MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Ameriprise Insurance Company
ORDER granting 21 Plaintiff's Motion to Seal. Signed by Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres on 1/8/2018. (js02)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 17-Civ-24033-WILLIAMS/TORRES
MSP RECOVERY CLAIMS, SERIES LLC,
AMERIPRISE INSURANCE COMPANY,
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO SEAL
This matter is before the Court on MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC’s
(“Plaintiff”) motion to file under seal its first amended complaint against Ameriprise
Insurance Company (“Defendant”). [D.E. 21]. Defendant responded to Plaintiff’s
motion on December 29, 2017. [D.E. 29]. Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion is now ripe
After careful consideration of the motion, response, relevant
authority, and for the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff seeks to file under seal its complaint, including (1) the names of
certain Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”) that assigned their claims to
Plaintiff and (2) non-assignment related terms of an assignment agreement. To be
clear, Plaintiff does not wish to withhold any of the aforementioned information
from Defendant. Instead, Plaintiff explains that it will provide the names of all
MAOs – as well as an unreacted version of the assignment agreement – to
Defendant subject to the terms of a confidentiality agreement.
In other words,
Plaintiff requests that the names of the MAOs that assigned their claims to
Plaintiff – as well as the non-assignment related terms of the assignment
agreement – are not to be disclosed to the public at this stage of the litigation.
Plaintiff believes that the names of the MAOs constitutes a customer list and
therefore implicates significant confidential and proprietary business information.
Defendant argues in response that it takes no position with respect to the
first category of information that Plaintiff seeks to protect – the identity of
Plaintiff’s assignors – because it is unclear upon what basis Plaintiff alleges that
the information should be redacted. Defendant further claims that Plaintiff is still
required to establish that specific personal jurisdiction exists in this case and that
Plaintiff must disclose the identities of the Medicare beneficiaries whose medical
expenses undergird this action.
As for the second category of information that
Plaintiff seeks to protect – the non-assignments terms in the assignment
agreements – Defendant does not oppose the relief sought.
“The operations of the courts and the judicial conduct of judges are matters
of utmost public concern,” Landmark Commc’ns, Inc. v. Virginia, 435 U.S. 829, 839
(1978), and “[t]he 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.” Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1311
(11th Cir. 2001). This right “includes the right to inspect and copy public records
and documents.” Id. (citation omitted). However, this right of access is not absolute
because it ordinarily “does not apply to discovery and, where it does apply, may be
overcome by a showing of good cause.” Romero v. Drummond Co., 480 F.3d 1234,
1245 (11th Cir. 2007).
A finding of good cause requires “balanc[ing] the asserted right of access
against the other party’s interest in keeping the information confidential.” Chicago
Tribune, 263 F.3d at 1309. “[W]hether good cause exists . . . is . . . decided by the
nature and character of the information in question.” Id. at 1315. “In balancing the
public interest in accessing court documents against a party’s interest in keeping
the information confidential, courts consider, among other factors, 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 or public concerns, and the availability of a less onerous
alternative to sealing the documents.” Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246.
After full consideration of the arguments presented and the relevant
authority submitted in support thereof, we agree with Plaintiff that the public
disclosures of the MAO assignors may result in unnecessary harm and prejudice to
Plaintiff’s business. As Plaintiff points out, the assignors are part of a customer list
that has taken many years of hard work to assemble. If the assignors became
public, there is a possibility that it would impact Plaintiff’s relationship with each
client and undermine Plaintiff’s efforts to develop new business relationships with
other MAOs. This conclusion is reinforced even more so by the fact that Defendant
will have access to an un-redacted version of the complaint and a complete customer
list through the normal course of discovery.
Therefore, we see no reason why Plaintiff should be forced to release the
assignors of the MAOs to the public domain especially when the parties appear
willing to agree to a confidentiality agreement to safeguard the items produced.
When coupled with the fact that Defendant will have access to the un-redacted
complaint in discovery, there is no persuasive reason to deny Plaintiff’s motion.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED.1
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that
Plaintiff’s motion is GRANTED. [D.E. 21].
DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers at Miami, Florida, this 8th day of
/s/ Edwin G. Torres
EDWIN G. TORRES
United States Magistrate Judge
We add that the result may have been different if a party litigant was
seeking to proceed anonymously. See Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 322 (11th Cir.
1992) (“Generally, parties to a lawsuit must identify themselves in their respective
pleadings.”) (citing Southern Methodist Univ. Ass’n of Women Law Students v.
Wynne & Jaffe, 599 F.2d 707, 712 (5th Cir. 1979)). The issue here is far different
and implicates lesser public interest concerns.
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