D.T. et al v. Armstrong
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER granting 3 Motion ; granting in part and denying in part 5 Motion to Seal; and granting 18 Motion to Seal Document. Signed by Judge Edward J. Lodge. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (st)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
D.T. and R.T., as guardians and next
friends of L.T.,
Case No. 1:17-cv-00248-EJL
RICHARD ARMSTRONG, in his official
capacity as Director of the Idaho
Department of Health and Welfare,
Currently pending before the Court are: Plaintiffs’ Motion to Proceed Anonymously
(Dkt. 3), Plaintiffs’ Motion to Seal (Dkt. 5), and Defendant’s unopposed Motion to Seal
(Dkt. 18). These Motions are fully briefed and ripe for the Court’s consideration. Having
fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay,
and because the Court conclusively finds the decisional process would not be significantly
aided by oral argument, the Motion shall be decided on the record before this Court without
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion to Proceed
Anonymously (Dkt. 3), grants in part and denies in part Plaintiffs’ Motion to Seal (Dkt. 5),
and grants Defendant’s Motion to Seal (Dkt. 18). The Court finds that, at least at this
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 1
junction in the proceedings and with the record before the Court at this time, using
pseudonyms in the caption and filing only the most sensitive documents in the case under
seal strikes the appropriate balance of preserving L.T.’s privacy while still providing the
public with appropriate access to the pleadings, briefings, and orders of the Court.
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Proceed Anonymously (Dkt. 3)
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(a), Plaintiffs, D.T. and R.T, seek to
use pseudonyms in the form of their initials to protect their own identities as well as that
of their son, L.T. Plaintiffs argue that disclosing D.T. and R.T’s full names would
necessarily reveal the identity of L.T. Plaintiffs primary goal in using pseudonyms is to
protect L.T.’s privacy rights and to protect him from embarrassment and community
Generally, Rule 10(a) requires a complaint to have a caption that includes the
“name[s] all the parties.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). There are exceptions to this rule.
For example, Plaintiffs rely upon Rule 5.2(a), which protects the identity of minors
by requiring a party to use only the initials of an individual known to be a minor. Fed. R.
Civ. P. 5.2 (a). While Plaintiffs argue that L.T. is a developmentally-disabled minor in the
context of the Motion to Proceed Anonymously, it is clear from the record that L.T. is a
developmentally-disabled adult. Therefore, the rule does not apply, although the reason
behind it, including the privacy and security concerns of our most vulnerable community
members, is relevant to the issues before the Court.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 2
While Rule 5.2(a) does not clearly apply under the circumstances, the Court
otherwise has discretion to “allow parties to use pseudonyms in the ‘unusual case’ when
nondisclosure of the party’s identity ‘is necessary . . . to protect a person from harassment,
injury, ridicule or personal embarrassment.’” Does I thru XXIII v. Advanced Textile Corp.,
214 F.3d 1058, 1067-1068 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v. Doe, 655 F.2d 920,
922, n.1 (9th Cir. 1981)). “[A] party may preserve his or her anonymity in judicial
proceedings in special circumstances when the party’s need for anonymity outweighs
prejudice to the opposing party and the public's interest in knowing the party’s identity.”
Id. at 1068.
In this instance, the opposing party is aware of the Plaintiffs’ identity. The sole issue
to be balanced against Plaintiffs’ stated privacy concerns is the public’s interest in
accessing the courts and judicial records.
Plaintiffs seek to proceed with pseudonyms to preserve their anonymity and that of
their son. They argue that the pleadings and records involved in this case will include
detailed, personal, and potentially embarrassing facts regarding L.T.’s medical condition
and behavioral issues that, if disclosed, might hinder L.T.’s ability to socialize, find
employment, and otherwise integrate in his community. Defendant opposes the motion
because Plaintiffs have already disclosed L.T.’s identity in the context of the Kyler House
closing through social media and a news story.
The Court has reviewed the materials Defendant cites in its briefing and does not
find that they serve as a basis for denying Plaintiffs from proceedings anonymously herein.
Plaintiffs are allowed to decide how and to what extent they disclose personal information,
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 3
and there is no evidence from the records cited that Plaintiffs have chosen to reveal the
more embarrassing, personal, and potentially prejudicial facts regarding L.T.’s medical
condition and behavioral issues that are part of the record in this case.
