SMITH et al v. TARGET CORPORATION
ORDER DENYING JOINT MOTION TO FILE STORE VIDEO UNDER SEAL [DE 31]. Signed by Magistrate Judge William Matthewman on 11/18/2021. See attached document for full details. (kza)
Case 9:21-cv-80307-WM Document 32 Entered on FLSD Docket 11/18/2021 Page 1 of 3
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No. 21-80307-Civ-MATTHEWMAN
ROBYN SMITH and
Nov 18, 2021
TARGET CORPORATION and
West Palm Beach
ORDER DENYING JOINT MOTION TO FILE
STORE VIDEO UNDER SEAL [DE 31]
THIS CAUSE is before the Court upon the parties’ Joint Motion to File Store Video
Under Seal (“Motion”). [DE 31]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.
This is a personal injury case arising out of a slip and fall. According to the Motion, the
store video footage at issue depicts the incident and the scene prior to and after the fall occurred.
The Motion states that “[t]he parties have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of video and
since it is electronic media, the parties seek the Court’s permission to file same under seal.” The
Motion states that “[t]he subject video footage is material and relevant to the subject issues of the
case and should be included as part of the Court’s record evidence. The parties intend to
reference portions of the video in their respective Motions for Partial and/or Final Summary
Judgment. Likewise, the video may be included in Plaintiffs’ Response in Opposition.”
On the present record, the Court declines grant the Motion to seal the store video at issue.
At the outset, the parties must understand that the mere designation of the video as “confidential”
does not influence the Court’s decision to seal a court filing. In seeking to file the video under
seal, the movant must show good cause by providing specific reasons that justify sealing, as
Case 9:21-cv-80307-WM Document 32 Entered on FLSD Docket 11/18/2021 Page 2 of 3
opposed to just informing the Court that the parties wish to “maintain the confidentiality of
The Court does not take requests to seal lightly, given that “[u]nless otherwise provided
by law, Court rule or Court order, proceedings in the United States District Court are public and
Court filings are matters of public record.” S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.4(a). It is clearly established that the
general public possesses a common-law right to access judicial records and that judicial records
are presumed to be public documents. See Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597
(1978); see also Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1311 (11th
Cir. 2001). Judicial records are presumed to be public documents because “[o]nce a matter is
brought before a court for resolution, it is no longer solely the parties’ case, but also the public’s
case.” Brown v. Advantage Eng’g, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013, 1016 (11th Cir. 1992). “The common
law right of access may be overcome by a showing of good cause, which requires ‘balanc[ing]
the asserted right of access against the other party’s interest in keeping the information
confidential.’” Romero v. Drummond Co., Inc., 480 F.3d 1234, 1246 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Chicago Tribune, 263 F.3d at 1309).
Based on the foregoing, the Motion to seal is denied, as the parties have not provided the
Court with sufficient information to discern whether an adequate basis exists for sealing the
video. Motions to seal must be supported by facts and may not be premised on generalized
assertions of harm to individual or business interests. Because the Motion merely states that the
parties wish to keep the video confidential, the Court cannot engage in the balancing of interests
required to determine whether secrecy is necessary.
The Court offers a final note about motions to seal. When a party files a motion to seal,
he or she is asking that the Court rely on sealed information when making substantive decisions
Case 9:21-cv-80307-WM Document 32 Entered on FLSD Docket 11/18/2021 Page 3 of 3
in their case. As the undersigned issue orders on substantive motions, absent extremely
exceptional circumstances, the undersigned will not seal or redact any of the undersigned’s
rulings. Therefore, as a practical point, the information sought to be sealed will likely become a
matter of public record eventually.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the parties’ Joint Motion
to File Store Video Under Seal [DE 31] is DENIED.
ORDERED and ADJUDGED in chambers at West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County,
Florida, this 18th day of November 2021.
United States Magistrate Judge
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