Free Range Content, Inc. v. Google Inc.

Filing 248

ORDER GRANTING 244 PLAINTIFFS' ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO FILE UNDER SEAL. Signed by Judge Beth Labson Freeman on 3/7/2018. (blflc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/7/2018)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 SAN JOSE DIVISION 7 8 FREE RANGE CONTENT, INC., ET AL., Plaintiffs, 9 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL v. 10 11 Case No. 14-cv-02329-BLF GOOGLE, LLC, [Re: ECF 244] Defendant. 12 13 Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ administrative motion to file under seal an Exhibit attached 14 15 to Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of settlement. ECF 244 (“Mot.”). The sealing 16 motion is unopposed. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion to 17 seal Exhibit B to the Declaration of Robert F. Lopez at ECF 246-2. 18 19 I. LEGAL STANDARD Historically, there is a “strong presumption in favor of access” to judicial records. 20 Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. 21 State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). A party seeking to seal 22 judicial records bears the burden of overcoming this presumption by articulating “compelling 23 reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the 24 public policies favoring disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79. Compelling reasons for sealing court files 25 generally exist when such “‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such 26 as the use of records to gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, 27 or release trade secrets.” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 28 (1978)). However, “[t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant’s 1 embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the 2 court to seal its records.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Ultimately, “[w]hat constitutes a 3 ‘compelling reason’ is ‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial court.’” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. 4 Chrslyer Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1097 (9th Cir. 2016). “Despite this strong preference for public access, [the Ninth Circuit has] carved out an 5 6 exception,” id. at 1097, for judicial records attached to motions that are “tangentially related to the 7 merits of a case,” id. at 1101. Parties moving to seal such records need only make a 8 “particularized showing” under the “good cause” standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9 26(c). Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180 (quoting Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1138). In this District, parties seeking to seal judicial records must furthermore follow Civil Local 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Rule 79-5, which requires, inter alia, that a sealing request be “narrowly tailored to seek sealing 12 only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b) (emphasis added). Where the submitting party 13 seeks to file under seal a document designated confidential by another party, the burden of 14 articulating compelling reasons for sealing is placed on the designating party. Id. 79-5(e). 15 II. DISCUSSION The Court has reviewed Plaintiffs’ sealing motion and the declaration of Robert F. Lopez 16 17 in support thereof. See ECF 244, 244-1. Because the sealing motion relates to materials filed with 18 Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement, which is more than 19 tangentially related to the merits of the case, the instant motion is resolved under the compelling 20 reasons standard. Philliben v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 14-CV-05615-JST, 2016 WL 9185000, at *2 21 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 15, 2016); Kiersey v. eBay, Inc., No. 12-CV-01200-JST, 2013 WL 5609318, at *2 22 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 11, 2013) (“[A] motion seeking the Court’s preliminary approval of 23 the settlement of the case may be effectively dispositive.”); See also Johnson v. Quantum 24 Learning Network, Inc., No. 15-CV-05013-LHK, 2016 WL 4472993, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 22, 25 2016). 26 Plaintiffs move to seal Exhibit B to the Declaration of Robert F. Lopez in support of 27 Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary approval of class settlement. See ECF 246-2 (“Exhibit B”). 28 Exhibit B contains confidential settlement information regarding the conditions triggering 2 1 Defendant’s right to terminate and withdraw from the Settlement Agreement. See generally Mot. 2 Plaintiffs are not clear as to which standard applies to their administrative motion, arguing that 3 “Courts frequently find good cause to seal confidential settlement information.” Id. (citing Phillips 4 v. GMC, 307 F.3d 1206, 1212 (9th Cir. 2002)) (emphasis added). However, Plaintiffs also cite to 5 relevant authority from this District where the court found compelling reasons to seal similar 6 confidential information in a settlement agreement to discourage manipulation of the settlement. 7 See Mot. at 1 (citing Thomas v. Magnachip Semiconductor Corp., No. 14-CV-01160-JST, 2016 8 WL 3879193, at *7 (N.D. Cal. July 18, 2016)). In Thomas, Judge Tigar granted the parties’ motion to file under seal the conditions under 9 which the defendant may terminate the settlement, finding that compelling reasons existed to keep 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 the information confidential “in order to prevent third parties from utilizing it for the improper 12 purpose of obstructing the settlement and obtaining higher payouts.” 2016 WL 3879193, at *7 13 (N.D. Cal. July 18, 2016) (citing In re Online DVD-Rental Antitrust Litig., 779 F.3d 934, 948 (9th 14 Cir. 2015)). This Court has reviewed Exhibit B to the Lopez Declaration in this case, and agrees 15 with the reasoning in Thomas that compelling reasons exist to seal this information. The Court 16 also finds that Plaintiffs’ proposed redactions are narrowly tailored. See Civil L.R. 79-5(b) 17 18 III. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs’ motion to seal at ECF 244 is GRANTED. The 19 redacted version of Exhibit B filed into the public record by Plaintiffs in connection with their 20 motion for preliminary approval of settlement (ECF 246-2) is consistent with this order, so no 21 further documents need to be filed. 22 23 24 25 Dated: March 7, 2018 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 26 27 28 3

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