Student A et al v. Berkeley Unified School District et al

Filing 33

ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James denying without prejudice 5 Administrative Motion to File Under Seal. (mejlc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/17/2017)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 STUDENT A, ET AL., 7 Case No. 17-cv-02510-MEJ Plaintiffs, 8 ORDER RE: ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL v. 9 BERKELEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al., 10 Defendants. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Re: Dkt. No. 5 12 INTRODUCTION 13 On May 2, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an administrative motion to file under seal portions of the 14 15 following: (1) Exhibits 1 and 4 attached to their Complaint (Dkt. No. 1); (2) Applications for the 16 Appointment of Guardians Ad Litem (Appls., Dkt. Nos. 6-9); and (3) Plaintiffs’ Reference List 17 (Dkt. No. 5-23). Dkt. No. 5. Having considered Plaintiffs’ arguments,1 the relevant legal 18 authority, and the record in this case, the Court issues the following order. LEGAL STANDARD 19 There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” by the public to judicial records and 20 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 27 28 1 As Defendants have not yet appeared in this action, they have not had an opportunity to oppose the Motion. 1 appropriate where companies “filed declarations from employees” that “explained the measures 2 the two companies take to keep their product-specific financial information confidential” and “the 3 harm they would suffer if their product-specific financial information were made public”). 4 Indeed, such showing is required even where “the dispositive motion, or its attachments, were 5 previously filed under seal or protective order.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. 6 This presumption does not apply in the same way to non-dispositive motions, “such that 7 the usual presumption of the public's right of access is rebutted.” Id. (citing Phillips v. General 8 Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002). “Good cause” is the proper standard when 9 parties wish to keep records attached to a non-dispositive motion under seal. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). Simply put, records attached to dispositive 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 motions require the court to apply the compelling reasons standard, whereas records attached to 12 non-dispositive motions require the court to apply the “good cause” standard. See id. at 678–79. DISCUSSION 13 14 15 A. Exhibits 1 and 4 Courts in this District treat a complaint as a dispositive motion. Rieckborn v. Velti PLC, 16 2014 WL 4964313, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2014); see In re NVIDIA Corp. Derivative Litig., 2008 17 WL 1859067, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 23, 2008) (“While a complaint is not, per se, the actual 18 pleading by which a suit may be disposed of, it is the root, the foundation, the basis by which a 19 suit arises and must be disposed of.”). As such, the compelling reasons standard applies to 20 Exhibits 1 and 4 to the Complaint. 21 Exhibit 1 consists of a Compliance Resolution Process Complaint (“CRP Complaint”) that 22 the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (“DREDF”) filed with the California 23 Department of Education (“CDOE”) on May 29, 2015, which includes declarations by parents of 24 minor students with disabilities. See Compl., Ex. 1. Exhibit 4 is a Reconsideration Investigation 25 Report by CDOE. See id., Ex. 4. 26 Plaintiffs seek to seal those portions of Exhibit1 that identify their children’s initials, the 27 parents’ names and contact information, and the schools their children attend. See Ex. 1. 28 Plaintiffs also seek to redact the students’ initials in Exhibit 4. See Ex. 4 at 1. In support of their 2 1 Motion, Plaintiffs submit the Declaration of Larisa Cummings. Cummings Decl., Dkt. No. 5-1. 2 The Cummings Declaration is insufficient to justify sealing the requested material, as it 3 does not state with particularity the need to file Exhibits 1 and 4 under seal. Civil L.R. 79-5(d); 4 see Cummings Decl. Cummings declares that Exhibit 1 contains “personally identifiable 5 information of minors and their parents” and that “Exhibit 4 . . . references the same students by 6 their initials, all of whom are minors who attend or who have attended BUSD schools.” 