Robert Heath v. Google Inc.

Filing 152

ORDER GRANTING 150 PLAINTIFF'S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL. Signed by Judge Beth Labson Freeman on 4/18/2017. (blflc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/18/2017)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 SAN JOSE DIVISION 6 7 ROBERT HEATH, ET AL., Plaintiffs, 8 GOOGLE INC., [Re: ECF 150] Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S ADMINISTRATIVE MOTION TO SEAL v. 9 10 Case No. 15-cv-01824-BLF 12 Before the Court is Plaintiff Cheryl Fillekes’ administrative motion to file under seal the 13 14 opt-in plaintiff’s Consent to Join Forms. Mot., ECF 150. For the reasons stated below, the motion 15 is GRANTED. 16 17 I. LEGAL STANDARD “Historically, courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy public records 18 and documents, including judicial records and documents.’” Kamakana v. City & Cty. of 19 Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 20 U.S. 589, 597 & n. 7 (1978)). Accordingly, when considering a sealing request, “a ‘strong 21 presumption in favor of access’ is the starting point.” Id. (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 22 Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). Parties seeking to seal judicial records relating to 23 motions that are “more than tangentially related to the underlying cause of action” bear the burden 24 of overcoming the presumption with “compelling reasons” that outweigh the general history of 25 access and the public policies favoring disclosure. Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., 809 F.3d 26 1092, 1099 (9th Cir. 2016); Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178–79. 27 However, “while protecting the public’s interest in access to the courts, we must remain 28 mindful of the parties’ right to access those same courts upon terms which will not unduly harm 1 their competitive interest.” Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., 727 F.3d 1214, 1228–29 (Fed. 2 Cir. 2013). Records attached to motions that are “not related, or only tangentially related, to the 3 merits of a case” therefore are not subject to the strong presumption of access. Ctr. for Auto 4 Safety, 809 F.3d at 1099; see also Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (“[T]he public has less of a need 5 for access to court records attached only to non-dispositive motions because those documents are 6 often unrelated, or only tangentially related, to the underlying cause of action.”). Parties moving 7 to seal the documents attached to such motions must meet the lower “good cause” standard of 8 Rule 26(c). Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (internal quotations and citations omitted). This 9 standard requires a “particularized showing,” id., that “specific prejudice or harm will result” if the information is disclosed. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 1210–11 (9th Cir. 2002); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c). 12 In addition to making particularized showings of good cause, parties moving to seal 13 documents must comply with the procedures established by Civ. L.R. 79-5. Pursuant to Civ. L.R. 14 79-5(b), a sealing order is appropriate only upon a request that establishes the document is 15 “sealable,” or “privileged or protectable as a trade secret or otherwise entitled to protection under 16 the law.” “The request must be narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material, and 17 must conform with Civil L.R. 79-5(d).” Civ. L.R. 79-5(b). In part, Civ. L.R. 79-5(d) requires the 18 submitting party to attach a “proposed order that is narrowly tailored to seal only the sealable 19 material” which “lists in table format each document or portion thereof that is sought to be 20 sealed,” Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(b), and an “unredacted version of the document” that indicates “by 21 highlighting or other clear method, the portions of the document that have been omitted from the 22 redacted version.” Civ. L.R. 79-5(d)(1)(d). “Within 4 days of the filing of the Administrative 23 Motion to File Under Seal, the Designating Party must file a declaration as required by subsection 24 79-5(d)(1)(A) establishing that all of the designated material is sealable.” Civ. L.R. 79-5(e)(1). 25 26 II. DISCUSSION Here, Fillekes seeks to file the putative class members’ opt-in consent forms under seal. 27 These consent forms contain personal information concerning Google’s applicants, including 28 individuals’ names, dates of birth, home addresses, and contact information. Mot. 2; Kotchen 2 1 2 Decl. ¶ 2, ECF 150-1. The standard under which this sealing motion is resolved is irrelevant, as the Ninth Circuit 3 has found that compelling reasons exist to protect an individual’s privacy interest and to prevent 4 exposure to or harm or identity theft. Nursing Home Pension Fund v. Oracle Corp., C01-00988, 5 2007 WL 3232267, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2007) (citing Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1134). Accordingly, 6 the Court finds the protection of the putative class members’ private information to constitute both 7 good cause and a compelling reason to seal, and thus GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to seal. 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 Dated: April 18, 2017 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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