Ashker et al v. Schwarzenegger et al

Filing 210

ORDER by Judge Claudia Wilken DENYING 196 PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO SEAL. (ndr, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 5/21/2013)

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1 2 3 4 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 TODD ASHKER, et al., Plaintiffs, 8 9 No. C 09-5796 CW ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO SEAL (Docket No. 196) v. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., 11 Defendants. ________________________________/ 12 13 On May 2, 2013, Plaintiffs moved to seal sections of Dr. 14 Terry Kupers’ declaration in support of their motion for class 15 certification. 16 sealing request is overbroad, the Court denies the motion. 17 Defendants oppose the motion. Because Plaintiffs’ The public interest favors filing all court documents in the 18 public record. 19 seal must demonstrate good cause to do so. 20 Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010). 21 be established simply by showing that the document is subject to a 22 protective order or by stating in general terms that the material 23 is considered to be confidential, but rather must be supported by 24 a sworn declaration demonstrating with particularity the need to 25 file each document under seal. 26 Thus, any party seeking to file a document under Pintos v. Pac. This cannot See Civil Local Rule 79–5(a). Here, Plaintiffs seek to seal paragraphs 11 through 30 of Dr. 27 Kupers’ declaration on the grounds that those paragraphs contain 28 “information relating to the past, present, and future physical 1 and mental health condition of Plaintiffs.” 2 reviewing the relevant excerpt of the declaration, the Court finds 3 that only paragraphs 18 through 27 -- which summarize the 4 individual interviews Dr. Kupers conducted with each of the ten 5 Plaintiffs -- contain potentially sealable information. 6 Paragraphs 11 through 17, in contrast, describe Plaintiffs’ mental 7 health in general terms without focusing on any individual 8 Plaintiff’s symptoms. 9 is either not sealable (such as the length of time Plaintiffs have Mot. 2. After These paragraphs disclose information that United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 spent in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit, see Kupers Decl. 11 ¶ 11) or that Plaintiffs themselves disclosed in their Second 12 Amended Complaint (such as their feelings of numbness, anger, 13 anxiety, fear, and other emotions, see Kupers Decl. ¶¶ 11-17). 14 Paragraphs 28 through 30 are also not sealable because, rather 15 than revealing sensitive medical information, these paragraphs 16 focus on Dr. Kupers’ methodology for determining whether or not 17 Plaintiffs are representative of other inmates in the Security 18 Housing Unit. 19 Although paragraphs 18 through 27 may contain some sealable 20 information, they may not be sealed in their entirety. 21 of these paragraphs contain information about each Plaintiff’s 22 racial background and length of imprisonment, neither of which 23 constitutes sealable information. 24 Furthermore, many of these paragraphs describe symptoms and 25 conditions that Plaintiffs previously disclosed in their 26 complaint. 27 remains sealable because their complaint merely consists of 28 allegations, rather than admissible medical evidence, this is a Almost all See Kupers Decl. ¶¶ 18-27. Although Plaintiffs contend that this information 2 1 distinction without a difference.1 2 complaint, they should have been prepared for the possibility that 3 they would eventually need to submit evidence supporting the 4 allegations made publicly therein. 5 When Plaintiffs filed their If Plaintiffs wish to seal portions of Dr. Kupers’ 6 declaration, they must file a renewed motion to seal. 7 must be narrowly tailored and should only seek to seal portions of 8 paragraphs 18 through 27 that do not mirror allegations in the 9 complaint. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 The motion CONCLUSION For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiffs’ motion to file 12 under seal (Docket No. 196) is DENIED. 13 order, Plaintiffs must either file an unredacted version of Dr. 14 Kupers’ declaration in the public record or submit a renewed 15 motion to seal consistent with the terms of this order. 16 Within seven days of this IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 Dated: 5/21/2013 19 CLAUDIA WILKEN United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 1 25 26 27 28 In fact, Plaintiffs themselves seem to acknowledge that information contained in a publicly filed complaint is not sealable. In their brief, they cite a sealing order issued in Vietnam Veterans of Am. v. Central Intelligence Agency, where this Court granted a motion to seal information about the “past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of persons not specifically made public in the Complaint.” 2012 WL 1094360, at *1-*2 (N.D. Cal.) (emphasis added). Their brief specifically quotes the highlighted language. 3

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