Racies v. Quincy Bioscience, LLC

Filing 300

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. ON ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL.(This order denies docket no. 263 ).(ndrS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/20/2020)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PHILLIP RACIES, Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 ORDER ON ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL Re: Dkt. No. 263 QUINCY BIOSCIENCE, LLC, Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 15-cv-00292-HSG 12 Defendant filed an administrative motion to file documents under seal in connection with 13 14 its brief concerning a dispute over whether Defendant may cross examine Plaintiff on his medical 15 condition. Dkt. No. 263. For the reasons articulated below, the Court DENIES the motion. 16 17 I. LEGAL STANDARD Courts generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard when considering motions to seal 18 documents. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kamakana 19 v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “This standard derives from the 20 common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records 21 and documents.’” Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). “[A] strong presumption in favor of 22 access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 (quotations omitted). To overcome this 23 strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial record attached to a dispositive motion 24 must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the 25 general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public interest in 26 understanding the judicial process” and “significant public events.” Id. at 1178–79 (quotations 27 omitted). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in 28 disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might have become a 1 vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public 2 scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. 3 Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). “The mere fact that the production of records 4 may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, 5 without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. Records attached to nondispositive motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of 6 Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are often unrelated, or only 8 tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1179–80 (quotations omitted). This 9 requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information 10 is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 7 Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific 12 examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 13 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). 14 15 II. DISCUSSION Because Defendant moves to file documents related to a nondispositive motion, the Court 16 will apply the lower good cause standard. Defendant seeks to file under seal Exhibit A to the 17 Declaration of Joshua G. Simon in support of Defendant’s brief concerning Plaintiff’s objection, 18 and portions of its brief which purportedly reference the proposed sealing material. Dkt. No. 263, 19 263-1. The only proffered justification for sealing is that the information was designated as 20 “Highly Confidential” by Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 263-1 ¶ 3. But a designation of confidentiality is not 21 sufficient to establish that a document is sealable. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(d)(1)(A). “Confidential” is 22 merely the parties’ initial designation of confidentiality to establish coverage under the stipulated 23 protective order. See Verinata Health, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., No. 12-cv-05501-SI, 2015 24 WL 5117083, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2015) (“But good cause ‘cannot be established simply by 25 showing that the document is subject to a protective order or by stating in general terms that the 26 material is considered to be confidential’”) (quoting Bain v. AstraZeneca LP, No. 09-cv-4147, 27 2011 WL 482767, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2011)). Thus, Defendant’s motion does not comply 28 with Civil Local Rule 79-5(d)(1)(A). In addition, as the designating party for the materials, 2 1 Plaintiff did not comply with Civil Local Rule 79-5(e)(1), because he did not file a declaration 2 within four days of Defendant’s motion. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1). Further, the Court has reviewed Exhibit A and does not believe it contains confidential 3 4 information concerning Plaintiff’s medical condition, and therefore does not warrant sealing. 5 Accordingly, the Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to seal Exhibit A and the unredacted version 6 of its brief. 7 III. CONCLUSION The Court DENIES Defendant’s administrative motion to file under seal. Dkt. No. 263. 9 The Court DIRECTS Defendant to file public versions of all documents for which the proposed 10 sealing has been denied within seven days of this order. Defendant may also file a new motion to 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 8 seal within seven days of this order according to the requirements discussed above. Pursuant to 12 Civil Local Rule 79-5(f)(1), documents filed under seal as to which the administrative motions are 13 granted will remain under seal. 14 15 16 17 18 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 2/20/2020 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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