United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
ORDER CONDITIONALLY GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
TO FILE UNDER SEAL (Doc. 50)
Timothy S. Black United States District Judge
civil case is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
file under seal. (Doc.50).
6, 2017, Defendant Ronald Joseph (“Ron, Sr.”)
filed a motion for partial summary judgment. (Doc. 44).
27, 2017, Plaintiff filed and served on opposing counsel a
response (“Response”) to Ron, Sr.'s motion
for summary judgment (Doc. 49). Plaintiff also filed a motion
to file the Response under seal (Doc. 50). The motion states
that Plaintiff's response “contains documents that
have been designated as CONFIDENTIAL- SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE
ORDER pursuant to the Court's Stipulated Protective
Order.” (Doc. 50 at 1). The motion does not identify
which information or documents Plaintiff seeks to file under
docket reflects that Plaintiff contacted the Clerk of Court,
which restricted the Response, but recently removed it from
the docket entirely.
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.
as to 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 several 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 ...