Combs v. The Twins Group, Inc.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE UNDER SEAL (DOC. 21 ) WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Magistrate Judge Michael J. Newman on 5/4/17. (pb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
WESTERN DIVISION AT DAYTON
AARON M. COMBS,
Case No. 3:16-cv-295
THE TWINS GROUP, INC.,
District Judge Thomas M. Rose
Magistrate Judge Michael J. Newman
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO FILE UNDER SEAL (DOC. 21) WITHOUT PREJUDICE
This Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) case is before the Court on Defendant’s
unopposed motion for leave to file a joint motion for approval of a settlement agreement under
seal. Doc. 21. In support of the motion to file under seal, Defendant states only that, “[a]s part
of the parties’ settlement discussions, the parties negotiated a confidentiality provision with
respect to the terms of the settlement.” Id. at PageID 99.
The Sixth Circuit “recently clarified the ‘stark difference’ between court orders entered to
preserve the secrecy of proprietary information while the parties trade discovery, and the sealing
of the court’s docket and filings[.]” Rudd Equip. Co., Inc. v. John Deere Constr. & Forestry Co.,
834 F.3d 589, 593–94 (6th Cir. 2016). “Secrecy is acceptable at the discovery stage[.]” Wausau
Underwriters Ins. Co. v. Reliable Transp. Specialists, Inc., No. 15-12954, 2016 WL 6134480, at
*2 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 21, 2016). However, “very different considerations apply” when parties
seek to file “material in the court record.” Rudd Equip., 834 F.3d at 593 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing
Shane Grp., Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich., 825 F.3d 299, 305 (6th Cir. 2016). When
parties seek to file material as part of the record, “[t]he public’s focus is not only on the
litigation’s result, but ‘also on the conduct giving rise to the case[.]’” Id. As a result, “the public
is entitled to assess for itself the merits of judicial decisions.” Id. (quoting Shane Grp., 825 F.3d
Thus, a party maintaining that records should be sealed from public view upon filing
bears the heavy burden of setting forth specific reasons why the interests in “nondisclosure are
compelling, why the interests supporting access are less so, and why the seal itself is no broader
than necessary.” Shane Grp., 825 F.3d at 306 (2016); see also Rudd Equip, 834 F.3d at 593-94.
Such burden applies even where no “party objects to the motion to seal.” See id. “[E]ven where
a party can show a compelling reason why certain documents or portions thereof should be
sealed, the seal itself must be narrowly tailored to serve that reason.” Id. at 305. As a result
“[t]he proponent of sealing . . . must ‘analyze in detail, document by document, the propriety of
secrecy, providing reasons and legal citations.” Id. at 305-06.
The undersigned concludes that Defendant fails to meet the burden to seal court records
as required by the Sixth Circuit. In fact, one district court recently denied a similar request in a
FLSA case. Lee v. Asurian Ins. Servs., Inc., 206 F. Supp. 3d 1307, 1309 (M.D. Tenn. 2016).
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion is DENIED, but WITHOUT PREJUDICE to refiling.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
May 4, 2017
s/ Michael J. Newman
Michael J. Newman
United States Magistrate Judge
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