National Sourcing, Inc. et al v. Bracciale et al
ORDER granting 31 Defendants' Motion to Seal Exhibit E to Defendants' Response in Opposition to Verified Motion by Plaintiff, National Sourcing, Inc., to Disqualify Counsel for Defendants, Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Defendants are dir ected to submit to the Clerk, and the Clerk is directed to accept under seal, Exhibit E to Defendants' Response in Opposition to Verified Motion by Plaintiff, National Sourcing, Inc., to Disqualify Counsel for Defendants, Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Signed by Magistrate Judge Julie S. Sneed on 11/30/2017. (LBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
NATIONAL SOURCING, INC. and
PEDRO L. VALDEZ,
Case No: 8:17-cv-1950-T-36JSS
STEPHEN R. BRACCIALE, ANGELUS
TAM, TEK SOURCE USA, INC. and
SAINT ANTON CAPITAL, LLC,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Seal Exhibit E to
Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Verified Motion by Plaintiff, National Sourcing, Inc., to
Disqualify Counsel for Defendants, Greenberg Traurig, LLP (“Motion”). (Dkt. 31.) Plaintiffs
have not filed a response to the Motion, and their time for doing so has elapsed. See M.D. Fla.
Local R. 3.01(b). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.
In the Motion, Defendants seek to seal an exhibit (Dkt. 28, Ex. E), they attach to their
response opposing the Verified Motion to Disqualify Counsel for Defendants, Greenberg Traurig,
LLP (“Disqualification Motion”), filed by Plaintiff National Sourcing, Inc. (“NSI”) (Dkt. 25). In
the Disqualification Motion, NSI contends that Defendants’ counsel, attorneys at the law firm of
Greenberg Traurig, should be disqualified from representing Defendants in this action because
Greenberg Traurig has represented NSI “over a course of years generally, and specifically in
connection with the Promissory Note, Security Agreement, Stock Pledge, and Shareholder
Agreement at issue” in this case. (Id. ¶ 2.) To rebut NSI’s argument, Defendants contend that
Greenberg Traurig was retained by Defendants Stephen Bracciale and Angelus Tam beginning in
2010 and attach a June 2010 memorandum written by former Greenberg Traurig attorney William
Dunker to demonstrate the scope of Greenberg Traurig’s representation of Mr. Bracciale and Ms.
Tam. (Dkt. 28 ¶¶ 5–11; Dkt. 31 ¶ 3; Dkt. 28, Ex. E.) This memorandum, Defendants argue, “will
help the Court understand what the Defendants and [Greenberg Traurig] believed was necessary
to assist defendants with their legal concerns,” and should be sealed because it constitutes
information protected by the work product doctrine and attorney client privilege. (Dkt. 31.)
Defendants ask for the memorandum to be sealed until final resolution of NSI’s Disqualification
Motion and to be expunged from the record thereafter. (Id.)
Under Local Rule 1.09, a party seeking to file any paper or other matter under seal must:
(1) identify and describe each item proposed for sealing; (2) state the reason that filing each item
is necessary; (3) state the reason that sealing each item is necessary; (4) state 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; (5) state the proposed duration of the seal; and (6) provide a
memorandum of legal authority supporting the seal. M.D. Fla. Local R. 1.09(a). No order sealing
any item shall extend beyond one year, but a seal may be renewed upon filing a proper motion.
Id. at 1.09(c).
Because “[t]he operations 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).
However, “[t]his right of access is not absolute” and “may be overcome by a showing of good
cause,” taking into consideration the public interest in accessing court documents and the party’s
interest in keeping the information confidential. Id. at 1245–46. “A party’s privacy or proprietary
interest in information sometimes overcomes the interest of the public in accessing the
information.” Id. at 1246. Courts consider the following factors in balancing the public’s interest
against a movant’s interest:
[W]hether 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 or public concerns, and the
availability of a less onerous alternative to sealing the documents.
Upon consideration, the Court finds that Defendants have met the requirements of Local
Rule 1.09 and have shown good cause as to why the exhibit containing an attorney’s memorandum
(Dkt. 28, Ex. E), should be filed under seal. Specifically, the exhibit is described in the Motion,
Defendants have adequately explained the reason for filing it under seal, and the exhibit will aid
the Court’s determination of the pending Disqualification Motion. After an in camera review of
the exhibit, the memorandum does not involve public officials or public concerns. Further,
because the memorandum discusses and memorializes information Mr. Dunker learned through
conferences with Mr. Bracciale and Ms. Tam, the Court concludes that the memorandum warrants
protection from public dissemination. See Swidler & Berlin v. United States, 524 U.S. 399, 401
(1998) (holding that an attorney’s “notes of an initial interview with a client . . . are protected by
the attorney-client privilege”).
Therefore, the public’s interest in having access to this exhibit is outweighed by Mr.
Bracciale’s and Ms. Tam’s interest in keeping it confidential. See Souffrant v. Toyota Motor Sales,
U.S.A., Inc., No. 17-23357-CIV, 2017 WL 5494988, at *4–5 (S.D. Fla. Nov. 16, 2017) (sealing an
exhibit to the complaint containing attorney-client privileged communications and confidential
work product because the exhibit “reflect[s] advice from [ ] lawyers” and there was no compelling
interest in public access to the documents in the exhibit); Valdes v. Miami-Dade Cty., No. 12-3-
22426-CIV, 2015 WL 789712, at *2, n.2 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 24, 2015) (sealing letters signed by clients
acknowledging representation and conflicts that were reviewed by the court during the course of
a hearing on a motion to disqualify counsel); U.S. ex rel. Baklid-Kunz v. Halifax Hosp. Med. Ctr.,
No. 6:09-CV-1002-ORL-31, 2013 WL 1233699, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 27, 2013) (sealing excerpts
of deposition testimony containing attorney-client privileged information, reasoning that the
party’s interest in preserving the attorney-client privilege and the court’s interest in evaluating the
depositions to determine whether portions should be stricken “outweigh the public’s right of access
and establish good cause”). Accordingly, it is
1. Defendants’ Motion to Seal Exhibit E to Defendants’ Response in Opposition to
Verified Motion by Plaintiff, National Sourcing, Inc., to Disqualify Counsel for
Defendants, Greenberg Traurig, LLP (Dkt. 31) is GRANTED.
2. Defendants are directed to submit to the Clerk, and the Clerk is directed to accept
under seal, Exhibit E to Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Verified Motion by
Plaintiff, National Sourcing, Inc., to Disqualify Counsel for Defendants, Greenberg
3. Exhibit E shall remain under seal for a period not to exceed one (1) year. See M.D.
Fla. Local R. 1.09(c).
DONE and ORDERED in Tampa, Florida, on November 30, 2017.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel of Record
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