Richard Pohly v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

Filing 105

ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James granting 96 Administrative Motion to File Under Seal. (mejlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/20/2017)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 RICHARD POHLY, Case No. 15-cv-04113-MEJ Plaintiff, 8 ORDER RE: ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL v. 9 10 INTUITIVE SURGICAL, INC., Re: Dkt. No. 96 Defendant. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 On April 13, 2017, Plaintiff Richard Pohly filed an administrative motion to file under seal 14 his Opposition to Defendant Intuitive Surgical, Inc.’s (“ISI”) Motion in Limine No. 6. Mot., Dkt. 15 No. 96; Opp’n, Dkt. No. 96-1. Plaintiff argues the Opposition contains materials ISI designated as 16 confidential pursuant to the parties’ protective order. See Mot.; see Protective Order, Dkt. No. 44. 17 Having considered the parties’ arguments and the relevant legal authority, the Court issues the 18 following order. 19 20 LEGAL STANDARD There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” by the public to judicial records and 21 documents accompanying dispositive motions. Kamakana v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 22 1172, 1178-79 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 23 (9th Cir. 2003)). To overcome this presumption, a “party must articulate compelling reasons 24 supported by specific fact[s].” Id. at 1178 (internal quotation and citation omitted); see also 25 Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., 727 F.3d 1214, 1223 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (finding sealing 26 appropriate where companies “filed declarations from employees” that “explained the measures 27 the two companies take to keep their product-specific financial information confidential” and “the 28 harm they would suffer if their product-specific financial information were made public”). 1 Indeed, such showing is required even where “the dispositive motion, or its attachments, were 2 previously filed under seal or protective order.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. But the presumption does not apply in the same way to nondispositive motions, “such that 3 4 the usual presumption of the public’s right of access is rebutted.” Id. (citing Phillips v. General 5 Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002). “Good cause” is the proper standard when 6 parties wish to seal records attached to a nondispositive motion. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 7 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). DISCUSSION 8 The good cause standard applies to documents filed in connection with nondispositive 9 motions in limine. See TVIIM, LLC v. McAfee, Inc., 2015 WL 3776424, at *2 (N.D. Cal. June 16, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 2015). 12 Under the Local Rules of this District, where a party seeks to file under seal any material 13 designated as confidential by another party, the submitting party must file a motion for a sealing 14 order. See Civil L.R. 79-5(d)-(e). ISI, as the designating party, submits the Declaration of David 15 Stoffel and the Declaration of Emily Reitmeier in support of Plaintiff’s Motion. Stoffel Decl., 16 Dkt. No. 104-2; Reitmeier Decl., Dkt. No. 104-3. ISI seeks to seal only a limited portion of the 17 Opposition. See Reitmeier Decl., Ex. A at 5 (proposed redactions). ISI represents the proposed 18 redactions contain information that “constitutes commercially valuable confidential and 19 proprietary information” which could be used by competitors to ISI’s disadvantage if made public. 20 ISI Resp. at 2, Dkt. No. 104; Stoffel Decl. ¶ 3. Specifically, the information concerns “a product 21 not yet released to the public and the technology used in that product.” ISI Resp. at 2; see Stoffel 22 Decl. ¶ 4 (“[T]he redacted information relates to products still in their testing phases that have not 23 yet been released to the public and are not for sale.”). Stoffel declares that “[r]elease of 24 information about a new product could result in improper use by business competitors seeking to 25 replicate ISI’s new products, and circumvent the considerable time[] and resources[] necessary in 26 product development and design.” Stoffel Decl. ¶ 7. 27 28 “[C]ourts have refused to permit their files to serve . . . as sources of business information that might harm a litigant’s competitive standing[.]” Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 2 1 589, 598 (1978); see Asetek Danmark A/S v. CMI USA, Inc., 2015 WL 4116738, at *2 (N.D. Cal. 2 July 7, 2015) (applying more stringent compelling reasons standard and granting motion to file 3 under seal information that could place plaintiff at a competitive disadvantage). ISI has 4 established that the information sought to be sealed relates to ISI’s confidential research or 5 development and that disclosure could cause it competitive harm. ISI’s proposed redactions are 6 narrowly tailored to address that risk. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(b). As such, the Court GRANTS 7 Plaintiff’s Motion to file its Opposition to ISI’s Motion in Limine No. 6 under seal. Plaintiff shall 8 refile its Motion with ISI’s proposed redactions no later than April 27, 2017. 9 The Court once more directs the parties to follow Civil Local Rule 79-5(d)(1)(D). The Court advised the parties about this rule in a prior Order regarding motions to seal. See Order at 1 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 n.1, Dkt. No. 64. In the future, the Court will strike documents that do not comply with this rule. 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 15 16 17 Dated: April 20, 2017 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?