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China Falcon Flying Limited v. Dassault Falcon Jet Corp.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 29, 2017

CHINA FALCON FLYING LIMITED, Plaintiff,
v.
DASSAULT FALCON JET CORP., Defendant.

          OPINION

          MICHAEL A. HAMMER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation's motion to seal six documents in full and portions of thirty-three other documents pursuant to L. Civ. R. 5.3(c).[1] See Mot. to Seal, D.E. 67. All of the documents Defendant seeks to seal or redact were submitted by the parties in connection with Plaintiff China Falcon Flying Limited's motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Id. Plaintiff opposes the motion. The Court has considered the submissions in support of, and in opposition to, the motion. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local Civil Rule 78.1, the Court decided this motion without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In or around 2009, Defendant retained Plaintiff for the purpose of facilitating and brokering sales of Defendant's Falcon Jets to buyers in China. Am. Compl. ¶¶6-8, D.E. 78. At that time, the parties entered into a Finder's Fee Agreement which provided that Plaintiff would be owed certain commissions based on the successful consummation of Falcon Jet sales brokered by Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶9-30. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached the contract by refusing to pay the proper commission on six separate sales of Falcon Jets. Id. ¶¶31-61. Plaintiff initiated this action on August 14, 2015 in a four count Complaint alleging: (1) Breach of Contract; (2) Breach of Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (3) Quantum Meruit; and (4) Unjust Enrichment. Compl. ¶22-39, D.E. 1.

         On January 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the Complaint.[2] See Mot. to Amend, D.E. 56. Defendant opposed the motion. The parties submitted voluminous materials in support of, and in opposition to, the motion to amend. On March 27, 2017, Defendant filed the present motion to seal the entirety of certain documents and portions of other documents submitted by the parties in relation to Plaintiff's motion to amend. D.E. 67.

         Defendant seeks to seal five categories of information: (1) detailed pricing information on relevant Falcon Jet aircrafts, (2) contracts between Defendant and third parties which contain confidentiality provisions, (3) finder's fee agreements between Defendant and Plaintiff and the amounts paid to Plaintiff pursuant to these agreements, (4) Defendant's net income statement for aircraft that are subject to the Amended Complaint, and (5) transactional information between Defendant and a third party, Minsheng Financial Leasing Co, Ltd (“Minsheng”). See Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Seal at 1-2, D.E. 68; see also Index in Supp. of Mot. to Seal, D.E. 67-4. Defendant claims that disclosure of this information, which has never been previously available to the public, “could seriously impair and injure DFJ's competitive position in the marketplace.” Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Seal at 2, D.E. 68.

         Plaintiff has opposed this motion, arguing that the Defendant's conclusory statements made in support of its motion to seal are insufficient to meet the particularity requirement of L. Civ. R. 5.3(c). Pl.'s Br. in Opp. to Mot. to Seal at 1, D.E. 70. Furthermore, Plaintiff argues that Defendant has failed to illustrate a sufficient harm that would result if the documents were not sealed, and that Defendant's proposal to completely seal six documents is not the least restrictive method available. Id. at 6.

         II. DISCUSSION

         It is well settled that there is a “a common law public right of access to judicial proceedings and records.” In re Cendant Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 192 (3d Cir. 2001). Therefore, when a moving party seeks an order sealing court records, it must demonstrate that “good cause” exists to overcome the presumption in favor of public access. Securimetrics, Inc. v. Iridian Techs., Inc., Civ. No. 03-4394, 2006 WL 827889 (D.N.J. Mar. 30, 2006). Typically, a motion to seal is granted when the moving party's private interest to seal documents outweighs the public's interest in disclosing the information. See CDK Global LLC v. Tulley Auto Grp., Inc., Civ. No. 15-3103, 2017 WL 870400, *4 (D.N.J. Mar. 3, 2017). In this District, the Court looks to L. Civ. R. 5.3 to determine whether a movant has demonstrated “good cause.” L. Civ. R. 5.3(c) directs that a Court must consider the following four factors:

(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; [and]
(d) why a less restrictive alternative to the relief sought is not available;

         In the present motion to seal, Defendant has satisfied all four factors, each of which will be discussed in turn below. As such, the ...


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