Cortina v. Wal-Mart, Inc.

Filing 97

ORDER granting plaintiff's 95 Motion to Seal, granting parties' 94 Joint Motion to Continue Plaintiff's Deadline to Sit for Deposition, granting plaintiff's 71 Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss the Case Without Prejudice. The Court will retain jurisdiction for the purpose of ensuring Plaintiff satisfies the conditions of the dismissal. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 9/20/16. (kas)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 THAMAR SANTISTEBAN CORTINA, on behalf of herself, all others similarly situated, and the general public, 13 14 15 16 17 Case No. 13-cv-02054-BAS-DHB ORDER: (1) GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO SEAL [ECF No. 95]; Plaintiff, v. (2) GRANTING PARTIES’ JOINT MOTION TO CONTINUE PLAINTIFF’S DEADLINE TO SIT FOR DEPOSITION [ECF No. 94]; WAL-MART STORES, INC., and LANG PHARMA NUTRITION, INC., Defendants. (3) GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO VOLUNTARILY DISMISS THE CASE WITHOUT PREJUDICE [ECF No. 71] 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 On September 1, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff Thamar Santisteban 25 Cortina’s motion to voluntarily dismiss this case without prejudice pursuant to two 26 conditions: (1) that Plaintiff agree to use existing discovery from this case in the 27 anticipated state court action, and (2) that Plaintiff sit for her deposition on or before 28 September 22, 2016. (ECF No. 90.) –1– 13cv2054 1 The parties now jointly move to continue Cortina’s deadline to sit for her 2 deposition. (ECF No. 94.) Plaintiff explains that she is amenable, in principle, to the 3 Court’s conditions for non-prejudicial dismissal, but that she is unable to sit for her 4 deposition because of medical reasons. Plaintiff’s counsel has filed a declaration 5 explaining Cortina’s medical situation, and Defendants have consented to 6 continuing the deadline for Cortina’s deposition until she is medically able to sit for 7 it. 8 Plaintiff’s Motion to Seal 9 The Court first addresses Plaintiff’s motion to file under seal a declaration by 10 her counsel (“Fitzgerald Declaration,” ECF No. 96) explaining details of Plaintiff’s 11 medical situation. (ECF No. 95.) In the Ninth Circuit, the legal standard governing 12 public access to motions and documents attached thereto turns on whether the 13 motion at issue is “more than tangentially related to the merits of the case.” Ctr. for 14 Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir. 2016). When the 15 underlying motion is more than tangentially related to the merits, the “compelling 16 reasons” standard applies. Id. at 1096–98. When the underlying motion does not 17 surpass the tangential relevance threshold, the “good cause” standard applies. Id. 18 Here, the Court finds that the joint motion to continue the deadline for Plaintiff’s 19 deposition is not more than tangentially related to the merits, and so the good cause 20 standard applies. Under this standard, a court may grant a motion to seal where the 21 record at issue is one that has been “traditionally kept secret,” Foltz v. State Farm 22 Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003), or contains information 23 that might subject a party to annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, see Ctr. for 24 Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1097. 25 In this case, the Court finds there is good cause to seal the Fitzgerald 26 Declaration. Plaintiff explains that the Declaration contains highly-sensitive 27 personal medical and health information of a type that has been traditionally kept 28 secret. The Court agrees. As Plaintiff explains, laws such as the Health Insurance –2– 13cv2054 1 Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are aimed at protecting individually 2 identifiable health information similar to that contained in the Declaration. See 42 3 U.S.C. §§ 1320d(6); 1320d-6. Moreover, district courts in the Ninth Circuit have 4 frequently concluded that the need to protect medical privacy satisfies not only the 5 good cause standard, but also the more exacting compelling reasons standard. See, 6 e.g., Karpenski v. Am. Gen. Life Co., LLC, No. 2:12–cv–01569RSM, 2013 WL 7 5588312, at * 2 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 9, 2013) (finding compelling reasons to seal 8 court filings that contained copies of plaintiff’s private medical records and 9 deposition testimony making direct reference to information in plaintiff’s medical 10 records); G. v. Hawai’i¸ Civ. No. 08–00551 ACK–BMK 2010 WL 2607483, at * 1– 11 2 (D. Haw. June 25, 2010) (finding compelling reasons test satisfied where filings 12 at issue contained information about plaintiffs’ medical conditions and treatment 13 and disclosed plaintiffs’ identities). Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s 14 motion to file under seal the Fitzgerald Declaration. (ECF No. 95.) 15 Joint Motion to Continue Plaintiff’s Deposition Deadline 16 In light of the seriousness of Plaintiff’s medical situation, and considering 17 Defendants’ consent to Plaintiff’s request, the Court GRANTS the joint motion to 18 continue the deadline for Plaintiff to sit for her deposition. (ECF No. 94.) Cortina is 19 hereby ORDERED to sit for her deposition when she is medically able to do so. 20 In light of the foregoing, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion to 21 voluntarily dismiss this case without prejudice. (ECF No. 71.) The Court will retain 22 jurisdiction for the purpose of ensuring Plaintiff satisfies the conditions of the 23 dismissal. 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 DATED: September 20, 2016 27 28 –3– 13cv2054

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