Gallegos v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America

Filing 41

ORDER GRANTING 39 MOTION TO SEAL. Signed by Judge Beth Labson Freeman on 4/3/2017. (blflc4, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 4/3/2017)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 5 SAN JOSE DIVISION 6 7 LISA GALLEGOS, 8 Plaintiff, 11 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SEAL v. 9 10 Case No. 16-cv-01268-BLF THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, United States District Court Northern District of California Defendant. 12 Before the Court is the parties’ joint administrative motion to file under seal administrative 13 14 record of Plaintiff Lisa Gallegos. ECF 39. For the reasons stated below, the motion is 15 GRANTED. 16 17 I. LEGAL STANDARD There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” to judicial records. Kamakana v. City & 18 Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. 19 Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). A party seeking to seal judicial records bears the 20 burden of overcoming this presumption by articulating “compelling reasons supported by specific 21 factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 22 disclosure.” Id. at 1178-79. Compelling reasons for sealing court files generally exist when such 23 “‘court files might have become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to 24 gratify private spite, promote public scandal, circulate libelous statements, or release trade 25 secrets.” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). However, 26 “[t]he mere fact that the production of records may lead to a litigant’s embarrassment, 27 incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal its 28 records.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. Ultimately, “[w]hat constitutes a ‘compelling reason’ is 1 ‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial court.’” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrslyer Grp., LLC, 2 809 F.3d 1092, 1097 (9th Cir. 2016). “Despite this strong preference for public access, [the Ninth Circuit has] carved out an 3 4 exception,” id. at 1097, for judicial records attached to motions that are “tangentially related to the 5 merits of a case,” id. at 1101. Parties moving to seal such records need only make a 6 “particularized showing” under the “good cause” standard of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7 26(c). Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180 (quoting Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1138). 8 9 In this District, parties seeking to seal judicial records must furthermore follow Civil Local Rule 79-5, which requires, inter alia, that a sealing request be “narrowly tailored to seek sealing only of sealable material.” Civil L.R. 79-5(b) (emphasis added). Where the submitting party 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 seeks to file under seal a document designated confidential by another party, the burden of 12 articulating compelling reasons for sealing is placed on the designating party. Id. 79-5(e). 13 14 II. DISCUSSION The Court has reviewed the parties’ sealing motion and the declaration of Sevana 15 Babooian in support thereof. According to the declaration, the entire administrative record should 16 be sealed because the majority of the documents therein contain Plaintiff’s confidential medical 17 and financial information. Babboian Decl., ECF 39-1 ¶¶ 4-5. Given the size of the administrative 18 record and the amount of personal information contained therein, the parties argue that redacting 19 such information would be inefficient, impractical, and would place an undue burden on the 20 parties. Id. ¶ 6. 21 The Court finds that the “compelling” standard applies, as the administrative record is 22 related to the merits of a case. Because the majority of documents in the administrative record 23 contain Plaintiff’s confidential personal information, they are appropriately sealable. E.g., Doe v. 24 UNUM Life Ins. Co. of Am., 164 F. Supp. 3d 1140, 1147 (N.D. Cal. 2016) (ordering the 25 administrative record to be filed under seal); Doe v. PricewaterhouseCoopers Health & Welfare 26 Benefit Plan, No. 13-02710-JSW, 2014 WL 2737840, at *1 n.1 (N.D. Cal. June 11, 2014) (same). 27 28 2 1 III. ORDER For the foregoing reasons, the sealing motion at ECF 39 is GRANTED. 2 3 4 Dated: April 3, 2017 5 6 7 ______________________________________ BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge 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 3

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