United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
CAPITAL C. CONSULTING LLC, Plaintiff,
OHIO CARE WELLNESS LLC, Defendant.
Michael H. Watson Judge.
KIMBERLY A. JOLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to File Exhibits Under Seal and to Restrict Access and
Redact Document. (Doc. 5). More specifically, Plaintiff seeks
to file Exhibits 5 and 6 of the Verified Complaint for
Injunctive and Declaratory Relief (Docs. 1-5, 1-6), and the
Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary
Injunction (Doc. 2), under seal. (Id.). Consistent
with its Motion, Plaintiff provided the documents in question
to the Court (as well as opposing counsel) for in
camera review. For the reasons that follow, that Motion
is DENIED without prejudice.
district court may enter a protective order during discovery
on a mere showing of “good cause.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(c)(1). “[V]ery different considerations apply”
when a party seeks to seal documents “[a]t the
adjudication stage, ” which applies “when the
parties place material in the court record.” Shane
Grp., Inc. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mich., 825 F.3d
299, 305 (6th Cir. 2016) (quotation omitted). “Unlike
information merely exchanged between the parties,
‘[t]he public has a strong interest in obtaining the
information contained in the court record.'”
Id. (quoting Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Corp. v. F.T.C., 710 F.2d 1165, 1180 (6th Cir. 1983)).
For this reason, the moving party owns a “heavy”
burden of overcoming a “‘strong presumption in
favor of openness' as to court records.”
Id. (quoting Brown & Williamson, 710
F.2d at 1179); see Id. (“Only the most
compelling reasons can justify non-disclosure of judicial
records.” (quotation omitted)). “[T]he seal
itself must be narrowly tailored to serve that reason,
” which requires the moving party to “analyze in
detail, document by document, the propriety of secrecy,
providing reasons and legal citations.” Id. at
305-06 (quotation omitted). Similarly, the court “that
chooses to seal court records must set forth specific
findings and conclusions which justify nondisclosure.”
Id. at 306 (quotation omitted).
Sixth Circuit's decision in Shane Group, Inc. v. Blue
Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provides guidance for
analyzing Plaintiff's Motion. There, “[n]umerous
court filings, ” including Plaintiffs' amended
complaint, the motion for class certification, and 194
exhibits, were filed under seal. Graiser v. Visionworks
of Am., Inc., No. 1:15-CV-2306, 2016 WL 3597718, at *1
(N.D. Ohio July 5, 2016). The sole justification was that the
filings “contained materials designated as confidential
under [a joint] protective order.” Id.;
see Shane, 825 F.3d 299 at 306. The Sixth Circuit
held that such reasoning was “inadequate” to seal
the documents at issue because it was “brief” and
Plaintiff seeks leave to file two exhibits and the Motion for
a Temporary Restraining Order under seal. (See Doc.
5). In support of the Motion, Plaintiff states only that it
“requests leave because the information contained in
the redacted portions of those documents is or may be
confidential, proprietary, and/or trade secret.”
(Id.). As was the case in Shane, this
explanation is similarly “brief” and
“perfunctory, ” and does not meet the heavy
burden to justify sealing at the adjudication stage.
Shane, 825 F.3d at 306. The Shane Court
also emphasized that, “[i]n delineating the injury to
be prevented, specificity is essential.” Id.
at 307-08 (quoting In re Cendant Corp., 260 F.3d
183, 194 (3d Cir. 2001)). Plaintiff's explanation, based
only on the general assertion that the documents may be
confidential or considered trade secrets, does not
“demonstrate-on a document-by-document, line-by-line
basis-that specific information in the court record meets the
demanding requirements for a seal.” Id. at
308; see Blasi v. United Debt Servs., LLC, No.
2:14-CV-83, 2016 WL 3765539, at *1 (S.D. Ohio July 14, 2016)
(applying Shane to reach a similar conclusion);
Graiser, 2016 WL 3597718, at *2 (N.D. Ohio July 5,
2016) (same). Further, it appears from the Verified Complaint
that the information Plaintiff seeks to place under seal is
publicly available. (Doc. 1 at 12-13).
Motion for Leave to File Exhibits Under Seal and to Restrict
Access and Redact Document (Doc. 5) is therefore
DENIED without prejudice to re-filing. The
redacted version of the Motion for a Temporary Restraining
Order and Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 2), as well as the
redacted exhibits (Docs. 1-5, 1-6) shall remain on the docket
for fourteen (14) days from the date of this Order, during
which time Plaintiff may re-file a more detailed and narrowly
tailored motion to seal. See Blasi, 2016 WL 3765539,
at *1 (noting that a proper motion to seal must
“demonstrate a compelling reason for filing under
seal, . . . must be ...