Racies v. Quincy Bioscience, LLC

Filing 135

ORDER by Hon. Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. DENYING 122 , 127 , & 131 Administrative Motions to File Under Seal. (hsglc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/22/2017)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PHILLIP RACIES, Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO SEAL Re: Dkt. Nos. 122, 127, 131 QUINCY BIOSCIENCE, LLC, Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 15-cv-00292-HSG 12 Pending before the Court are the parties’ motions to file under seal portions of their class 13 14 certification briefs and associated exhibits. Dkt. Nos. 122, 127, 131. No response to the motions 15 to seal was filed, and the time to do so has passed. 16 I. LEGAL STANDARD 17 “[A] ‘compelling reasons’ standard applies to most judicial records. This standard derives 18 from the common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial 19 records and documents.’” Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) 20 (quoting Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “[A] 21 strong presumption in favor of access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 22 (quotation omitted). To overcome this strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial 23 record attached to a dispositive motion must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific 24 factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 25 disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the judicial process” and “significant 26 public events.” Id. at 1178–79 (quotation omitted). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to 27 outweigh the public’s interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court 28 files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify 1 private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 2 1179 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). “The mere fact that 3 the production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to 4 further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. The Court must “balance[] the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to 5 6 keep certain judicial records secret. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal 7 certain judicial records, it must base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual 8 basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5 9 supplements the compelling reasons standard set forth in Kamakana: the party seeking to file a document or portions of it under seal must “establish[] that the document, or portions thereof, are 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law . . . . The 12 request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b). 13 Records attached to nondispositive motions are not subject to the strong presumption of 14 access. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Because the documents attached to nondispositive 15 motions “are often unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action,” 16 parties moving to seal must meet the lower “good cause” standard of Rule 26(c) of the Federal 17 Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. at 1179–80 (quotation omitted). The “good cause” standard requires 18 a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information is 19 disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th Cir. 20 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific 21 examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 22 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). Because the motion for class certification is more than tangentially related to the merits of 23 24 the underlying action, the Court applies the “compelling reasons” standard in evaluating the 25 motions to seal. 26 27 28 II. ANALYSIS On October 13, 2017, Plaintiff Phillip Racies filed an administrative motion to file under seal portions of his motion for class certification, as well as Exhibits A, F, and K to the declaration 2 1 of Patricia N. Syverson in support thereof. Dkt. No. 122. Plaintiff explained that Exhibits A and 2 F contain Defendant’s internal sales and marketing data and Exhibit K contains excerpts from 3 Plaintiff’s deposition. See Dkt. No. 122-1. The parties filed similar motions to seal portions of 4 their class certification briefs that relied on this same information. See Dkt. Nos. 127, 131. The 5 Court first addresses Defendant’s internal sales and marketing data and then Plaintiff’s deposition 6 excerpts. 7 A. Plaintiff seeks to redact Exhibits A and F because they contain internal sales and marketing 8 9 Sales and Marketing Data data that Defendant designated as “Confidential” under the protective order. See Dkt. No. 122-1 ¶ 3. Designating party and Defendant Quincy Biosciences, LLC did not file a declaration in 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 support of Plaintiff’s motion to seal, as required in this situation under the Local Rules. See Civ. 12 L.R. 79-5(e)(1) (“Within 4 days of the filing of the Administrative Motion to File Under Seal, the 13 Designating Party must file a declaration as required by subsection 79-5(d)(1)(A) establishing that 14 all of the designated material is sealable.”). The Court has previously cautioned the parties to 15 strictly comply with Local Rule 79-5 when seeking to file documents under seal. See Dkt. No. 61. 16 The Court, therefore, does not find compelling reasons to seal these exhibits or the related portions 17 of the parties’ class certification motions. 18 B. Deposition Transcript 19 Plaintiff also seeks to redact portions of Exhibit K, his deposition transcript, because the 20 parties have agreed that it should be designated “Confidential” under the protective order. Dkt. 21 No. 122-1 ¶ 5. Plaintiff clarifies in his related motion to seal portions of the reply brief that these 22 deposition excerpts “should remain confidential as [they] contain[] non-public personal 23 information that Plaintiff asserts could potentially adversely affect him in his professional career.” 24 Dkt. No. 131-1 ¶ 3; see also Dkt. No. 127-1 ¶ 3. The Court does not find support for this 25 characterization: the identified portions of the deposition reveal nothing more than that Plaintiff is 26 the named plaintiff in this action. The Court finds that Plaintiff has not carried his burden of 27 articulating “compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general 28 history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178. 3 1 2 III. CONCLUSION Accordingly, the Court DENIES the administrative motions to seal. Under Civil L.R. 79- 3 5(f), “the document[s] sought to be sealed will not be considered by the Court unless the 4 Submitting Party files an unredacted version of the document[s] within 7 days after the motion is 5 denied.” 6 7 8 9 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 11/22/2017 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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?