7 Cummings Decl. ¶¶ 3-4. This is no more than a description of the Exhibits; Cummings does not 8 otherwise explain why this information should be sealed. Plaintiffs argue that “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2 requires that a minor’s identity 10 must be protected and kept out of the public record.” Mot. at 2. This misrepresents the scope of 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 the Rule. In relevant part, Rule 5.2(a)(3) provides that “in an electronic or paper filing with the 12 court that contains . . . the name of an individual known to be a minor . . . , a party or nonparty 13 making the filing may include only . . . the minor’s initials[.]” While Rule 5.2(a)(3) permits 14 parties to identify minors only by their initials, it does not provide a basis for sealing their initials. 15 Cummings does not demonstrate Plaintiffs are entitled to sealing. Furthermore, Plaintiffs fail to 16 show specific reasons why the parents’ names should be redacted. Plaintiffs shall be permitted four days from the date of this Order to provide additional 17 18 information to conform with Local Rule 79-5. If Plaintiffs fail to do so, their Motion will be 19 denied. Supplemental filings may not exceed five pages, excluding declarations and exhibits. 20 Plaintiffs must identify “a limited amount of exceptionally sensitive information that truly 21 deserves protection” under the “compelling reasons” standard of Kamakana, outlined by page and 22 line number and including “specific factual findings” for each. See O’Connor v. Uber Techs., 23 Inc., 2015 WL 355496, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2015). 24 B. 25 Applications for the Appointment of Guardians Ad Litem The good cause standard applies to the non-dispositive Applications. Plaintiffs request the 26 Court seal the portions of their Applications and accompanying Declarations that contain 27 Plaintiffs’ birthdates and the names of the guardians ad litem. 28 The Court previously denied Plaintiffs’ Motion to Proceed Using Fictitious Names and 3 1 ordered Plaintiffs to either refile this Motion or refile their Complaint with their initials and the 2 true names of their guardians ad litem. Order, Dkt. No. 32. The renewed motion or the refiled 3 Complaint is due May 31, 2017. Id. at 8. As such, the Court DENIES WITHOUT 4 PREJUDICE the Motion to Seal the names of the guardians ad litem. If Plaintiffs refile a motion 5 to proceed using fictitious names, they may also refile their motion to seal the names of the 6 guardians ad litem. In addition, Rule 5.2(a)(2) allows a court filing to list only an individual’s birth year. 7 Plaintiffs nonetheless included their months and dates of their birth in the Declarations of 9 proposed guardians ad litem. See Dkt. Nos. 6-1, 7-1, 8-1, 9-1. As such, the Court GRANTS IN 10 PART the Motion as to Plaintiffs’ birth dates: Plaintiffs may redact only the month and date of 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 their birth. 12 C. Reference List 13 Plaintiffs argue the Reference List contains the full names of each Plaintiff and their 14 guardians ad litem. Mot. at 3. The Court previously struck Plaintiffs’ Reference List on the 15 ground that it did not accurately match each Plaintiff’s identity with the correct pseudonym. See 16 Order at 3 n.2; compare Reference List with Appls.; Compl. As such, the Court DENIES AS 17 MOOT the Motion as to the Reference List.2 CONCLUSION 18 For the foregoing reasons, the Court ORDERS the following: 19 1. No later than May 23, 2017, Plaintiffs shall submit a declaration that states 20 21 with specificity why the minors’ initials and their parents’ names and 22 contact information contained in Exhibits 1 and 4 are sealable. If no 23 declaration is filed, the Motion shall be denied. 2. The Motion as to names of the guardians ad litem is DENIED WITHOUT 24 25 26 27 28 2 Cummings declares that “[i]f this information is publicly disclosed as part of this Court’s record, Plaintiff students – most of whom attend schools in [Berkeley Unified School District] – would face significant exposure and potential harm.” Cummings Decl. ¶ 6. This generalized statement does not demonstrate that specific harm or prejudice may result if Plaintiffs’ names are disclosed. See Allagas v. BP Solar Int’l, Inc., 2016 WL 324040, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 27, 2016). 4 1 PREJUDICE. Plaintiffs may refile this motion if they also refile their 2 motion to proceed using fictitious names. 3 3. The Motion as to Plaintiffs’ birth dates is GRANTED IN PART. Plaintiffs 4 may redact the months and dates of their birth. Plaintiffs shall refile the 5 Applications in the public docket in accordance with this Order no earlier 6 than May 23, 2017 and no later than May 30, 2017. 7 4. The Motion as to Plaintiffs’ Reference List is DENIED AS MOOT. 8 9 IT IS SO ORDERED. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 Dated: May 17, 2017 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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