Plexxikon Inc. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Filing 154

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. GRANTING 89 ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL.(ndrS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/22/2019)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PLEXXIKON INC., Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 11 NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION, Case No. 17-cv-04405-HSG ORDER GRANTING ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL Re: Dkt. No. 89 United States District Court Northern District of California Defendant. 12 Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Plexxikon Inc.’s administrative motion to file under 13 14 seal Exhibits 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 to the Declaration of Laura E. Miller in support of its 15 motion for leave to amend the complaint. See Dkt. No. 89. Plexxikon took “no position as to the 16 confidentiality” of these exhibits but instead sought “sealing solely to remain in compliance with 17 the Protective Order.” Id. at 1. In accordance with Civil Local Rule 79-5(e)(1), non-parties 18 GlaxoSmithKline PLC and GlaxoSmithKline LLC (collectively, “GSK”) filed a declaration in 19 support of the motion to seal. See Dkt. No. 91. Ultimately, Plexxikon withdrew its motion for 20 leave to amend the complaint after entering a stipulation with GSK. See Dkt. No. 93. 21 22 I. LEGAL STANDARD Courts generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard when considering motions to seal 23 documents. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kamakana 24 v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “This standard derives from 25 the common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial 26 records and documents.’” Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). “[A] strong presumption in 27 favor of access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 (quotation omitted). To 28 overcome this strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial record attached to a 1 dispositive motion must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that 2 outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the 3 public interest in understanding the judicial process” and “significant public events.” Id. at 1178– 4 79 (quotation omitted). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s 5 interest in disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might have 6 become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify private spite, 7 promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 8 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). “The mere fact that the 9 production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 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 12 keep certain judicial records secret. After considering these interests, if the court decides to seal 13 certain judicial records, it must base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual 14 basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5 15 supplements the compelling reasons standard set forth in Kamakana: the party seeking to file a 16 document or portions of it under seal must “establish[] that the document, or portions thereof, are 17 privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law . . . The 18 request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b). 19 Records attached to nondispositive motions, however, are not subject to the strong 20 presumption of access. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Because such records “are often 21 unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action,” parties moving to seal 22 must meet the lower “good cause” standard of Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 23 Id. at 1179–80 (quotation omitted). This requires only a “particularized showing” that “specific 24 prejudice or harm will result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. 25 Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). 26 “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples of articulated reasoning” will 27 not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation 28 omitted). 2 1 II. DISCUSSION Because the documents sought to be sealed were attached to a nondispositive motion for 2 leave to amend the complaint, which was later withdrawn, the Court will apply the lower good 3 cause standard rather than the compelling reason standard. 4 GSK has demonstrated good cause to seal Exhibits 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 in their 5 entirety. Each of these exhibits contains confidential business, scientific, or manufacturing 6 7 information regarding GSK’s development of pharmaceutical products. See Dkt. No. 91 ¶¶ 4–11. The public release of these documents could give non-party GSK’s competitors an unfair 8 advantage in the development or marketing of rival products. See In re Elec. Arts, Inc., 298 F. 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 App’x 568, 569 (9th Cir. 2008) (ordering sealing where documents could be used “‘as sources of business information that might harm a litigant’s competitive standing’”) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). Therefore, sealing is appropriate. 12 13 III. CONCLUSION Good cause exists to seal Exhibits 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 to the Declaration of Laura 14 E. Miller in support of Plexxikon’s motion for leave to amend the complaint. The Court 15 GRANTS the motion to seal in its entirety. This order terminates Dkt. No. 89. 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 19 20 Dated: 3/22/2019 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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