Ashton Woods Holdings L.L.C. et al v. USG Corporation et al

Filing 76

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. GRANTING 72 RENEWED MOTION TO SEAL. (ndrS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/8/2021)

Download PDF
Case 4:15-cv-01247-HSG Document 76 Filed 02/08/21 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 8 ASHTON WOODS HOLDINGS L.L.C., et al., Plaintiffs, 9 v. ORDER GRANTING RENEWED MOTION TO SEAL Re: Dkt. No. 72 10 11 Case No. 15-cv-01247-HSG USG CORPORATION, et al., United States District Court Northern District of California Defendants. 12 Plaintiffs filed a renewed motion to file under seal portions of two of the three exhibits that 13 14 were the subject of Plaintiffs’ previous motion to seal. Dkt. No. 72. For the reasons articulated 15 below, the Court GRANTS 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). 28 Records attached to nondispositive motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of Case 4:15-cv-01247-HSG Document 76 Filed 02/08/21 Page 2 of 3 1 Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are often unrelated, or only 2 tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1179–80 (quotation omitted). This 3 requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information 4 is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th 5 Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific 6 examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 7 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). 8 9 II. DISCUSSION On October 13, 2020, Defendants requested leave to file a motion for reconsideration of the MDL Court’s summary judgment ruling on choice of law. Dkt. No. 59. Plaintiffs previously 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 filed an administrative motion to file documents under seal in connection with Defendants’ motion 12 for leave to move for reconsideration. Dkt. No. 61. Specifically, Plaintiffs sought to file under 13 seal the entirety of the summary judgment briefs, Exhibits 1-3 to the Declaration of Diane 14 Doolittle. See Dkt. No. 61-4 (Ex. 1); Dkt. No. 61-5 (Ex. 2); Dkt. No. 61-6 (Ex. 3). The Court 15 denied Plaintiffs’ motion because Plaintiffs failed to narrowly tailor their requests to only cover 16 the portions of the exhibits that refer directly to confidential and proprietary business information. 17 Dkt. No. 71. Plaintiffs now file a renewed motion seeking to seal select portions of Defendant’s 18 Opening Summary Judgment Brief and Plaintiff’s Opposition Brief. Dkt. No. 72. Because 19 Plaintiffs move to file documents related to Defendants’ motion to reconsider the MDL court’s 20 summary judgment ruling, the Court will apply the “compelling reasons” standard. 21 The Court finds that Plaintiffs have narrowly tailored their requests to only cover the 22 portions of the exhibits that refer directly to confidential and proprietary business information, or 23 sensitive personally identifiable information. As to Defendant’s Opening Summary Judgment 24 Brief, Plaintiffs move to seal a single image that “details the ways in which Plaintiffs . . . 25 purchased wallboard, through what entities, and where.” Id. at 4. The public release of this 26 information could give non-party competitors an unfair advantage. See In re Elec. Arts, Inc., 298 27 F. App’x 568, 569 (9th Cir. 2008) (ordering sealing where documents could be used “‘as sources 28 of business information that might harm a litigant’s competitive standing’”) (quoting Nixon v. 2 Case 4:15-cv-01247-HSG Document 76 Filed 02/08/21 Page 3 of 3 1 Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). As to Plaintiffs’ Opposition Brief, Plaintiffs 2 move to seal two phone numbers associated with Defendants’ employees. Id. The Court also 3 finds that compelling reasons exist to seal this potentially sensitive identifying information. See 4 Am. Auto. Ass’n of N. California, Nevada & Utah v. Gen. Motors LLC, No. 17-CV-03874-LHK, 5 2019 WL 1206748, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 14, 2019) (ordering sealing where documents contained 6 “personally identifiable information of third-party individuals, including” phone numbers). 7 III. 8 9 CONCLUSION Because the Court finds that Plaintiffs have established compelling reasons to seal the limited portions of the exhibits, Plaintiffs’ renewed motion to file under seal is GRANTED. The Court DIRECTS Plaintiffs to file redacted versions of these documents on the public docket 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 within seven days of this order. 12 13 14 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 2/8/2021 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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?