documents and other employee policies, 14 commission plans, and other sales-related documents. 15 Charter provides no further guidance as to what sensitive 16 information these internal training documents, commission plans, 17 or “other sales-related documents” contain that would merit an 18 order sealing the documents from public view. 19 defendant has submitted to the court total 211 pages; it is not 20 the court’s burden to parse this substantial amount of material 21 to determine which portions contain sensitive information. 22 Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, 23 London, Civ. No. 1:14–00953 WBS SAB, 2015 WL 5608241, at *2 (E.D. 24 Cal. Sep. 23, 2015). However, The documents See 25 The court therefore finds that Charter has not provided 26 a compelling reason to shield the submitted documents from public 27 scrutiny. 28 seal. Accordingly, the court must deny Charter’s request to See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178. 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 II. Plaintiffs’ Request Plaintiffs request that the court seal the following documents: 1. Business Account Executive job description, which is Exhibit 5 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 2. Account Executive job description, which is Exhibit 6 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 3. Charter’s August 22, 2017 “Standards of Performance,” which is Exhibit 8 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 4. Charter’s July 2017 “Timekeeping Policy,” which is Exhibit 9 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 5. Charter’s December 2016 BAE New Hire Training “Participant Guide,” which is Exhibit 10 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 6. Charter’s January 2017 New Hire Training “Participant Guide,” which is Exhibit 11 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 7. Charter’s January 2017 Account Executive New Hire “Spectrum Sales Success Process,” which is Exhibit 12 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 8. Charter’s November 2014 Sales New Hire “Participant Playbook,” which is Exhibit 13 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 9. Excerpts of a spreadsheet showing Sinclair’s commission payments, which is Exhibit 14 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 10. Charter’s October 22, 2017 Commission Plan Addendum with Amended “Attachment A” commissions schedule, which is Exhibit 16 to the Soderstrom Declaration; 11. Harper’s Salesforce “Leads List Report,” which is Exhibit 17 to the Soderstrom Declaration; and (Pls.’ Req. to Seal Docs.) Plaintiffs offer almost exactly the same four reasons 26 why these documents should be sealed as Charter. 27 Plaintiffs merely add “Charter’s actual and potential customers” 28 as an example of proprietary information purportedly contained 5 (See id.) 1 within the documents. 2 provide the court with 203 pages of documents with little 3 guidance as to which portions contain sensitive information. 4 Accordingly, for the same reasons articulated above, the court 5 must deny plaintiffs’ request to seal. 6 1178. 7 (See id.) Like Charter, plaintiffs See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Charter and plaintiffs’ 8 request to seal documents (Docket Nos. 96, 99) be, and the same 9 hereby are, DENIED. 10 Dated: February 12, 2021 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6

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