Central Freight Lines, Inc. v. Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc., et al

Filing 251

ORDER granting Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc.'s 221 First Motion to Seal; granting Amazon Fulfillment Services, Inc.'s 226 Second Motion to Seal. Signed by Judge James L. Robart. (SWT)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 10 CENTRAL FREIGHT LINES, INC., ORDER GRANTING MOTIONS TO SEAL Plaintiff, 11 CASE NO. C17-0814JLR v. 12 13 AMAZON FULFILLMENT SERVICES, et al., 14 Defendants. 15 I. INTRODUCTION 16 Before the court are: (1) Defendant Amazon Fulfillment Services’s (“AFS”) 17 motion to seal documents related to its motion for reconsideration of the court’s summary 18 judgment order (1st MTS (Dkt. # 221)), and (2) AFS’s motion to seal documents related 19 to its opposition to Plaintiff Central Freight Lines, Inc.’s (“CFL”) motions in limine (2nd 20 MTS (Dkt. # 226)). Both motions are unopposed. (See generally Dkt.; see also 1st MTS 21 at 2; 2nd MTS at 2.) The court has considered the motions, the parties’ submissions 22 ORDER - 1 1 concerning the motions, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. 2 Being fully advised, 1 the court GRANTS both motions. 3 II. 4 BACKGROUND The court has detailed this case’s factual and procedural background in several 5 prior orders. (See, e.g., 7/10/17 Order (Dkt. # 47) at 2-4; 11/07/17 Order (Dkt. # 57) at 6 2-6; 3/11/19 Order (Dkt. # 135) at 2-4.) Thus, in this order, the court recounts only the 7 facts and procedural history salient to the instant motions. 8 9 This case arises from a contract dispute between CFL, a freight carrier, and AFS. (See generally FAC (Dkt. # 139).) CFL provided shipping services to AFS pursuant to a 10 Transportation Agreement (“the Agreement”) executed on July 7, 2011. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14, 11 Ex. A (“Agreement”).) In mid-2016, AFS audited CFL’s services and concluded that it 12 had overpaid CFL under the Agreement. (FAC ¶¶ 17-20; see id., Ex. B (“Demand 13 Letter”).) CFL disputes AFS’s contentions, arguing that its billing was consistent with 14 the parties’ oral modification to the Agreement and that AFS improperly attempted to 15 “claw back” money from CFL. (See id. ¶¶ 3-5.) 16 On August 12, 2019, the parties filed motions in limine. (See CFL MILs (Dkt. 17 # 216); AFS MILs (Dkt. # 217).) On August 14, 2019 AFS filed a motion for partial 18 reconsideration of the court’s summary judgment order. (See MFR (Dkt. ## 222 19 // 20 // 21 1 22 Neither party requests oral argument on the motions (see 1st MTS at 1; 2nd MTS at 1), and the court concludes that oral argument would not be helpful to its disposition of the motions, see Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(b)(4). ORDER - 2 1 (redacted), 223 (sealed)); MSJ Order (Dkt. ## 214 (sealed), 220 (redacted)).) AFS now 2 seeks to seal certain documents related to those filings. 3 4 III. A. 5 ANALYSIS Legal Standard When deciding a motion to seal, courts “start with a strong presumption in favor 6 of access to court records.” Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 7 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)). This 8 presumption, however, “is not absolute and can be overridden given sufficiently 9 compelling reasons for doing so.” Id. (citing San Jose Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. 10 Ct. N. Dist. (San Jose), 187 F.3d 1096, 1102 (9th Cir. 1999)). The standard for 11 determining whether to seal a record depends on the filing that the sealed record is 12 attached to. See id. at 1136-37. Because the sealed documents at issue here are attached 13 to motions that are “more than tangentially related to the merits of [this] case,” the court 14 applies the compelling reasons standard to determine if sealing is appropriate. See Ctr. 15 for Auto Safety v. Chrysler Grp., 809 F.3d 1092, 1098-102 (9th Cir. 2016). 