Moreover, Defendant does not argue that they have been prejudiced by the use of
pseudonyms and, while the Court is well-aware of the public’s general interest in having
access to court records, the Court finds that Plaintiffs’ rights to privacy outweighs the
public interest’s in Plaintiffs’ actual identity in this case. In fact, the use of pseudonyms
that protect Plaintiffs’ identity may allow greater public access to the information, files,
and records at issue in this dispute. With L.T.’s identity protected, the facts underlying his
condition may be disclosed to a greater degree than they otherwise would if his identity
Plaintiff’s Motion to Seal (Dkt. 5).
Plaintiffs also seek to seal the Declarations of Mark Derby and of “R.T.”, as well as
all of the exhibits to those Declarations. Plaintiffs argue the Declarations of Mark Derby
and “R.T.” contain highly personal and confidential information about “L.T.” including
information about his health, disabilities, and behaviors. Such information, if made public,
would potentially subject L.T. to embarrassment and ridicule, and could be used to prevent
him from accessing job markets and from successfully becoming and remaining a valued
member of his community. According to Plaintiffs, little or no public interest would be
served by requiring L.T. to make such information public and requiring publication of such
material might discourage L.T. and other litigants like L.T. from bringing cases to vindicate
important statutory rights.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 4
Defendant filed a partial opposition to the Motion to Seal. (Dkt. 9.) Defendant does
not oppose sealing filings related to specific diagnostic or medical opinions concerning
L.T. However, Defendant argues that the Declaration of R.T. and Exhibits A, B, and E to
that Declaration as well as Exhibit A to the Derby Declaration should not be sealed because
these filings do not include information subject to a legitimate claim of privacy.
With regard to the Declaration of R.T. and Exhibits. A, B, and E thereto, the Court
finds the motion to seal is warranted and necessary for the same reasons stated regarding
the decision to allow Plaintiffs to proceed anonymously. Unsealing these documents, as is,
would reflect the first and last name of the Plaintiffs. However, because the Plaintiffs’
personal information can be redacted, the Court directs the Plaintiffs to redact and refile
Exhibits A, B, and E in an unsealed fashion.
Exhibit A to Dr. Derby’s Affidavit is his CV. The Court finds no compelling reason
to seal this document and denies Plaintiffs’ in this regard.
Defendant’s Motion to Seal (Dkt. 18)
Defendant seeks to file the following documents under seal:
(1) Declaration of Blake Blumfield in Support of Defendants’
Motion for Summary Judgment: Individual Claims (Dkt. 197)
[Filed Under Seal] in K.W., et al. v. Armstrong, et al., No. 1:12cv-00022-BLW (D. Idaho) (Dkt. 12);
(2) 2nd Declaration of Blake Blumfield in Support of
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment: Individual
Claims (Dkt. 235) [Filed Under Seal] in K.W., et al. v.
Armstrong, et al., No. 1:12-cv-00022-BLW (D. Idaho) (Dkt.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 5
(3) Declaration of Amanda Barras in Opposition to Motion for
Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order (Dkt.
(4) Declaration of Blake Blumfield in Opposition to Motion for
Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order (Dkts.
16 through 16-4); and
(5) Declaration of Amanda DeYoung in Opposition to Motion
for Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order
filed herein as ECF Nos. 17 through 17-5
The Court finds that sealing these documents is warranted and necessary. Judge
Winmill has already determined that sealing the Declarations of Blake Blumfield filed in
Idaho federal district court Case Number CV 12-22-BLW was necessary and the Court has
not been presented with any justification for reconsidering that decision in the context of
Furthermore, the Declarations of Amanda Barras, Blake Blumfield, and Amanda
DeYoung filed in the above-captioned matter contain diagnostic personal health, mental,
and emotional evaluations. The Court finds L.T. privacy interests weigh in favor of sealing
these documents from public disclosure. To the extent such information was relied upon in
the contexts of the parties’ briefs, it has been disclosed in the Court’s decision. That is
sufficient to provide for the public’s interest in these court documents.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 6
NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED: (1) Plaintiffs’ Motion to Proceed
Anonymously (Dkt. 3) and Defendant’s Motion to Seal (Dkt. 18) are GRANTED and (2)
Plaintiffs’ Motion to Seal (Dkt. 5) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as set
DATED: June 16, 2017
Edward J. Lodge
United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER- 7
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?