Orellana v. Aranas et al.

Filing 45

Order GRANTING ECF No. 40 Motion for leave to file medical records under seal. Signed by Magistrate Judge Carla Baldwin on 8/2/2022. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - HL)

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Case 3:20-cv-00041-CLB Document 45 Filed 08/02/22 Page 1 of 2 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 3 *** 4 MANUEL D. ORELLANA, 5 Plaintiff, 6 7 8 Case No. 3:20-CV-00041-CLB ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO SEAL v. [ECF No. 40] ROMEO ARANAS, et al., Defendants. 9 10 11 Before the Court is Defendants’ motion for leave to file medical records under seal in support of motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 40.) 12 “The courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public 13 records and documents, including judicial records and documents.” Courthouse News 14 Serv. v. Planet, 947 F.3d 581, 591 (9th Cir. 2020) (quoting Courthouse News Serv. v. 15 Brown, 908 F.3d 1063, 1069 (7th Cir. 2018)). Certain documents are exceptions to this 16 right and are generally kept secret for policy reasons, including grand jury transcripts and 17 warrant materials in a pre-indictment investigation. United States v. Bus. of Custer 18 Battlefield Museum & Store Located at Interstate 90, Exit 514, S. of Billings, Mont., 658 19 F.3d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Kamakana v. City & Cnty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 20 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006)). 21 If a party seeks to file a document under seal, there are two possible standards the 22 party must address: the compelling reasons standard or the good cause standard. See 23 Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1096-97 (9th Cir. 2016). The 24 choice between the two standards depends on whether the documents proposed for 25 sealing accompany a motion that is “more than tangentially related” to the merits of the 26 case. Id. at 1099. If it is more than tangentially related, the compelling reasons standard 27 applies. If not, the good cause standard applies. Ctr. for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1102. 28 Here, Defendants seek to file exhibits under seal in connection with the motion for Case 3:20-cv-00041-CLB Document 45 Filed 08/02/22 Page 2 of 2 1 summary judgment, which are “more than tangentially related” to the merits of a case. 2 Therefore, the compelling reasons standard applies. 3 Under the compelling reasons standard, “a court may seal records only when it 4 finds ‘a compelling reason and articulate[s] the factual basis for its ruling, without relying 5 on hypothesis or conjecture.’” United States v. Carpenter, 923 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 6 2019) (quoting Ctr. for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1096-97) (alteration in original). Finding 7 a compelling reason is “best left to the sound discretion” of the court. Ctr. for Auto Safety, 8 809 F.3d at 1097 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 599 (1978)). 9 This Court, and others within the Ninth Circuit, have recognized that the need to 10 protect medical privacy qualifies as a “compelling reason” for sealing records, since 11 medical records contain sensitive and private information about a person’s health. See, 12 e.g., Spahr v. Med. Dir. Ely State Prison, No. 3:19-CV-0267-MMD-CLB, 2020 WL 137459, 13 at *2 (D. Nev. Jan. 10, 2020); Sapp v. Ada Cnty. Med. Dep’t, No. 1:15-CV-00594-BLW, 14 2018 WL 3613978, at *6 (D. Idaho July 27, 2018); Karpenski v. Am. Gen. Life Companies, 15 LLC, No. 2:12-CV-01569RSM, 2013 WL 5588312, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 9, 2013). While 16 certain aspects of a party’s medical condition may be at issue in certain types of actions, 17 that does not mean that all medical records filed in connection with a motion (which often 18 contain unrelated medical information) must be broadcast to the public. In other words, 19 the party’s interest in keeping sensitive health information confidential outweighs the 20 public’s need for direct access to the medical records. 21 Here, the referenced exhibits contain Plaintiff’s sensitive health information, 22 medical history, and treatment records. Balancing the need for the public’s access to 23 information regarding these medical history, treatment, and condition against the need to 24 maintain the confidentiality of these medical records weighs in favor of sealing these 25 exhibits. Therefore, Defendants’ motion to seal is GRANTED. (ECF No. 40.) 26 August 2, 2022 DATED: _____________________ 27 28 ____________________________________ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 2

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