Goode v. ELC Beauty LLC et al

Filing 15

ORDER Granting Parties' 14 Joint Motion to Seal. It is ordered that the Court grants the parties joint motion to seal Exhibit G to the notice of removal, (Doc. No. 1-8), under seal. Signed by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on 5/26/2017. (dxj) (sjt).

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1 2 3 4 5 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 8 9 ANDREA GOODE, an Individual, Case No.: 17-CV-0716-AJB-AGS Plaintiff, v. ORDER GRANTING PARTIES’ JOINT MOTION TO SEAL ELC BEAUTY LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company; DOES 1 through 20, Inclusive, (Doc. No. 14) 10 11 12 13 Defendants. 14 15 Presently before the Court is the parties’ joint motion to seal an attachment to 16 Defendant’s notice of removal. (Doc. No. 14.) Having reviewed the parties’ arguments in 17 light of controlling authority, and pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.1.d.1, the Court finds the 18 matter suitable for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the 19 Court GRANTS the parties’ motion. 20 BACKGROUND 21 This dispute arises from Plaintiff’s employment with Defendant. She brings several 22 causes of action under California state law. Plaintiff instituted this lawsuit in San Diego 23 Superior Court, but Defendant removed the action to this Court when Plaintiff’s settlement 24 demand indicated the amount in controversy exceeded the jurisdictional minimum. 25 Defendant attached the settlement demand to its notice of removal as Exhibit G. The parties 26 now jointly move to have Exhibit G sealed. 27 28 LEGAL STANDARD Courts have historically recognized a “general right to inspect and copy public 1 17-CV-0716-AJB-AGS 1 records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” Nixon v. Warner 2 Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 & n.7 (1978). “Unless a particular court record is one 3 ‘traditionally kept secret,’ a ‘strong presumption in favor of access’ is the starting point.” 4 Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Foltz 5 v. State Farm. Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). In order to 6 overcome this strong presumption, a party seeking to seal a judicial record must articulate 7 justifications for sealing that outweigh the public policies favoring disclosure. See id. at 8 1178–79. In turn, the court must “‘conscientiously balance[] the competing interests’ of 9 the public and the party who seeks to keep certain judicial records secret.” Id. at 1179 10 (quoting Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135). After considering these interests, if the court decides to 11 seal certain judicial records, it must “base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate 12 the factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.” Id. (quoting 13 Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)). 14 However, where the material is, at most, “tangentially related to the merits of [the] 15 case,” the request to seal may be granted on a showing of “good cause.” Ctr. for Auto Safety 16 v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir. 2016). Furthermore, because the 17 “good cause” standard derives from Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 18 application of the “strong presumption of access to documents a court has already decided 19 should be shielded from the public” is similarly inappropriate as it “would surely 20 undermine, and possibly eviscerate, the broad power of the district court to fashion 21 protective orders . . . .” Id. at 1097 (quoting Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors 22 Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213 (9th Cir. 2002)). “Even under the ‘good cause’ standard of 23 Rule 26(c), however, a party must make a ‘particularized showing’ with respect to any 24 individual document in order to justify sealing the relevant document.” Dugan v. Lloyds 25 TSB Bank, PLC, No. 12-CV-02549-WHA (NJV), 2013 WL 1435223, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 26 9, 2013) (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180). 27 28 DISCUSSION The parties seek to seal Exhibit G attached to the notice of removal, which contains 2 17-CV-0716-AJB-AGS 1 a settlement demand. (Doc. No. 14 at 3.) The parties assert good cause exists to seal because 2 it would promote the strong public policy of confidential settlement discussions and 3 resolution of disputes outside the judicial process, and because harm to the parties 4 outweighs the public’s right of access. (Id. at 3–5.) The Court agrees. 5 Although “public access to filed motions and their attachments does not depend on 6 whether the motion is ‘dispositive,’” whether a motion is dispositive or nondispositive is 7 relevant in determining which standard governs the Court’s inquiry. See Ctr. for Auto 8 Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101. The Court finds this factor favors finding the good cause standard 9 applies because removal of an action to federal court does not adjudicate the parties’ 10 substantive rights. Id. at 1098 (noting dispositive motions are those that “adjudicate[] 11 substantive rights”). The Court further finds that Exhibit G is “tangentially related” to the 12 merits of the underlying case given that its contents affect only the Court’s jurisdiction. 13 The Court therefore finds that Rule 26(c)’s “good cause” standard governs here. 14 Having reviewed Exhibit G, the Court finds the parties have satisfied the good cause 15 standard because the document contains Plaintiff’s settlement demand. As the Ninth 16 Circuit has recognized, “courts have granted protective orders to protect confidential 17 settlement agreements.” Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 18 1206, 1212 (9th Cir. 2002). The Court further finds that the proposed redaction is “narrowly 19 tailored” to seal only sealable material. CONCLUSION 20 21 Based on the foregoing, the Court GRANTS the parties’ joint motion to seal. (Doc. 22 No. 14.) The Clerk of Court is INSTRUCTED to file Exhibit G to the notice of removal, 23 (Doc. No. 1-8), under seal. 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 Dated: May 26, 2017 27 28 3 17-CV-0716-AJB-AGS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 17-CV-0716-AJB-AGS

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