United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
DELORES REID, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
THE KROGER CO., et al., Defendants.
ORDER CONDITIONALLY GRANTING MOTION TO FILE UNDER
SEAL (DOC. 36)
Timothy S. Black, United States District Judge.
Fair Credit Reporting Act case is before the Court on
Defendants' motion to file under seal. (Doc. 36).
21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to certify class pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. (Doc. 34).
Defendants' response to Plaintiff's motion is
currently due on August 25, 2017.
August 23, 2017, Defendants filed a motion requesting an
Order allowing Defendants to file “2014 and Current
Company Matrices” under seal. (Doc. 36 at 1). The
motion states that the matrices are designated as
confidential under the Protective Order (Doc. 27) and that
Plaintiff does not object to the sealing of these documents.
(Doc. 36 at 1). Defendants argue its matrices contain
proprietary and trade secret information, and they are of
little to no importance to the public. (Id. at 2).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court's decision to seal court records is
reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Klingenberg v. Fed.
Home Loan Mortg. Co., 658 Fed.Appx. 202, 207 (6th Cir.
2016) (citing Shane Grp. Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue
Shield, 825 F.3d 299, 306 (6th Cir. 2016)). However,
“the district court's decision is not accorded the
deference that standard normally brings.” Id.
because there is a “stark” difference between, on
one hand, the propriety of allowing litigants to exchange
documents in secret, and on the other hand, allowing
litigants to shield from public view those documents which
are ultimately relied on in the Court's adjudication.
See Shane Grp., 825 F.3d at 305. Parties are
typically entitled to a “protective order”
limiting disclosure of documents in discovery upon a mere
showing of good cause. Id. However, “very
different considerations apply” when these materials
are filed in the public record. Id.
information merely exchanged between the parties, the public
has a strong interest in obtaining the information contained
in the court record. Id. Accordingly, the courts
have long recognized a “strong presumption in favor of
openness” of court records. Id. (quoting
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. F.T.C., 710
F.2d 1165, 1180 (6th Cir. 1983)).
times in the past two years the Sixth Circuit has explained
that a party moving to seal court records must overcome a
significant burden. See Shane Grp., 825 F.3d at
305-06; Klingenberg, 658 Fed.Appx. at 207-08;
Rudd Equip. Co. v. John Deere Constr. &
Forestry Co., 834 F.3d 589, 593-96 (6th Cir. 2016).
According to the Sixth Circuit:
The burden of overcoming that presumption [of openness] is
borne by the party that seeks to seal them. In re Cendant
Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 194 (3d Cir. 2001). The burden is a
heavy one: “Only the most compelling reasons can
justify the non-disclosure of judicial records.” In
re Knoxville News-Sentinel Co., 723 F.2d 470, 476 (6th
Cir. 1983). . . . And even where a party can show a
compelling reason why certain documents or portions thereof
should be sealed, the seal itself must be narrowly tailored
to serve that reason. See, e.g., Press-Enter.
Co. v. Superior Court of California, Riverside Cnty.,
464 U.S. 501, 509-11, 104 S.Ct. 819, 78 L.Ed.2d 629 (1984).
The proponent of sealing therefore must “analyze in
detail, document by document, the propriety of secrecy,
providing reasons and legal citations.”
Baxter, 297 F.3d at 548.
Shane Grp., 825 F.3d at 305-06.
movant's obligation to provide compelling
reasons justifying the seal exists even if the parties
themselves agree the filings should be sealed.
See Rudd Equip., 834 F.3d at 595 (noting the parties
“could not have waived the public's First
Amendment and common law right of access to court
filings”) (citation omitted); see also In re
Knoxville News-Sentinel Co., 723 F.2d 470, 475 (6th Cir.
1983) (in reviewing a motion to seal, the district court has
“an obligation to consider the rights of the
public”). Simply put, this Court has an obligation to
keep its records open for public inspection and that
obligation is not conditioned upon the desires of the parties
to the case. Shane Grp., 825 F.3d at 307.
district court that chooses to seal court records must set
forth specific findings and conclusions “which justify
nondisclosure to the public.” Id. at 306
(quoting Brown & Williamson, 710 F.2d at 1176).
A court's failure to set forth reasons explaining why the
interests in support of nondisclosure are compelling, why the
interests supporting access are less ...