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Bock v. Pressler & Pressler, LLP

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 25, 2014

DANIEL BOCK, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
PRESSLER & PRESSLER, LLP., Defendants.

OPINION

MADELINE COX ARLEO, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is presently before the Court on the motion of Defendant Pressler & Pressler, LLP ("Pressler") to seal Dkt. No. 33 pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5.3(c). (Dkt. No. 43). Plaintiff Daniel Bock, Jr. ("Bock") opposes this Motion. (Dkt. No. 50). No oral argument was heard pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, for the reasons set forth herein, and for good cause shown, Defendant's motion to seal is DENIED without prejudice. However, the document at issue shall remain temporarily sealed in order to afford Defendant the opportunity to redact Dkt. No. 33 in accordance with the Court's instructions, as set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court on December 30, 2011. (Dkt. No. 1). A "Discovery Confidentiality Order" was entered by the Court on July 12, 2013. (Dkt. No. 30). On October 1, 2013, Pressler filed a motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 32). In support of said motion, Pressler filed the Certification of Mitchell L. Williamson, Esq., which annexed thereto the Affidavit of Gerard J. Felt, Esq. ("Felt Affidavit") (Dkt. No. 33-1) as an exhibit. This entry is referred to as Dkt. No. 33. On October 10, 2013, Pressler sent Plaintiff a full copy of the Felt Affidavit. On October 15, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to unseal Dkt. No. 33. (Dkt. No. 35). On October 16, 2013, Plaintiff's counsel withdrew the motion to unseal without prejudice and subsequently filed an amended motion to unseal Dkt. No 33. (Dkt. Nos. 37, 38). On October 18, 2013, the Court issued an order requiring Pressler to file a motion to seal Dkt. No. 33 pursuant to L. Civ. R. 5.3 on or before October 25, 2013 or the Court would unseal the document. (Dkt. No. 40). At the request of Defendant, the Court adjourned the filing deadline until November 15, 2013. (Dkt. No. 42). Subsequently, on November 14, 2013, Pressler filed the instant motion seeking to seal Dkt. No. 33, which was previously filed under seal in conjunction with Pressler's motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 43).

Defendant contends that the information in the Felt Affidavit is confidential and not commonly available to the public. In addition, Pressler alleges that if this information were disseminated to the public, it would result in clearly defined and serious injury to Pressler in the competitive collections marketplace and would disrupt the attorney-client relationship. Initially, Defendant contended that there was no less restrictive alternative available. However, in Defendant's reply brief, Pressler conceded that it could redact portions of the Felt Affidavit. Specifically, Pressler stated: "In light of Plaintiff's contentions that certain portions of the Felt Affidavit may be revealed, Pressler submits that it can submit a redacted version of the Felt Affidavit. To that end, Pressler could re-submit ECF Doc. 33 with paragraphs 10 through 32 of the Felt Affidavit redacted." (Dkt. No. 54). Plaintiff, on the other hand, contends that the information in the Felt Affidavit is not confidential, that there is no clearly defined injury that would result if the document is not sealed, and that less restrictive alternatives are available. (Dkt. No. 50).

II. DISCUSSION

Before this Court can grant a party's request to file a document under seal, the party seeking the relief must first demonstrate that "good cause" exists for sealing the document. Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir. 1994). To determine whether good cause exists, this Court shall consider the factors outlined under Local Civil Rule 5.3(c)(2):

"(a) the nature of the materials or proceedings at issue, (b) the legitimate private or public interests which warrant the relief sought, (c) the clearly defined and serious injury that would result if the relief sought is not granted, and (d) why a less restrictive alternative to the relief sought is not available."

Rule 5.3(c)(2). The moving party "bears the burden of showing that the material is the kind of information that courts will protect' and that disclosure will work a clearly defined and serious injury to the party seeking'" to seal the materials at issue. In re Cendant Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 194 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Miller v. Ind. Hosp., 16 F.3d 549, 551 (3d Cir. 1994)).

In making the decision as to whether sealing is appropriate, this Court may consider the following factors:

1. whether disclosure will violate any privacy interests;
2. whether the information is being sought for a legitimate purpose or for an improper purpose;
3. whether disclosure of the information will cause a party embarrassment;
4. whether confidentiality is being sought over information important to ...

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