Plexxikon Inc. v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Filing 438

ORDER by Judge Haywood S. Gilliam, Jr. DENYING ( 344 , 390 )MOTIONS TO SEAL. (ndrS, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/30/2020)

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Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 1 of 7 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 PLEXXIKON INC., Plaintiff, 8 v. 9 10 11 Case No. 17-cv-04405-HSG ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO SEAL Re: Dkt. Nos. 344, 390 NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION, United States District Court Northern District of California Defendant. 12 13 Pending before the Court are Defendant Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s 14 administrative motions to file under seal portions of documents in connection with its request to 15 file a second motion for summary judgment as well as its objections to the Special Master’s 16 recommendation regarding Plaintiff Plexxikon Inc.’s motion in limine. See Dkt. Nos. 344, 390. 17 For the reasons detailed below, the Court DENIES the motions to file under seal. 18 19 I. LEGAL STANDARD Courts generally apply a “compelling reasons” standard when considering motions to seal 20 documents. Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass’n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Kamakana 21 v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). “This standard derives from the 22 common law right ‘to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records 23 and documents.’” Id. (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178). “[A] strong presumption in favor of 24 access is the starting point.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178 (quotations omitted). To overcome this 25 strong presumption, the party seeking to seal a judicial record attached to a dispositive motion 26 must “articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the 27 general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public interest in 28 understanding the judicial process” and “significant public events.” Id. at 1178–79 (quotations Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 2 of 7 1 omitted). “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in 2 disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might have become a 3 vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public 4 scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade secrets.” Id. at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. 5 Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). “The mere fact that the production of records 6 may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, 7 without more, compel the court to seal its records.” Id. Civil Local Rule 79-5 supplements the “compelling reasons” standard. The party seeking 8 to file under seal must submit “a request that establishes that the document, or portions thereof, are 10 privileged, protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under the law . . . . The 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 9 request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material . . . .” Civil L.R. 79- 12 5(b). Courts have found that “confidential business information” in the form of “license 13 agreements, financial terms, details of confidential licensing negotiations, and business strategies” 14 satisfies the “compelling reasons” standard. See In re Qualcomm Litig., No. 3:17-cv-0108-GPC- 15 MDD, 2017 WL 5176922, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Nov. 8, 2017) (observing that sealing such information 16 “prevent[ed] competitors from gaining insight into the parties’ business model and strategy”); 17 Finisar Corp. v. Nistica, Inc., No. 13-cv-03345-BLF (JSC), 2015 WL 3988132, at *5 (N.D. Cal. 18 June 30, 2015). Records attached to nondispositive motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of 19 20 Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as such records “are often unrelated, or only 21 tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.” Id. at 1179–80 (quotations omitted). This 22 requires a “particularized showing” that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information 23 is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1210–11 (9th 24 Cir. 2002); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). “Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by specific 25 examples of articulated reasoning” will not suffice. Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int’l Ins. Co., 966 26 F.2d 470, 476 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted). 27 // 28 // 2 Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 3 of 7 II. 1 DISCUSSION 2 The Court applies the lower good cause standard for those documents related to 3 Defendant’s request to file a second motion for summary judgment1 and the parties’ motions in 4 limine. As indicated in the table below, the only proffered justification for sealing many of the 6 documents is that the information was designated as “highly confidential” by either Plaintiff or 7 Defendant. But a designation of confidentiality is not sufficient to establish that a document is 8 sealable. See Civ. L. R. 79-5(d)(1)(A). “Confidential” is merely the parties’ initial designation of 9 confidentiality to establish coverage under the stipulated protective order. See Verinata Health, 10 Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., No. 12-cv-05501-SI, 2015 WL 5117083, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 31, 2015) (“But good cause ‘cannot be established simply by showing that the document is subject 12 to a protective order or by stating in general terms that the material is considered to be 13 confidential’”) (quoting Bain v. AstraZeneca LP, No. 09-cv-4147, 2011 WL 482767, at *1 (N.D. 14 Cal. Feb. 7, 2011)). Thus, many of the parties’ motions do not comply with Civil Local Rule 79- 15 5(d)(1)(A). In addition, in many instances the designating party for the materials did not comply 16 with Civil Local Rule 79-5(e)(1), because they did not file a declaration within four days of the 17 motion. