Capital C Consulting LLC v. Ohio Care + Wellness LLC
ORDER denying without prejudice 5 Motion to File Document Under Seal. Signed by Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson on 11/15/2017. (ew)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
CAPITAL C CONSULTING LLC,
Civil Action 2:17-cv-991
Judge Michael H. Watson
Magistrate Judge Jolson
OHIO CARE + WELLNESS LLC,
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Exhibits Under
Seal and to Restrict Access and Redact Document. (Doc. 5). More specifically, Plaintiff seeks
to file Exhibits 5 and 6 of the Verified Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief (Docs. 15, 1-6), and the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 2),
under seal. (Id.). Consistent with its Motion, Plaintiff provided the documents in question to the
Court (as well as opposing counsel) for in camera review. For the reasons that follow, that
Motion is DENIED without prejudice.
A district court may enter a protective order during discovery on a mere showing of
“good cause.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). “[V]ery different considerations apply” when a party
seeks to seal documents “[a]t the adjudication stage,” which applies “when the parties place
material in the court record.” Shane Grp., Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich., 825 F.3d 299,
305 (6th Cir. 2016) (quotation omitted). “Unlike information merely exchanged between the
parties, ‘[t]he public has a strong interest in obtaining the information contained in the court
record.’” Id. (quoting Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. F.T.C., 710 F.2d 1165, 1180 (6th
Cir. 1983)). For this reason, the moving party owns a “heavy” burden of overcoming a “‘strong
presumption in favor of openness’ as to court records.” Id. (quoting Brown & Williamson, 710
F.2d at 1179); see id. (“Only the most compelling reasons can justify non-disclosure of judicial
records.” (quotation omitted)). “[T]he seal itself must be narrowly tailored to serve that reason,”
which requires the moving party to “analyze in detail, document by document, the propriety of
secrecy, providing reasons and legal citations.” Id. at 305-06 (quotation omitted). Similarly, the
court “that chooses to seal court records must set forth specific findings and conclusions which
justify nondisclosure.” Id. at 306 (quotation omitted).
The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Shane Group, Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
provides guidance for analyzing Plaintiff’s Motion. There, “[n]umerous court filings,” including
Plaintiffs’ amended complaint, the motion for class certification, and 194 exhibits, were filed
under seal. Graiser v. Visionworks of Am., Inc., No. 1:15-CV-2306, 2016 WL 3597718, at *1
(N.D. Ohio July 5, 2016).
The sole justification was that the filings “contained materials
designated as confidential under [a joint] protective order.” Id.; see Shane, 825 F.3d 299 at 306.
The Sixth Circuit held that such reasoning was “inadequate” to seal the documents at issue
because it was “brief” and “perfunctory.” Id.
Here, Plaintiff seeks leave to file two exhibits and the Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order under seal. (See Doc. 5). In support of the Motion, Plaintiff states only that it
“requests leave because the information contained in the redacted portions of those documents is
or may be confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret.” (Id.). As was the case in Shane, this
explanation is similarly “brief” and “perfunctory,” and does not meet the heavy burden to justify
sealing at the adjudication stage. Shane, 825 F.3d at 306. The Shane Court also emphasized
that, “[i]n delineating the injury to be prevented, specificity is essential.” Id. at 307-08 (quoting
In re Cendant Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 194 (3d Cir. 2001)). Plaintiff’s explanation, based only on
the general assertion that the documents may be confidential or considered trade secrets, does not
“demonstrate—on a document-by-document, line-by-line basis—that specific information in the
court record meets the demanding requirements for a seal.” Id. at 308; see Blasi v. United Debt
Servs., LLC, No. 2:14-CV-83, 2016 WL 3765539, at *1 (S.D. Ohio July 14, 2016) (applying
Shane to reach a similar conclusion); Graiser, 2016 WL 3597718, at *2 (N.D. Ohio July 5, 2016)
(same). Further, it appears from the Verified Complaint that the information Plaintiff seeks to
place under seal is publicly available. (Doc. 1 at 12–13).
Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Exhibits Under Seal and to Restrict Access and
Redact Document (Doc. 5) is therefore DENIED without prejudice to re-filing. The redacted
version of the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 2), as
well as the redacted exhibits (Docs. 1-5, 1-6) shall remain on the docket for fourteen (14) days
from the date of this Order, during which time Plaintiff may re-file a more detailed and narrowly
tailored motion to seal. See Blasi, 2016 WL 3765539, at *1 (noting that a proper motion to seal
must “demonstrate a compelling reason for filing under seal, . . . must be narrowly tailored to
serve that reason,” and must “analyze in detail, document by document, the propriety of secrecy,
providing reasons and legal citations”).
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: November 15, 2017
/s/ Kimberly A. Jolson
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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