Wells Fargo & Company et al v. ABD Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. et al

Filing 161

ORDER by Judge Hamilton granting in part and denying in part 132 Administrative Motion to File Under Seal; granting 145 Administrative Motion to File Under Seal (pjhlc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/28/2014)

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1 2 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 3 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 4 5 6 WELLS FARGO AND CO., et al., 7 Plaintiffs, No. C 12-3856 PJH 8 v. ORDER RE MOTIONS TO SEAL 9 ABD INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES, et al., 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 Defendants. _______________________________/ 12 13 In connection with plaintiffs’ renewed motion for preliminary injunction, both parties 14 have filed motions to seal. Having read the parties’ papers and carefully considered their 15 arguments, and the relevant legal authority, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part 16 plaintiffs’ motion to seal, and GRANTS defendants’ motion to seal as follows. 17 A. 18 Legal Standard “The proponent of sealing bears the burden with respect to sealing. A failure to meet 19 that burden means that the default posture of public access prevails.” Kamakana v. City & 20 County of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1182 (9th Cir. 2006). Two standards generally govern 21 motions to seal documents like the ones at issue here.1 22 First, a “compelling reasons” standard applies to most judicial records. See id. at 23 1178; Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135-36 (9th Cir. 2003). This 24 standard derives from the common law right “to inspect and copy public records and 25 documents, including judicial records and documents.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 26 27 28 1 A third standard covers the “narrow range of documents” such as “grand jury transcripts” and certain “warrant materials” that “traditionally [have] been kept secret for important policy reasons.” Id. at 1178 (citation and quotation omitted). This third standard is not relevant here. 1 (quotations and citations omitted). To limit this common law right of access, a party 2 seeking to seal judicial records must show that “compelling reasons supported by specific 3 factual findings . . . outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 4 disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79 (quotations and citations omitted). 5 Second, a different standard applies to “private materials unearthed during 6 discovery,” as such documents are not part of the judicial record. Id. at 1180. Rule 26(c) 7 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs here, and the relevant standard is whether 8 “‘good cause’ exists to protect th[e] information from being disclosed to the public by 9 balancing the needs for discovery against the need for confidentiality.” Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002). This “good 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 cause” standard presents a lower burden for the party wishing to seal documents than the 12 “compelling reasons” standard. The cognizable public interest in judicial records that 13 underlies the “compelling reasons” standard does not exist for documents produced 14 between private litigants. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180; Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1134. 15 “Good cause” is also the standard applied when a party seeks access to previously sealed 16 discovery attached to a non-dispositive motion. Phillips, 307 F.3d at 1213. 17 In general, “compelling reasons” sufficient to outweigh the public's interest in 18 disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such “court files might have become 19 a vehicle for improper purposes,” such as the use of records to gratify private spite, 20 promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets. Id. at 1179. 21 In considering a motion to seal, the court begins with a strong presumption of public 22 access, and the party claiming that its records must be sealed is required to show that 23 “compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings . . . outweigh the general history 24 of access and the public policies favoring disclosure,” such as the public interest in 25 understanding the judicial process. Id. at 1178-79 (quotations and citations omitted). “The 26 mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant's embarrassment, 27 incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal 28 its records.” Id. 2 1 In this district, requests to file documents under seal in civil cases are governed by 2 Civil Local Rule 79-5, which provides that “[n]o document may be filed under seal . . . 3 except pursuant to a Court order that authorizes the sealing of the particular document, or 4 portions thereof[;]” and further, that a sealing order may issue only based upon a request 5 showing that the document, or portions thereof, is privileged, or protectable as a trade 6 secret, or otherwise entitled to protection under the law. Civ. L.R. 79-5(a). In particular, 7 “[t]he request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material . . . .” Id. 8 In addition, if a party seeks to file under seal a document that has been designated 9 confidential by another party pursuant to a protective order, or if a party wishes to refer in a memorandum of points and authorities to information so designated by another party, the 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 submitting party must file a motion for a sealing order, and the designating party must file a 12 declaration within seven days “establishing that the designated information is sealable, and 13 must lodge and serve a narrowly tailored proposed sealing order, or must withdraw the 14 designation of confidentiality. If the designating party does not file its responsive declaration 15 as required by this subsection, the document or proposed filing will be made part of the 16 public record.” Civ. L.R. 7-9(d). 17 B. 18 Wells Fargo’s motion Plaintiffs Wells Fargo & Co. and Wells Fargo Insurance Services (“Wells Fargo” or 19 “plaintiffs”) seek the sealing of one of their own documents2 (Ex. C to the declaration of 20 Robert Volkel), and one of defendants’ documents (Ex. YY to the declaration of Felicia 21 Boyd), along with portions of their renewed preliminary injunction motion that reference 22 Exhibit YY to the Boyd declaration. 23 Wells Fargo argues that Exhibit C to the Volkel declaration contains “copies of 24 25 26 27 28 2 Wells Fargo filed a number of additional documents under seal (Exhibits A-F and H to the declaration of Richard Lane, Exhibits A and B to the declaration of Robert Volkel, Exhibit A to the declaration of Lisa Bingham, and Exhibits F, I, O, P, Q, and T to the declaration of Felicia Boyd), noting that the court previously ruled that they could be filed under seal. Indeed, the court’s March 8, 2013 order ruled that those documents could be sealed, and that order remains in effect. See Dkt. 84. 3 1 checks from customers which include the account numbers and routing numbers.” The 2 court agrees that such information is properly sealable, and thus GRANTS Wells Fargo’s 3 motion to seal Exhibit C to the Volkel declaration. 4 As to Exhibit YY to the Boyd declaration, Wells Fargo “makes no claim that this 5 document should be filed under seal,” but notes that defendants claim that the document 6 contains confidential information. Indeed, defendants did file a supporting declaration 7 pursuant to Civil Local Rule 79-5(e), arguing that the document contains “sensitive 8 business and financial information,” including “overall financial plans and strategies” as well 9 as a “litigation analysis” that “discusses the status, potential outcomes, and financial implications” of this litigation. The court agrees that such information is properly sealable, 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 and thus GRANTS Wells Fargo’s motion to seal Exhibit YY of the Boyd declaration. 12 However, the portions of Exhibit YY that are referenced in Wells Fargo’s renewed 13 preliminary injunction motion do not disclose any detailed confidential information, and 14 contain only generalized statements regarding this litigation, including the statement that 15 any name change could be “funded out of operations,” which is also mentioned in 16 defendants’ own (unredacted) opposition brief. Thus, the court DENIES Wells Fargo’s 17 motion to seal to the extent that it seeks the redaction of portions of its renewed motion for 18 preliminary injunction. Wells Fargo is directed to file an unredacted version of its renewed 19 motion by September 5, 2014. 20 C. 21 Defendants’ motion Defendants seek the sealing of four of their own documents (Exhibits 27-29 and 31 22 to the declaration of Jayne Laiprasert). Defendants argue that these documents contain 23 information related to (1) efforts to purchase the book of business of departing Wells Fargo 24 brokers joining the ABD team, or (2) the ABD team’s business plan. Defendants also note 25 that the court previously granted a motion to seal those same four documents – though at 26 that time, they were filed as Exhibits 25-27 and 29 to the declaration of Kerry L. Duffy. 27 The court agrees that such information is properly sealable, and thus GRANTS 28 Wells Fargo’s motion to seal Exhibits 27-29 and 31 of the Laiprasert declaration. 4 1 IT IS SO ORDERED. 2 Dated: August 28, 2014 3 ______________________________ PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON United States District Judge 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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