O'Connor et al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al

Filing 572

ORDER by Judge Edward M. Chen Granting in Part and Denying in Part 516 Plaintiffs' Administrative Motion to File Under Seal. (emcsec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/6/2016)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 10 v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., et al., Defendants. For the Northern District of California United States District Court 11 12 15 16 ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS’ ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL O’Connor, Docket No. 516 Yucesoy, Docket No. 204 HAKAN YUCESOY, et al., Plaintiffs, 13 14 Case No. 15-cv-0262-EMC Plaintiffs, 8 9 Case No. 13-cv-03826-EMC DOUGLAS O'CONNOR, et al., v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., et al., Defendants 17 18 I. INTRODUCTION 19 On April 21, 2016, Plaintiffs in O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. and Yucesoy v. Uber 20 Technologies, Inc. filed a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement. O’Connor, Docket No. 21 518. Plaintiffs also filed an administrative motion to file under seal certain portions of the motion 22 and attached declarations and exhibits. O’Connor, Docket No. 516. The Court subsequently 23 issued an Order to Show Cause, requesting further briefing on the motion to file under seal given 24 that “a significant portion of the information that the parties seek to file under seal is highly 25 material to an assessment of whether Plaintiffs‟ settlement falls within the range of possible 26 approval.” O’Connor, Docket No. 531 at 2. Having reviewed the parties‟ filings, the Court 27 GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiffs‟ motion to file under seal. 28 II. 1 2 A. DISCUSSION Applicable Legal Standard In determining whether to grant a motion to file under seal, the Court “must 3 4 conscientiously balance the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to keep 5 certain judicial records secret.” Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th 6 Cir. 2006) (citation and internal modifications omitted). Where the records pertain to a dispositive 7 motion, sealing must be justified by a compelling reason and supported by an articulated factual 8 basis. Id. “Compelling reasons sufficient to outweigh the public‟s interest in disclosure and 9 justify sealing court records exist when such court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes, such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate 11 libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. In order to grant a motion to seal documents when applying the “compelling reasons” 12 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 13 standard, this Court must “base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual basis 14 for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. at 1179 (citations omitted). As a 15 number of courts in this district have suggested, “only documents of exceptionally sensitive 16 information” will be kept from the public. Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., No. 11-cv- 17 1846-LHK, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99188, 2012 WL 2913669, at *2 (N.D. Cal. July 17, 2012) 18 (emphasis added); see also Oracle Am. v. Google, Inc., No. 10-cv-3561-WHA, at ECF No. 540 19 (noting that sealing motions “will be denied outright” unless counsel identified “a limited amount 20 of exceptionally sensitive information that truly deserves protection”). 21 /// 22 /// 23 /// 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 2 1 B. Application of the Compelling Reasons Standard1 2 1. Information Related to Value of the Settlement 3 The Court DENIES the request to redact information about the potential value of each of relevant to assessing whether Plaintiffs‟ settlement falls within the range of possible approval. By 6 contrast, Uber‟s reasons for keeping this information under seal are largely hypothetical. For 7 example, Uber suggests that information on the value of the claims could be used to determine the 8 trends of usage or the effect of competitor‟s marketing efforts from 2010 to 2016. See O’Connor, 9 Docket No. 523-5 (Barnes Dec.), at ¶ 7. However, Uber does not explain how an aggregate 10 number of all miles driven or fares received over a period of several years could result in a 11 determination of trends of usage, particularly when the information is not broken down by year or 12 For the Northern District of California Plaintiffs‟ claims.2 As this Court noted in its Order to Show Cause, this information is highly 5 United States District Court 4 any other period. Similarly, Uber theorizes that competitors “could compare the mileage 13 information for the O’Connor class with the mileage information for California as a whole to 14 quantify the breakdown of Uber‟s vehicle classes.” See Barnes Dec. at ¶ 6; O’Connor, Docket 15 No. 558. Again, Uber provides no explanation for how this is possible, given that the non- 16 certified class members were not based on vehicle class but whether an individual signed up to 17 drive directly with Uber under their individual name, or were paid directly and in their individual 18 name. See O’Connor, Docket No. 342 (Class Certification Ord.). This definition crosses vehicle 19 classes, such that the non-certified class members could very well include numerous individuals 20 who signed up under fictitious or corporate names but drove solely for uberX. More importantly, 21 1 22 23 24 25 26 The parties do not suggest that the Court should apply the standard applicable for non-dispositive motions. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179; see also O’Connor, Docket No. 523 (Uber Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs‟ Administrative Motion to File Under Seal) (applying compelling reasons standard). Given the significant public interest in this case, and the effect the settlement will have on a number of on-going litigation, the Court finds that the compelling reasons standard is appropriate. See also Keirsey v. eBay, Inc., Case No. 12-cv-1200-JST, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147573, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 11, 2013) (explaining that “a motion seeking the Court‟s preliminary approval of the settlement of the case may be effectively dispositive,” and concluding that “the „compelling reasons‟ standard is the appropriate standard.”). 2 27 28 In their response to the Order to Show Cause, Uber withdrew its request to seal Plaintiffs‟ estimates of the aggregate value of their claims. See O’Connor, Docket No. 558. Uber did not withdraw its request to seal Plaintiffs‟ estimates of the individual claims, i.e., the value of the expense reimbursement claim for vehicle use or the tips claims. 3 1 the information about the potential value of each claim is highly material to the assessment of the 2 fairness and adequacy of the settlement. 3 The Court therefore finds that Uber has failed to provide a compelling reason for why this 4 information should remain under seal, particularly when balanced against the public‟s significant 5 interest in this information. Uber‟s Valuation 6 2. 7 The Court DENIES the request to redact Uber‟s most recent valuation because this 8 information is publicly available. A simple Google search of “Uber valuation” yields numerous 9 articles and websites that provide the same valuation. See Eric Newcomer, Uber Raises Funding Valuation Put at $62.5 Billion After a New Investment Round, N.Y. Times, Dec. 3, 2015; Uber 12 For the Northern District of California at $62.5 Billion Valuation, Bloomberg Techn., Dec. 3, 2015; Mike Isaac & Leslie Picker, Uber 11 United States District Court 10 (company), Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uber_(company) (last visited May 6, 2016). 13 3. 14 The Court GRANTS the request to redact the number of opt-outs that would trigger 15 Number of Opt-Outs Uber‟s option to rescind and revoke the settlement. III. 16 17 CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS the request to file under seal the number 18 of opt-outs that would trigger Uber‟s option to rescind and revoke the settlement, and DENIES 19 the remainder of the motion to file under seal. Plaintiffs must file their motion for preliminary 20 approval and the accompanying declarations and exhibits, redacted consistent with this Order, by 21 Monday, May 9, 2016. 22 23 IT IS SO ORDERED. 24 25 26 27 Dated: May 6, 2016 ______________________________________ EDWARD M. CHEN United States District Judge 28 4

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