Saunders v. Ford Motor Company et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER Signed by Magistrate Judge Colin H. Lindsay on 10/17/2016 granting in part and denying in part 61 Motion for Leave to File Video Deposition of Dr. Ronald Spears Under Seal. The Court GRANTS the motion to seal to the extent it seeks leave to redact Saunders's date of birth and social-security number from the exhibits in Dr. Spears's deposition. Any party who seeks to file exhibits from Dr. Spears's deposition in the Court's electronic docke t SHALL REDACT the month and day of Saunders' date of birth and the first five digits of Saunders's social-security number. The Court DENIES Saunders motion to the extent it seeks leave to file the deposition transcript of Dr. Spears under seal. Likewise, the Court DENIES the motion to seal to the extent it seeks leave to file the video recording of Dr. Spears's deposition under seal. cc: Counsel (JBM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
Case No. 3:14-cv-594-JHM-CHL
FORD MOTOR COMPANY,
Memorandum Opinion and Order
Keith Saunders moved for leave to file the video deposition of Dr. Ronald Spears under
seal. (DN 61). Ford Motor Company did not file a response.
The Court of Appeals has issued two recent opinions discussing protective orders
between parties during the discovery process and filing sealed documents in the court record.
See Rudd Equip. Co. v. John Deere, No. 16-5055 (6th Cir. Jul. 27, 2016); Shane Grp., Inc. v.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich., Nos. 15-1544/1551/1552 (6th Cir. Jun. 7, 2016). In Rudd, the
Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision to unseal an entire civil action. Id. at 6. In
Shane Group, the Court of Appeals vacated a district court’s decision to seal, among other
filings, nearly two hundred exhibits and an expert report at the heart of a class action. Id. at 11.
Together, these decisions highlight the strong presumption in favor of open public proceedings.
“Secrecy is fine at the discovery stage, before the material enters the judicial record.”
Shane Group at 6 (emphasis added). “At the adjudication stage, however, very different
considerations apply.” Id. at 6; see also, Rudd at 6. “Shielding material in court records, then,
should be done only if there is a ‘compelling reason why certain documents or portions thereof
should be sealed.’” Rudd at 6. “The proponent of sealing therefore must ‘analyze in detail,
document by document, the propriety of secrecy, providing reasons and legal citations.’” Shane
Group at 7 (quoting Baxter Int’l, Inc. v. Abbott Labs., 297 F.3d 544, 548 (7th Cir. 2002)).
Before granting a motion to seal, the court “must set forth specific findings and
conclusions which justify nondisclosure to the public.” Rudd at 6 (internal quotation marks
omitted). The interests in support of nondisclosure must be “compelling;” the interests in
support of access must be “less so;” and the seal itself must be “no broader than necessary.” Id.
Saunders asks to file Dr. Spears’s video deposition transcript under seal. Pl.’s Mot. 1.
Saunders argues that the exhibits to Dr. Spears’s deposition include “handwritten notes that
contain Plaintiff’s name, social security number, and date of birth.” Id. at 4 (citing Fed. R. Civ.
P. 5.2).1 He goes on to argue that redaction “would create noticeable gaps in the testimony and
handwritten notes used as exhibits.” Id. at 4. Although Saunders styled the motion as “Motion
for Leave to File the Video Deposition Transcript of Dr. Ronald Spears Under Seal,” Saunders’s
primary argument appears to point to the difficulties in redacting the video itself, not the
transcript. See, e.g., id. (“Redaction would be unduly burdensome and costly given the fact that
the deposition is on a video CD and would tend to diminish the nature of the testimony.”). He
concludes, “An unredacted, sealed, deposition is the most convenient way to enter this video
deposition into the record.” Id.
Rule 5.2 says:
(a) Redacted filings. Unless the court orders otherwise, in an electronic or paper filing
with the court that contains an individual’s social-security number, taxpayeridentification number, or birthdate, the name of an individual known to be a minor, or
a financial- account number, a party or nonparty making the filing may include only:
(1) the last four digits of the social-security number and taxpayeridentification number;
(2) the year of the individual’s birth;
(3) the minor’s initials; and
(4) the last four digits of the financial-account number.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 5.2(a).
The Court finds that the exhibits from Dr. Spears’s deposition contain two examples of
sensitive personal information that, if filed in the Court’s electronic docket, must be redacted:
Saunders’s date of birth and Saunders’s social-security number. Consistent with Rule 5.2, if a
party files an exhibit from Dr. Spears’s deposition into the Court’s electronic docket, the Court
will order that party to redact the month and day of Saunders’s date of birth and the first five
digits of Saunders’s social-security number.
As for the video deposition and transcript, Saunders falls far short of his burden to
“analyze in detail, document by document, the propriety of secrecy, providing reasons and legal
citations.” Shane Group at 7. He offers no specific example from Dr. Spears’s deposition
testimony itself, apart from the exhibits discussed above, that would justify redaction. While he
argues that redacting the video would be the “most convenient,” Pl.’s Mot. 4, convenience alone
cannot overcome our “system’s strong presumption in favor of openness.” Rudd at 4. Notably,
Saunders makes no argument that sealing is necessary because the deposition contains a
discussion of Saunders’s sensitive medical history. Nor is there any argument that sealing the
deposition would protect an innocent third party’s privacy interests. See Shane Group at 10.
Furthermore, it is of no consequence that Ford Motor Company did not object to
Saunders’ motion. Ford “could not have waived the public’s First Amendment and common law
right of access to court filings.” Rudd at 8 (emphasis in original). Ultimately, filing the entire
video deposition and transcript under seal fails to satisfy the court’s command to make a seal “no
broader than necessary.” Id. at 6.
Accordingly, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the motion to seal (DN
The Court GRANTS the motion to seal to the extent it seeks leave to redact Saunders’s
date of birth and social-security number from the exhibits in Dr. Spears’s deposition. Any party
who seeks to file exhibits from Dr. Spears’s deposition in the Court’s electronic docket SHALL
REDACT the month and day of Saunders’ date of birth and the first five digits of Saunders’s
social-security number in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(a).
The Court DENIES Saunders’ motion to the extent it seeks leave to file the deposition
transcript of Dr. Spears under seal. Likewise, the Court DENIES the motion to seal to the extent
it seeks leave to file the video recording of Dr. Spears’s deposition under seal.
cc: Counsel of record
October 17, 2016
Colin Lindsay, MagistrateJudge
United States District Court
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