M.W. et al v. Ford Motor Company et al
ORDER denying 91 Motion to Seal. Signed by Judge Susan C Bucklew on 9/29/2015. Plaintiffs shall file their response in opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company's motion to strike portions of plaintiffs' second amended complaint (Dkt. 88) by September 30, 2015. (KTW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
M.W., ANASTAZIA J. WOOD, JUSTIN
WOOD and SUZANNE MCCARTHY,
Case No: 8:14-cv-3132-T-24TBM
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, CRAIG R.
WOLFF, LASER SPINE INSTITUTE, LLC
and LASER SPINE SURGICAL CENTER,
This cause comes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ Motion to Seal (Dkt. 91). Plaintiffs seek
to file under seal their opposition to Defendant Ford Motor Company’s motion to strike portions
of Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint (Dkt. 88). Plaintiffs indicate that Defendant does not
oppose the motion to seal.
MOTION TO SEAL
Plaintiffs move the Court for permission to file under seal their opposition to Defendant’s
motion to strike portions of Plaintiffs’ second amended complaint, (Dkt. 88), because it contains
quotes from deposition testimony that Plaintiffs expect Defendant Ford Motor Company (“Ford”)
to designate as confidential pursuant to the parties’ stipulated protective order.
Local Rule 1.09(a) provides that a party seeking to file under seal any document shall file
a motion that includes the following:(i) an identification and description of each item proposed for
sealing; (ii) the reason that filing each item is necessary; (iii) the reason that sealing each item is
necessary; (iv) the reason that a means other than sealing is unavailable or unsatisfactory to
preserve the interest advanced by the movant in support of the seal; (v) a statement of the proposed
duration of the seal; and (vi) a memorandum of legal authority supporting the seal. M.D. Fla.,
Local R. 1.09(a). The relevant rule also states: “Unless otherwise ordered by the Court for good
cause shown, no order sealing any item pursuant to this section shall extend beyond one year,
although a seal is renewable by a motion that complies with (b) of this rule, identifies the expiration
of the seal, and is filed before the expiration of the seal.” M.D. Fla., Local R. 1.09(c)
The right of access to judicial records pursuant to the common law is well established. As
the Eleventh Circuit has noted, “The operation of the courts and the judicial conduct of judges are
matters of utmost public concern and the common-law right of access to judicial proceedings, an
essential component of our system of justice, is instrumental in securing the integrity of the
process.” Romero v. Drummond Co., 480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir.2007) (internal citations
omitted). The court further explained, “This right of access includes the right to inspect and copy
public records and documents. This right of access is not absolute, however [and] may be
overcome by a showing of good cause.” Id. In balancing these interests to determine whether
documents should be placed under seal, courts consider:
whether allowing access would impair court functions or harm legitimate privacy
interests, the degree of and likelihood of injury if made public, the reliability of the
information, whether there will be an opportunity to respond to the information,
whether the information concerns public officials of public concerns, and the
availability of a less onerous alternative to sealing the documents.
Here, Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient information to satisfy Local Rule 1.09.
Plaintiffs have not explained why the inclusion of certain quotes from deposition transcripts in
their opposition to Defendant’s motion to strike are necessary or relevant, nor why they should be
filed under seal. In fact, Plaintiffs “take no position on the privacy interests which may be asserted
by the Defendant or the likelihood of injury to Defendant if the information is made public.” (Dkt.
91 at 3). Instead, Plaintiffs merely assert that deposition testimony quotes contained in their
opposition “may be marked ‘Confidential’” by Defendant pursuant to the parties stipulated sharing
and non-sharing protective order, and that filing the opposition is “necessary to demonstrate why
Ford’s motion to strike should be denied.” (Dkt. 91 at 2˗3) (emphasis added).
Plaintiffs’ conclusory assertion that the documents are subject to a protective order is
insufficient to justify shielding these proceedings from the public. Moreover, Plaintiffs fail to show
that the proposed duration of the seal will not extend beyond one year as required by Local Rule
1.09(c). In addition to failing to meet the requirements of the Local Rules, Plaintiffs have not
shown good cause to override the public’s common law right of access to court documents.
Therefore, the motion to seal must be denied. Accordingly, it is ORDERED AND ADJUDGED
that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Seal (Dkt. 91) is DENIED. Plaintiffs shall file their opposition to
Defendant Ford Motor Company’s motion to strike portions of plaintiffs’ second amended
complaint (Dkt. 88) by September 30, 2015.
DONE AND ORDERED at Tampa, Florida, this 29th day of September, 2015.
Copies To: Counsel of Record and Parties
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