United States District Court, D. Nevada
January 10, 2017
SHIGE TAKIGUCHI, FUMI NONAKA, MITSUAKI TAKITA, TATSURO SAKAI, SHIZUKO ISHIMORI, YUKO NAKAMURA, MASAAKI MORIYA, HATSUNE HATANO, AND HIDENAO TAKAMA, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
MRI INTERNATIONAL, INC., EDWIN J FUJINAGA, JUNZO SUZUKI, PAUL MUSASHI SUZUKI, LVT, INC., dba STERLING ESCROW, and DOES 1-500, Defendants.
November 1, 2016, the plaintiffs filed separate motions for
partial summary judgment against defendants (1) Junzo Suzuki;
(2) Paul Suzuki; and (3) MRI and Edwin Fujinaga. Plaintiffs
filed the motion against Junzo Suzuki and certain of its
exhibits (ECF No. 529) under seal, along with a concurrent
motion for leave to do so (ECF No. 528). Plaintiffs asserted
that the motion against Junzo Suzuki relied on evidence that
had been designated as confidential pursuant to the
parties' stipulated protective order (ECF No. 335) -
specifically, Junzo Suzuki's deposition - and that while
they disagreed as to the scope of the confidentiality
designation, they agreed that the deposition contained
references to “private financial information”
that was properly protected from public disclosure. On
November 2, 2016, the court granted the plaintiffs'
motion to seal.
December 9, 2016, the Suzukis filed their oppositions to the
motions for summary judgment. The oppositions were not filed
under seal. In addition, the Suzukis filed their responses to
the plaintiffs' Separate Statement of Facts (ECF Nos. 564
& 567). Those responses were filed under seal. The
Suzukis filed a concurrent motion to seal, which included a
request that the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment
against Paul Suzuki and Appendix 1 to that motion also be
sealed. The Suzukis argued that all three documents relied on
or referenced deposition “testimony regarding private
financial information and other sensitive information
protected from public disclosure under the terms of the
Protective Order.” (ECF No. 562 at 3).
January 6, 2017, plaintiffs filed their replies to the
responses to the motions for summary judgment and to the
Suzukis' responses to the separate statements of fact. Of
these, the only document plaintiffs filed under seal, along
with a concurrent motion for leave to do so, was their reply
to Junzo Suzuki's response to the plaintiffs'
separate statement of facts. (ECF Nos. 578 & 579).
public has a “general right . . . to inspect and copy
public records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.” Kamakana v. City & County of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006). A
“party seeking to seal judicial records must show that
‘compelling reasons supported by specific factual
findings . . . outweigh the general history of access and the
public policies favoring disclosure.'” Pintos
v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d 665, 678 (9th Cir.
2009). The court must weigh relevant factors, including
“public interest in understanding the judicial process
and whether disclosure of the material could result in
improper use of the material for scandalous or libelous
purposes or infringement upon trade secrets, ” in
deciding a motion to seal. Id. at 679 n.6 (citing
Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir.
1995)). “‘Simply invoking a blanket claim, [of
privilege] such as privacy, ' or confidentiality,
‘will not, without more, suffice to exempt a document
from the public's right of access, even where the
assertion of privacy or confidentiality is unopposed.”
Trudel v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 WL
11514215, at *1 (D. Ariz. Aug. 15, 2014) (quoting
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1185 and citing San Jose
Mercury News, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Ct., 187 F.3d 1096,
1102-03 (9th Cir. 1999)).
court has reviewed and considered the materials the
plaintiffs and Suzukis seek to have sealed in connection with
the motions for summary judgment and finds that nothing
contained therein meets the compelling reasons standard.
While there is reference to the amounts of commissions
received by the Suzukis in exchange for their work with MRI,
and to the amounts of money Junzo Suzuki wired back to MRI to
cover its shortfalls, the court finds that this information
is not the type of sensitive financial information that must
be protected from public disclosure. There are no account
numbers or specific identification of assets by location;
this is simply evidence that large sums of money were
exchanged between MRI and the Suzukis. The court is not
persuaded that this information could be used for an improper
purpose and concludes that the public is entitled to the
evidence. The parties do not specifically identify the other
claimed “sensitive information” that was revealed
during the Suzukis' depositions which should be protected
from public disclosure, much less provide compelling reasons
for doing so. As a matter of fact, although the Suzukis have
designated Paul Suzuki's deposition as
“confidential, ” the court is unpersuaded that
such designation is proper given that Paul Suzuki answered
virtually no questions during his deposition.
unless the plaintiffs or the Suzukis show cause on or before
January 20, 2017, why any specific portions relating to
discrete items of information of plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment against Junzo Suzuki (ECF No. 529) -
including Junzo Suzuki's deposition and the exhibits
attached thereto - Junzo Suzuki's response to the
plaintiffs' statement of facts (ECF No. 564), Paul
Suzukis' response to the plaintiffs' statement of
facts (ECF No. 567), and the plaintiffs' reply to Junzo
Suzuki's response to the separate statement of facts (ECF
No. 579) should remain sealed, the court will unseal the
aforementioned documents in their entirety.
the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment against Paul
Suzuki and Appendix 1 thereto, the motion to seal (ECF No.
562) is DENIED. In any response to the order
to show cause, the Suzukis may identify specific, discrete
information in those documents that they believe should be
sealed and the compelling reasons for doing so, and the court
will consider the relevant factors to determine whether
sealing of that information is appropriate.