Peters v. Aetna Inc. et al
ORDER granting 98 Motion to Seal. See Order for further information. Signed by District Judge Martin Reidinger on 4/11/2018. (kby)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
CIVIL CASE NO. 1:15-cv-00109-MR
SANDRA M. PETERS, on behalf of
herself and all others similarly
AETNA INC., AETNA LIFE
INSURANCE COMPANY, and
OPTUMHEALTH CARE SOLUTIONS, )
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Parties’ Joint Motion for
Leave to File Under Seal Certain Supporting Materials for Defendants’
Responses to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel. [Doc. 98].
The press and the public have, under both the First Amendment and
the common law, a qualified right of access to judicial documents and
records filed in civil and criminal proceedings. Doe v. Public Citizen, 749
F.3d 246, 265 (4th Cir. 2014). “The common-law presumptive right of access
extends to all judicial documents and records, and the presumption can be
rebutted only by showing that ‘countervailing interests heavily outweigh the
public interests in access.’” Id. at 265-66 (quoting in part Rushford v. New
Yorker Magazine, Inc., 846 F.2d 249, 253 (4th Cir. 1988)).
Amendment right of access “may be restricted only if closure is ‘necessitated
by a compelling government interest’ and the denial of access is ‘narrowly
tailored to serve that interest.’” Id. at 266 (quoting in part In re Wash. Post
Co., 807 F.2d 383, 390 (4th Cir. 1986)).
When presented with a motion to seal, the law of this Circuit requires
this Court to: “(1) provide public notice of the request to seal and allow
interested parties a reasonable opportunity to object, (2) consider less
drastic alternatives to sealing the documents, and (3) provide specific
reasons and factual findings supporting its decision to seal the documents
and for rejecting the alternatives.” Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 218 F.3d 288,
302 (4th Cir. 2000).
In the present case, the public has been provided with adequate notice
and an opportunity to object to the parties’ motion. The parties filed their
motion on April 5, 2018, and it has been accessible to the public through the
Court’s electronic case filing system since that time. Further, the parties
have demonstrated that the documents at issue contain confidential
business information, including confidential rates and contractual terms,
negotiation strategies, and detailed discussions of systems and processes
that the Defendants consider proprietary and commercially sensitive, and
that the public’s right of access to such information is substantially
outweighed by the compelling interest in protecting the details of such
information from public disclosure. Finally, having considered less drastic
alternatives to sealing the documents, the Court concludes that sealing of
these documents is narrowly tailored to serve the interest of protecting the
Defendants’ sensitive business information.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Parties’ Joint Motion for Leave
to File Under Seal [Doc. 98] is GRANTED, and the following documents and
materials shall be filed under seal until further Order of this Court: the
redacted portions of Aetna’s Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to
Compel; Exhibits 2, 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 14, and 15 attached to Aetna’s Response
in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel; the redacted portions of
Optum’s Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel; the
redacted portions of Exhibits 4 and 8 attached to Optum’s Response in
Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel; and Exhibits 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12,
13, 15, and 17 attached to Optum’s Response in Opposition to Plaintiff’s
Motion to Compel.
Signed: April 11, 2018
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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