16 Under the compelling reasons standard, the party seeking to seal a judicial record 17 bears the burden of showing that “compelling reasons supported by specific factual 18 findings . . . outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring 19 disclosure.” Kamakana v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178-79 (9th Cir. 20 2006) (internal citations omitted). A failure to meet that burden means that the record 21 will be filed in public. Id. at 1182. If a court decides to seal a record, it must “base its 22 // ORDER - 3 1 decision on a compelling reason and articulate the factual basis for its ruling.” Id. at 1179 2 (quoting Hagestad, 49 F.3d at 1434). 3 “In general, ‘compelling reasons’ sufficient to outweigh the public’s interest in 4 disclosure and justify sealing court records exist when such ‘court files might have 5 become a vehicle for improper purposes,’ such as the use of records to . . . release trade 6 secrets.” Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179 (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc’ns, Inc., 435 7 U.S. 589, 598 (1978)). The final determination of what constitutes a compelling reason is 8 “best left to the sound discretion of the trial court.” Nixon, 435 U.S. at 599. 9 In addition, in the Western District of Washington, parties seeking to file 10 documents under seal must follow the procedure laid out in Local Rule 5(g). See Local 11 Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 5(g). Pursuant to Local Rule 5(g), a party filing a motion to seal 12 must include “a certification that the party has met and conferred with all other parties in 13 an attempt to reach agreement on the need to file the document[s] under seal.” Id. LCR 14 5(g)(3)(A). The party seeking to seal the documents must also explain the bases for 15 requiring the relief. Id. LCR 5(g)(3)(B). 16 B. 17 First Motion to Seal AFS moves to seal certain portions of its motion for reconsideration of the court’s 18 summary judgment order. (See 1st MTS at 2 (citing MFR, MSJ Order).) AFS’s motion 19 for reconsideration refers to and relies on materials that the court previously concluded 20 “the parties have articulated compelling reasons to redact or seal.” (See 7/15/2019 Order 21 (Dkt. # 204) at 5 (“The material that AFS designated as confidential relates to, or 22 contains information about, settlement negotiations, specific pricing terms between the ORDER - 4 1 parties, sensitive third-party information, and confidential business details relating to 2 AFS’s internal processes and procedures.”).) Therefore, the court grants AFS’s first 3 motion to seal (Dkt. # 221) for the reasons set forth in the court’s prior order to allow 4 sealing and redaction of the same materials. (See 7/15/2019 Order at 5.) 5 C. 6 Second Motion to Seal AFS moves to seal “page 22, line 7 through page 223, line 24 of the deposition of 7 Ankush Khandelwal, and page 168, line 23 through [page] 172, line 11 of the FRCP 8 30(b)(6) deposition of Brett Beavers.” (See Beavers Decl. (Dkt. # 227) ¶ 3 (citing Sealed 9 Declarations (Dkt. # 232) (sealed)).) AFS filed these declarations in support of its 10 opposition to CFL’s motions in limine. (See MIL Resp. (Dkt. ## 228 (redacted), 229 11 (sealed).) AFS argues that compelling reasons exist to seal these materials because they 12 describe AFS’s “internal process and procedures that, if public[ly] disclosed, could be 13 exploited by other carriers.” (See 2nd MTS at 4; Beavers Decl. ¶¶ 3-5.) 14 The court agrees. The material that AFS designated as confidential relates to 15 confidential business details relating to AFS’s internal processes and procedures, and 16 disclosure of that material could result in improper use by business competitors and 17 others seeking to exploit AFS’s auditing processes. Therefore, the court GRANTS AFS’s 18 second motion to seal (Dkt. # 226). 19 // 20 // 21 // 22 // ORDER - 5 1 2 3 4 IV. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the court GRANTS AFS’s first motion to seal (Dkt. # 221) and GRANTS AFS’s second motion to seal (Dkt. # 226). Dated this 11th day of October, 2019. 5 6 A 7 JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 6

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