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Yancey v. Wal-Mart Corp.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 13, 2019

CARLTON YANCEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WAL-MART CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DOUGLAS E. ARPERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion by Plaintiffs Carlton and Letitia Yancey (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) to seal certain materials. ECF No. 101. Specifically, Plaintiffs seek to permanently seal Plaintiffs' letter to the Court dated January 22, 2019. ECF No. 95. Defendant Wal-Mart Corporation has not responded to the Motion. The Court has fully considered Plaintiffs' motion and, having declined to hold oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b), for the reasons specified below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal is GRANTED.

         I. Legal Standard

         Local Civil Rule 5.3 governs requests to seal documents filed with the Court. Under Rule 5.3(c)(2), a party seeking to seal documents must show “(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.” L. Civ. R. 5.3(c).

         “There is a common law right of public access to judicial records, although the right is not absolute.” Carson v. New Jersey State Prison, 2018 WL 4343313, at *1 (D.N.J. Sept. 10, 2018), (citing In re Cendant Corp., 260 F.3d 183, 194 (3d Cir. 2001)). To override that common law right of access, a party seeking to seal the judicial record “‘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 closure.'” Carson, 2018 WL4343313, at *1 (citing Miller v. Indiana Hosp., 16 F.3d 549, 551 (3d Cir. 1994); Publicker Indus., Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1071 (3d Cir. 1984)). “In delineating the injury to be prevented, specificity is essential.” Carson, 2018 WL4343313, at *1 (citing Publicker, 733 F.2d at 1071)). “Broad allegations of harm, bereft of specific examples or articulated reasoning, are insufficient.” Carson, 2018 WL4343313, at *1. Additionally, where a party moves to seal pretrial motions of a “nondiscovery nature” the moving party must make a showing sufficient to overcome a “presumptive right of public access.” See Leucadia v. Applied Extrusion Technologies, Inc., 998 F.2d 157, 164 (3d Cir.1993). To overcome this presumption, the moving party must demonstrate that “good cause” exists. Good cause exists when it “is demonstrated that disclosure will cause a clearly defined and serious injury.” Glenmede Trust Co. v. Thompson, 56 F.3d 476, 483 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23 F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir.1994)).

         To provide further clarity, the Third Circuit has set forth the following additional factors to consider in determining whether “good cause” exists:

(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 public health and safety;
(5) Whether the sharing of information among litigants will promote fairness and efficiency;
(6) Whether a party benefitting from the order of confidentiality is a public entity or official; and
(7) Whether the case involves issues important to the public.

See Glenmede, 56 F.3d at 483 (citing Pansy, 23 F.3d at 787-91) and Archbrook Laguna LLC v. New Age Elecs., Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61074, *5-8 ...


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