United States District Court, D. Nevada
TONYA GUNTER, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
UNITED FEDERAL CREDIT UNION, DOES 105 inclusive and ROE CORPORATIONS 6-10 inclusive, Defendants.
WILLIAM G. COBB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court is Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File
Documents Records Under Seal. (ECF No. 65.) The motion is
motion, Plaintiff seeks leave to file under seal an
unredacted version of her motion for class certification and
appointment of class counsel, as well as an unredacted copy
of Defendant's responses to interrogatories 10 and 15,
attached as Exhibit 10 to the declaration of Richard D.
McCune filed in support of Plaintiff's motion for class
certification and appointment of class counsel.
courts have recognized a general right to inspect and copy
public records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.” See Kamakana v. City and County of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted).
“‘Throughout our history, the open courtroom has
been a fundamental feature of the American judicial system.
Basic principles have emerged to guide judicial discretion
respecting public access to judicial proceedings. These
principles apply as well to the determination of whether to
permit access to information contained in court documents
because court records often provide important, sometimes the
only, bases or explanations for a court's
decision.'” Oliner v. Kontrabecki, 745
F.3d 1024, 1025 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. F.T.C., 710 F.2d 1165, 1177
(6th Cir. 1983)).
that have been traditionally kept secret, including grand
jury transcripts and warrant materials in a pre-indictment
investigation, come within an exception to the general right
of public access. See Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1178.
Otherwise, “a strong presumption in favor of access is
the starting point.” Id. (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). “The presumption of access
is ‘based on the need for federal courts, although
independent-indeed, particularly because they are
independent-to have a measure of accountability and for the
public to have confidence in the administration of
justice.'” Center for Auto Safety v. Chrysler
Group, LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1096 (9th Cir. 2016),
cert. denied, 137 S.Ct. 38 (Oct. 3, 2016) (quoting
United States v. Amodeo (Amodeo II), 71 F.3d 1044,
1048 (2nd Cir. 1995); Valley Broad Co. v. U.S. Dist.
Court-D. Nev., 798 F.2d 1289, 1294 (9th Cir. 1986)).
are two possible standards a party must address when it seeks
to file a document under seal: the compelling reasons
standard or the good cause standard. See Center for Auto
Safety, 809 F.3d at 1096-97. Under the compelling
reasons standard, “a court may seal records only when
it finds ‘a compelling reason and articulate[s] the
factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis
or conjecture.” Id. (quoting
Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1179). “The court must
then ‘conscientiously balance[ ] the competing
interests of the public and the party who seeks to keep
certain judicial records secret.” Id.
“What constitutes a ‘compelling reason' is
‘best left to the sound discretion of the trial
court.'” Id. (quoting Nixon v. Warner
Comm., Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 599 (1978)). “Examples
include when a court record might be used to ‘gratify
private spite or promote public scandal, ' to circulate
‘libelous' statements, or ‘as sources of
business information that might harm a litigant's
competitive standing.'” Id. (quoting
Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598-99).
for Auto Safety described the good cause standard, on
the other hand, as the exception to public access that had
been applied to “sealed materials attached to a
discovery motion unrelated to the merits of a case.”
Id. (citing Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v.
Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1213-14 (9th Cir.
2002)). “The ‘good cause language comes from Rule
26(c)(1), which governs the issuance of protective orders in
the discovery process: ‘The court may, for good cause,
issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”
Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)).
Ninth Circuit has clarified that the key in determining which
standard to apply in assessing a motion for leave to file a
document under seal is whether the documents proposed for
sealing accompany a motion that is “more than
tangentially related to the merits of a case.”
Center for Auto Safety, 809 F.3d at 1101. If that is
the case, the compelling reasons standard is applied. If not,
the good cause standard is applied.
Plaintiff seeks to file under seal unredacted versions of her
motion for class certification and appointment of class
counsel as well as interrogatory responses filed in support
of that motion. Plaintiff argues that the documents should be
filed under seal because they are subject to the stipulated
protective order signed by the court which limits disclosure
of information provided during discovery to Plaintiffs
counsel. The subject discovery responses were deemed
confidential pursuant to the protective order, and portions
of the motion for class certification and appointment of
class counsel cite to documents deemed confidential.
the motion seeks to file under seal discovery responses, and
portions of a motion for class certification that reference
documents deemed confidential pursuant to a stipulated
protective order and is not more than tangentially related to
the merits, the good cause standard appears to apply. In this
action, Plaintiff challenges Defendant's policies and
practices regarding the assessment of overdraft fees.
According to Plaintiff, the documents reference
Defendant's proprietary interest in its mechanisms for
handling its customers' accounts, its internal finances
and aggregate customer information.
allows the court to protect “trade secret[s] or other
confidential research, development, or commercial
information[.]” As such, the court finds that good
cause exists for sealing these documents, and Plaintiffs
motion (ECF No.65) is GRANTED.