Schneider et al v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

Filing 223

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. ON ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL (This order grants docket no. 181 ).(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 MARTIN SCHNEIDER, et al., Plaintiffs, 8 v. 9 10 ORDER ON ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL Re: Dkt. No. 181 CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC., Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 16-cv-02200-HSG 12 13 Pending before the Court is Defendant’s administrative motion to file under seal 14 documents in support of its motion to decertify the classes. The Court GRANTS Defendant’s 15 motion for the reasons described below. 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. The Court must “balance[] the competing interests of the public and the party who seeks to 6 7 keep certain judicial records secret. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal 8 certain judicial records, it must base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual 9 basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5 supplements the compelling reasons standard set forth in Kamakana: the party seeking to file a 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 document or portions of it under seal must “establish[] that the document, or portions thereof, are 12 privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law . . . The 13 request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b). Records attached to nondispositive motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of 14 15 Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are often unrelated, or only 16 tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.” See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179–80 17 (quotations omitted). This requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm 18 will result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 19 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of 20 harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman 21 Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). 22 23 II. DISCUSSION Defendant’s filings in connection with its motion to decertify the classes are more than 24 tangentially related to the underlying cause of action, so the Court applies the “compelling 25 reasons” standard. 26 The current sealing requests seek to seal information that contain confidential business and 27 financial information relating to the operations of Defendant, including sensitive marketing 28 information. Dkt. No. 181; Dkt. No. 181-1 at ¶¶ 3–15. The Court previously granted some of the 2 1 sealing requests seeking to seal materially identical information. See Dkt. No. 134. The Court did not rely on any of the documents that are the subject of Defendant’s 2 3 administrative motion to seal, given that the parties filed a notice of settlement and joint 4 stipulation to vacate all dates before the hearing on Defendant’s motion to decertify the classes. 5 Dkt. Nos. 193, 195. Thus, these documents are unrelated to the public’s understanding of the 6 judicial proceedings in this case, and the public’s interest in disclosure of these documents is 7 minimal given that the Court will not rule on Defendant’s motion to decertify the classes. See In 8 re iPhone Application Litig., No. 11-MD-02250-LHK, 2013 WL 12335013, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 9 25, 2013) (“The public’s interest in accessing these documents is even further diminished in light of the fact that the Court will not have occasion to rule on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Class 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Certification.”). Accordingly, because the documents divulge confidential business and financial 12 information unrelated to the public’s understanding of the judicial proceedings in this action, the 13 Court finds that there is compelling reason to file the documents under seal. See Economus v. City 14 & Cty. of San Francisco, No. 18-CV-01071-HSG, 2019 WL 1483804, at *9 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 15 2019) (finding compelling reason to seal because the sealing request divulges sensitive 16 information no longer related to the case); In re iPhone, 2013 WL 12335013 (same); Doe 17 v. City of San Diego, No. 12-CV-689-MMA-DHB, 2014 WL 1921742, at *4 (S.D. Cal. May 14, 18 2014) (exhibit’s disclosure of personal information and irrelevance to the matter are compelling 19 reasons to seal the exhibit). 20 III. 21 CONCLUSION The Court GRANTS Defendant’s administrative motion to file under seal. Pursuant to 22 Civil Local Rule 79-5(f)(1), documents filed under seal as to which the administrative motion is 23 granted will remain under seal. 24 25 26 27 28 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 2/20/2020 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 3

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