United States District Court, D. Nevada
COLLECTORS COFFEE INC. dba COLLECTORS CAFE, Plaintiff,
BLUE SUNSETS, LLC, et al., Defendants.
ORDER (MOTS. FILE UNDER SEAL - ECF NOS. 2, 7, 8,
A. LEEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motions to File
Under Seal (ECF Nos. 2, 7, 8, 9). These Motions are referred
to the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)
and LR IB 1-3 of the Local Rules of Practice.
Motions seek leave to file under seal the Complaint (ECF No.
1), Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No.
10), Motion for Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 11), Motion
to Consolidate (ECF No. 16), and the Appendices (ECF Nos. 17,
18, 19) containing exhibits to these motions. The Motions
state that the parties entered into written agreements
wherein Defendants agreed that all business information
Plaintiff disclosed to Defendants would remain confidential
given Plaintiff's unique and proprietary business model.
Plaintiff asserts that public disclosure of its
“business model or investments would produce a chilling
effect on Plaintiff and its other business
opportunities.” See Mot. (ECF No. 2) at 2.
Thus, Plaintiff seeks to protect its confidential information
“by filing its Complaint and all papers in this
dispute under seal.” Id. at 1-2 (emphasis
added); see also Mots. (ECF Nos. 7, 8, 9) at 3
(“Simply put, Plaintiff needs to protect its highly
sensitive and confidential business model and proprietary
general matter, there is a strong presumption of access to
judicial records. Kamakana v. City & Cnty.
of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006).
However, public “access to judicial records is not
absolute.” Id. at 1178. “In keeping with
the strong public policy favoring access to court records,
most judicial records may be sealed only if the court finds
‘compelling reasons'.” Oliner v.
Kontrabecki, 745 F.3d 1024, 1025-26 (9th Cir. 2014)
(citing Pintos v. Pac. Creditors Ass'n, 605 F.3d
665, 677-78 (9th Cir. 2010)). In general, compelling reasons
exist when court records might become a vehicle for improper
purposes, “such as to gratify private spite, promote
public scandal, commit libel, or release trade
secrets.” In re Roman Catholic Archbishop of
Portland in Oregon, 661 F.3d 417, 429 (9th Cir. 2011)
(citing Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435 U.S.
589, 598 (1978)). Relevant factors also include the
public's “interest in understanding the judicial
process.” Pintos, 605 F.3d at 679; see
also EEOC v. Erection Co., Inc., 900 F.2d 168, 170 (9th
Cir. 1990). Broad allegations of harm, unsubstantiated by
specific examples or articulated reasoning do not justify
sealing. Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1130 (citing Beckman
Ind., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 966 F.2d 470, 476 (9th
Cir. 1992)). “The mere fact that the production of
records may lead to a litigant's embarrassment,
incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not,
without more, compel the court to seal its records.”
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179; see also
Oliner, 745 F.3d at 1026 (finding that embarrassment,
annoyance, or undue burden were not compelling reasons to
seal the entire court record).
strong presumption of access to judicial records
“applies fully” to dispositive motions such as
motions for summary judgment and related attachments.
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179. This principle of access
was adopted for dispositive motions because “the
resolution of a dispute on the merits, whether by trial or
summary judgment, is at the heart of the interest in ensuring
the “public's understanding of the judicial process
and of significant public events.” Id.
(citation omitted). However, the court must also look past
the literal dispositive or non-dispositive label for all
motions to determine whether the “compelling
reasons” standard applies. Center for Auto Safety
v. Chrysler Group, LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1101 (9th Cir.
2016) (finding that public access “does not merely
depend on whether the motion is technically
‘dispositive' ”). Courts must examine
“whether the motion at issue is more than tangentially
related to the underlying cause of action.”
Id. See also, e.g., Oliner, 745
F.3d at 1026; Pintos, 605 F.3d at 678;
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179; Foltz, 331 F.3d
at 1134-36; Phillips v. General Motors, 307 F.3d
1206, 1212-13 (9th Cir. 2002). When a motion that is more
than tangentially related to the merits of a case, a movant
must show “compelling reasons” to seal any
judicial records attached thereto. Center for Auto
Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101 (holding that compelling
reasons standard applied to documents submitted with motion
for preliminary injunction, which was technically
the sealing of entire documents is improper when confidential
information can be redacted while leaving meaningful
information available to the public. See Foltz, 331
F.3d at 1137. To the extent that a sealing order is
permitted, it must be narrowly tailored. See, e.g.,
Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Ct. of Cal., Riverside
Cnty., 464 U.S. 501, 512 (1984). The Supreme Court has
instructed that a sealing order should be “limited to
information that was actually sensitive, ” that is only
the parts of the material necessary to protect the compelling
interest. Id. Thus, even where a court determines
that disclosure of information may result in particularized
harm, and the private interest in protecting the material
outweighs the public interest in disclosure, a court must
still consider whether redacting confidential portions of the
material will leave meaningful information available to the
public. See In re Roman Catholic Archbishop, 661
F.3d at 425 (citing Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1136-37).