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1). The Court finds that sealing is not warranted as to those 18 documents. As to the others, Defendant offers nothing more than a conclusory explanation that the 19 20 documents contain either “highly confidential deposition testimony” or “highly confidential 21 information of Novartis.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This is insufficient. Critically, Defendant provides 22 no explanation why this information is “highly confidential.” Thus, the Court finds that 23 Defendant has not established good cause to grant the motion to file under seal. 24 // 25 // 26 27 28 The Court further notes that it did not rely the documents that are the subject of Defendant’s second motion for summary judgment because the Court ultimately denied Defendant’s request to file this motion. See Dkt. No. 361. 3 1 Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 4 of 7 1 2 3 4 Docket No. Public /(Sealed) Dkt. No. 345-2/ (344-4) 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Dkt. No. 345-7/ (344-5) 12 13 14 Dkt. No. 345-8/ (344-6) 15 16 17 18 Dkt. No. 345-10/ (344-7) 19 20 21 Dkt. No. 345-11/ (344-8) 22 23 24 25 Dkt. No. 345-13/ (344-9) 26 27 28 Dkt. No. 345-14/ Document Portion(s) Sought to be Sealed Dkt. No. 344 – DENIED Defendant’s Notice of p. 7, ll. 19–28 Motion and Second p. 8, ll. 1–3, 18–26 Motion for Summary p. 10, ll. 14–27 Judgment p. 11, ll. 1–11, 13–23, 25– 27 p. 12, ll. 2–14, 16–28 p. 13, ll. 1–17, 18–27 p. 14, ll. 1–6, 9–14, 17–27 p. 15, ll. 2–4, 12–16\ p. 19, ll. 26–28 p. 21, ll. 22–26 p. 22, ll. 1–2, 5–8 Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit C Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit D Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit F Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit G Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit I Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document 4 Ruling DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 5 of 7 1 (344-10) 2 3 4 Dkt. No. 345-15/ (344-11) 5 6 7 8 Dkt. No. 345-16/ (344-12) 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 Dkt. No. 389-8 / (390-3) 13 14 15 16 Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit J Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit K Declaration of Thomas P. Entire Document Steindler In Support of Defendant’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment, Exhibit L Dkt. No. 390 – DENIED Declaration of Thomas P. Entire document Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-4 17 18 19 Dkt. No. 389-14 / (390-4) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-10 Entire document Dkt. No. 389-15 / (390-5) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Entire document 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (No supporting declaration filed. See Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1).) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential deposition testimony.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential deposition testimony.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 6 of 7 Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-11 1 2 3 4 5 Dkt. No. 389-16 / (390-6) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-12 Entire document Dkt. No. 389-17 / (390-7) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-13 Entire document Dkt. No. 389-18 / (390-8) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-14 Entire document Dkt. No. 389-19 / (390-9) Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Entire document 6 7 8 9 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 6 information of Novartis.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential information of Novartis.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential information of Novartis.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential deposition testimony.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential Case 4:17-cv-04405-HSG Document 438 Filed 11/30/20 Page 7 of 7 Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-15 1 2 3 4 5 Dkt. No. 389-20 / (390-10) 6 7 8 9 Declaration of Thomas P. Steindler in Support of Defendant Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation’s Objections To The Special Master’s Report And Recommendation, Ex. C-16 Entire document 10 deposition testimony.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) DENIED (Defendant states, in conclusory fashion, that the document “contains highly confidential deposition testimony.” See Dkt. No. 390-1. This generic explanation is insufficient to establish good cause.) United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 III. CONCLUSION The Court DENIES the administrative motions to file under seal. The Court DIRECTS 14 the parties to file public versions of all documents for which the proposed sealing has been denied, 15 as indicated in the chart above, within seven days from the date of this order. 16 17 18 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 11/30/2020 ______________________________________ HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 7

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