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A.S. v. Harrison Township Board of Education

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 8, 2017

A.S., a minor, individually and by his parents H.S. and M.S., Plaintiffs,
v.
HARRISON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION and EAST GREENWICH SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.

          JAMIE EPSTEIN, ESQ. Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002 Counsel for Plaintiff

          COOPER LEVENSON, P.A., William S. Donio, Esq. Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401 Counsel for Defendant East Greenwich School District

          PARKER McCAY, P.A., Brett Gorman, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Harrison Township Board of Education

          OPINION

          HON. NOEL L. HILLMAN, United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motions to Seal [Docket #s 184, 200] the financial terms of their settlement of this Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq., (“IDEA”), suit. For the reasons stated herein, the motions will be granted.

         I.

         Plaintiffs have brought this suit against the public school districts of Harrison Township and East Greenwich Township on behalf of their 9 year-old child, A.S., who is undisputedly disabled. Harrison Township has settled with Plaintiffs. East Greenwich has not, and continues with active litigation of this suit.

         On December 8, 2016 the Settlement Agreement between Plaintiffs and Defendant Harrison Township Board of Education was filed with the Court (under temporary seal) in support of those parties' joint motion for approval of the settlement.[1] A publicly-available version of the Settlement Agreement, with only the dollar figures redacted, has been filed separately on the docket.

         II.

         It is well established that there is “a common law public right of access to judicial proceedings and records.” In re Cendant, Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 192 (3d Cir. 2001). In order to overcome the presumption of a public right to access, the movant must demonstrate that “good cause” exists for the protection of the material at issue. Securimetrics, Inc. v. Iridian Technologies, Inc., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22297at *2 (D.N.J. Mar. 30, 2006). Good cause exists when a party makes a particularized showing that disclosure will cause a “clearly defined and serious injury to the party seeking closure.” Id. (citing Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir. 1994)).

         Local Civil Rule 5.3(c)(3) requires that a motion to seal describe (a) the nature of the materials or proceedings at issue; (b) the legitimate private or public interest which warrant the relief sought; (c) the clearly defined and serious injury that would result if the relief sought is not granted; (d) why a less restrictive alternative to the relief sought is not available; (e) any prior order sealing the same materials in the pending action; and (f) the identity of any party or nonparty known to be objecting to the sealing request.

         “Any settlement agreement filed with the Court or incorporated into an order shall, absent an appropriate showing under federal law, be deemed a public record and available for public review.” L. Civ. R. 5.3(d)(2).

         III.

         Plaintiffs and Defendant Harrison Township request that the financial terms of the settlement agreement be sealed. Defendant East Greenwich Township opposes sealing, asserting that the financial terms of the settlement must be disclosed ...


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