United States District Court, D. Nevada
WEKSLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
this court is Plaintiff's Motion to Proceed Anonymously.
ECF No. 8. Defendant Cody Racine filed a Response. ECF No.
47. Defendants City of Las Vegas, Ruben Sanchez, James
Suarez, Jonathan Cuff, Joseph Vanek, William McDonald, and
Jon Stevenson (“City of Las Vegas Defendants”)
also filed a Response. ECF No. 52. Mario Rueda, Zach Yeoman
and Jason Tullis filed a Joinder to Defendant Cody
Racine's Response. ECF No. 53. Plaintiff replied to the
City of Las Vegas Defendants' response. ECF No. 59.
Plaintiff replied to Defendant Cody Racine's response.
ECF No. 60.
claims she was subjected to sexual harassment, gender
discrimination, and retaliatory tactics by the City of Las
Vegas Fire and Rescue during her employment as a firefighter.
Plaintiff alleges the City of Las Vegas Fire and Rescue
permitted and participated in the distribution and viewing of
a videotape during work hours which displayed Plaintiff
engaging in sexual behavior. Plaintiff states she produced
this videotape intending it be viewed only by her former
boyfriend, who was also a firefighter at the City of Las
Vegas Fire and Rescue. Plaintiff alleges that after they
broke up, her now former boyfriend made this videotape
available to other firefighters, who in turn propagated its
dissemination and viewing.
now requests to remain anonymous throughout the pendency of
this litigation. The court denies the motion for the reasons
requests to proceed anonymously to avoid physical and
economic retaliation. ECF 8 at 2. Plaintiff bases her fear of
harm on her belief that someone intentionally shot at her
car. Id. She also expresses concerns about the
likelihood of being hired by another fire department should
her identity be revealed. Id.at 5. In addition, she
fears public condemnation based on the nature of the video
involved in this case and notes the effect the distribution
of this video has had on her personal and professional life.
Id. at 3-5.
oppose the request and argue Plaintiff's perceived
physical harm is merely conjecture and, in any event, rely on
case law to suggest Plaintiff's claims do not rise to the
necessary level of harm. ECF No. 47 at 5-6; ECF No. 52 at
3-4. Defendants also state the ways in which this case has
caused personal embarrassment to them, and they point to acts
Plaintiff undertook to put her case in the public eye. ECF
No. 52 at 4-6.
embedded in the American judicial system is a presumption of
openness in judicial proceedings. Richmond Newspapers,
Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 569-574 (1980)
(describing the benefits of full access to the court system).
That is why our court system has a default preference for
openness, and parties are allowed to use pseudonyms “in
the ‘unusual case' when nondisclosure of the
party's identity ‘is necessary ... to protect a
person from harassment, injury, ridicule or personal
embarrassment.'” See Does I thru XXIII v.
Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1067-68 (9th
Cir.2000) (citing United States v. Doe, 655 F.2d 920
(9th Cir. 1981) and Doe v. Madison Sch. Dist. No.
321, 147 F.3d 832 (9th Cir. 1998)).
unusual or special circumstances exist, the district court
has discretion to permit a party to remain anonymous so long
as “the party's need for anonymity outweighs 
prejudice to the opposing party and  the public's
interest in knowing the party's identity.”
Id. at 1068 (quotation omitted). The court must
“determine the precise prejudice at each stage of the
proceedings to the opposing party, and whether proceedings
may be structured so as to mitigate that prejudice.”
Id. (citing James v. Jacobson, 6 F.3d 233,
240-41 (4th Cir. 1993)). Finally, the court must decide
“whether the public's interest in the case would be
best served by requiring that the litigants reveal their
identities.” Id. at 1068-69 (citing Doe v.
Stegall, 563 F.3d 180, 185 (5th Cir. 1981)).
this balancing test, courts have permitted plaintiffs to use
pseudonyms in three situations: (1) when identification
creates a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm; (2)
when anonymity is necessary “to preserve privacy in a
matter of sensitive and highly personal nature”; and
(3) when the anonymous party is “compelled to admit
[his or her] intention to engage in illegal conduct, thereby
risking criminal prosecution[.]” Id.
Protection from harassment, injury or personal
claims there is a risk of both physical and economic harm if
her identity is disclosed in this case. As discussed below,
the court neither finds that Plaintiff's fear of physical
harm is reasonable nor that she is vulnerable to retaliation.
In addition, the consequences that could flow from any
economic harm are not extraordinary in nature, as required by
the Ninth Circuit. The court further finds that while the
video involves personal and highly sensitive material,
Plaintiff's steps to publicize the case and other actions
she has endorsed are inconsistent with a desire to remain
anonymous. These factors therefore weigh against allowing
Plaintiff to proceed anonymously.