Doe v. AR et al
DECISION & ORDER granting 2 Motion to Proceed Under a Pseudonym. SO ORDERED. Signed by Hon. Frank P. Geraci, Jr. on 09/07/21. (SFR)
Case 6:21-cv-06353-FPG Document 49 Filed 09/07/21 Page 1 of 3
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Case # 21-CV-6353-FPG
DECISION AND ORDER
AR, MICHAEL S. RUSSELL, ANDREA T. RUSSELL,
MJN, ROBERT G. NOVITSKY, ALICIA M.
NOVITSKY a/k/a ALICIA JEAN, TJH, TIMOTHY J.
HAY, SHANNON M. HAY, BA, LOUIS B.
APPLEBAUM, and JULIE D. APPLEBAUM,
Plaintiff Jane Doe commenced this action in April 2021 proceeding under the auspices of
New York’s Child Victims. ECF No. 1. Plaintiff has moved the Court for leave to file her
Complaint and proceed under a pseudonym or, in the alternative, for an order sealing the
Complaint. ECF No. 2-1 at 3.
The Court issued a Text Order, ECF No. 37, directing the Defendants to respond to
Plaintiff’s motion no later than August 13, 2021. To date, the Court has not received any
opposition. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff’s motion to proceed under a pseudonym is
As a general matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a) requires that “all the parties” be
named in the title of the complaint. “This requirement, though seemingly pedestrian, serves the
vital purpose of facilitating public scrutiny of judicial proceedings and therefore cannot be set
aside lightly.” Sealed Plaintiff v. Sealed Defendant #1, 537 F.3d 185, 188–89 (2d Cir. 2008).
Case 6:21-cv-06353-FPG Document 49 Filed 09/07/21 Page 2 of 3
However, in certain limited circumstances, a court may deviate from this principle and permit a
party to proceed under a pseudonym.
“[W]hen determining whether a plaintiff may be allowed to maintain an action under a
pseudonym, the plaintiff’s interest in anonymity must be balanced against both the public interest
in disclosure and any prejudice to the defendant.” Id. at 189. Factors a court may consider include,
but are not limited to, the following:
(1) whether the litigation involves matters that are highly sensitive and of a personal
nature; (2) whether identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm
to the party seeking to proceed anonymously or even more critically, to innocent
non-parties; (3) whether identification presents other harms and the likely severity
of those harms, including whether the injury litigated against would be incurred as
a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff’s identity; (4) whether the plaintiff is
particularly vulnerable to the possible harms of disclosure, particularly in light of
his [or her] age; (5) whether the suit is challenging the actions of the government
or that of private parties; (6) whether the defendant is prejudiced by allowing the
plaintiff to press his [or her] claims anonymously, whether the nature of that
prejudice (if any) differs at any particular stage of the litigation, and whether any
prejudice can be mitigated by the district court; (7) whether the plaintiff’s identity
has thus far been kept confidential; (8) whether the public’s interest in the litigation
is furthered by requiring the plaintiff to disclose his [or her] identity; (9) whether,
because of the purely legal nature of the issues presented or otherwise, there is an
atypically weak public interest in knowing the litigants’ identities; and (10) whether
there are any alternative mechanisms for protecting the confidentiality of the
Id. at 190 (alterations, citations, and internal quotation marks omitted). “[A] district court is not
required to list each of the factors or use any particular formulation as long as . . . the court
balance[s] the interests at stake in reaching its conclusion.” Id. at 191 n.4.
The Court has considered each of the factors above that are relevant to this case and finds,
on balance, they support permitting Plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym.
For the reasons discussed above, Plaintiff’s motion, ECF No. 2, is GRANTED, and
Plaintiff may proceed under the pseudonym Jane Doe.
Case 6:21-cv-06353-FPG Document 49 Filed 09/07/21 Page 3 of 3
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: September 7, 2021
Rochester, New York
HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR.
United States District Judge
Western District of New York
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