Motions argue that the “good cause” standard
applies here because Plaintiff is seeking to seal
non-dispositive motions and related exhibits.
However, the court's analysis does not turn on a
dispositive or non-dispositive label. See Center for Auto
Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101. Rather, the court must
determine whether the subject filings are more than
tangentially related to the underlying cause of action.
Id. Although the complaint is not a dispositive
motion, it is the operative pleading containing
Plaintiff's allegations and claims for relief. Plaintiff
is essentially seeking to file the entire case under seal.
Every entry on the docket has been sealed except for an order
compelling complying with the requirement to file
certificates of interested parties, the certificates of
interested parties, and a clerk's notice of
the pending motions ask the court to find that Plaintiff is
likely to succeed on merits. The court finds plaintiff has
not shown good cause for essentially sealing the entire court
file. The filings to date are more than tangentially related
to the merits of this case, and granting the motion would
effectively shield any substantive information about the
judicial process from the public. Thus, the compelling
reasons standard applies.
has not shown compelling reasons to seal the entirety of the
subject filings. Although confidential business information,
proprietary technology, and trade secrets are routinely
protected by filing under seal, plaintiff provides no
justification for sealing its complaint and virtually all
papers submitted thus far. The filings contain confidential
information as well as legal argument and statements of facts
that do not reveal confidential information. The specific
portions of the subject filings containing proprietary and
confidential business information may be sealed, but not all
others. By June 22, 2017, Plaintiff shall file a redacted
version of its Complaint (ECF No. 1), Emergency Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No. 10), Motion for
Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 11), Motion to Consolidate
(ECF No. 16) on the public record consistent with this Order.
Plaintiff has not shown compelling reasons to seal all of the
exhibits. Each appendix is identical and contains almost 200
pages of exhibits. Some of the documents are business
agreements that clearly indicate an intent to maintain
confidentiality, while other documents appear to available to
the public online. Documents available in the public domain
may not be judicially sealed and hidden from public view.
Plaintiff has not identified with any particularity which
exhibits contain confidential business information or
otherwise protected documents.
Appendices also violate of LR IA 10-3 and LR IC 2-2(a)(3)(B)
as they do not contain a table of contents identifying each
exhibit and the exhibits were not individually identified on
the court's electronic filing system. Furthermore, at
least one exhibit in each appendix is illegible. See
ECF Nos. 17-12, 18-12, 19-12. The court will therefore deny
the Motion (ECF No. 9) without prejudice. The court will
allow the appendices to remain sealed temporarily so that
Plaintiff and its counsel may confer about what, if any,
portions of the exhibits should be sealed or redacted.
Plaintiff shall have until July 5, 2017, to submit: (i) one
omnibus appendix addressing the deficiencies noted herein,
and (ii) a motion to seal including an appropriate memorandum
of points and authorities making a particularized showing why
the exhibits should be sealed. If Plaintiff determines that
an exhibit or portion thereof need not be sealed, or that
redaction is sufficient, such documents may be filed
the court notes that the Motions were erroneously filed under
seal because the Motions themselves do not discuss
confidential information. Thus, the Clerk of the Court will
be instructed to unseal the filings. If a motion to seal
itself contains confidential information, the moving party
may file a redacted motion to seal on the public
docket and an unredacted motion under seal. However,
this practice is disfavored as litigants should attempt to
meet their burden under Kamakana without specific
references to confidential information.
court's review of any motion requesting leave to file
under seal will be complicated by the parties' failure to
follow Ninth Circuit case law, the Local Rules of Practice,
and the CM/ECF filing protocols. Counsel are responsible for
informing themselves and instructing their staff regarding
the correct procedures for filing under seal. The parties are
encouraged to contact the CM/ECF Helpdesk at (702) 464-5555
prior to filing should they have any technical questions. For
additional direction, the ...