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