United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
GIAN BIOLOGICS, LLC, a Delaware limited liability corporation, Plaintiff,
CELLMEDIX HOLDINGS, LLC, a New Jersey limited liability company, PERFUSION.COM, INC., a Florida corporation, NORTH AMERICAN STERILIZATION AND PACKAGING COMPANY, INC., a New Jersey corporation, BRYAN V. LICH, an individual Florida resident, and PAUL WIEBEL, JR., an individual New Jersey resident, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter came before the Court on the parties' Joint Motion
for Entry of Stipulated Final Judgment (Doc. #75) filed on
March 28, 2017, wherein the parties requested that the Court
retain jurisdiction to enforce an undisclosed settlement
agreement. Upon review, the Court directed the parties to
file a memorandum of reasons why jurisdiction should be
retained. (Doc. #76.) On April 12, 2017, plaintiff filed a
Memorandum of Reasons (Doc. #77) and an Unopposed Motion to
Seal Document in Support of Memorandum of Reasons for the
Court to Retain Jurisdiction (Doc. #78).
parties seek to dismiss this case with prejudice pursuant to
a Settlement Agreement which requires the Court to retain
jurisdiction over its enforcement for six years. Because of
confidential provisions, the parties also seek to file the
Settlement Agreement under seal for the Court's
Memorandum of Reasons, plaintiff argues that another judge in
the Middle District has retained jurisdiction in a similar
case with similar terms; that the retention of jurisdiction
would be for a limited time through at least December 6,
2022; that federal jurisdiction would exist to
enforce the Settlement Agreement under 28 U.S.C. § 1338
because “an infringement analysis may be
required” raising a “substantial question of
patent law”; and that the Court is permitted to retain
jurisdiction. The Court is unpersuaded that it should retain
jurisdiction for almost six years.
fact that another judge in the Middle District of Florida has
retained jurisdiction in a patent case is certainly not
dispositive. The Court does not doubt that it has the
authority to do so, but only questions the need to do so for
the length of time the parties contemplate. The parties
essentially want to dismiss the patent suit and have the
Court retain jurisdiction over a potential future breach of
contract claim. A federal court may or may not have
jurisdiction over such a breach of contract claim.
“That is, federal jurisdiction over a state law claim
will lie if a federal issue is: (1) necessarily raised, (2)
actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of
resolution in federal court without disrupting the
federal-state balance approved by Congress.” Gunn
v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1065 (2013). If resolution of
the breach is only “backward-looking”, it has no
impact on the prior federal patent litigation. Id.
at 1066-67. But cf. Jang v. Boston Sci. Corp., 767
F.3d 1334, 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (“[c]ontract claims
based on underlying ongoing royalty obligations, [ ] raise
the real world potential for subsequently arising
infringement suits affecting other parties.”). The
Court need not resolve that issue.
a Settlement Agreement under seal is problematic for the
parties. “The common-law right of access to judicial
proceedings, an essential component of our system of justice,
is instrumental in securing the integrity of the
process.” Chicago Tribune Co. v.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1311 (11th
Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). With regard to settlement
[i]t is immaterial whether the sealing of the record is an
integral part of a negotiated settlement between the parties,
even if the settlement comes with the court's active
encouragement. Once a matter is brought before a court for
resolution, it is no longer solely the parties' case, but
also the public's case. Absent a showing of extraordinary
circumstances . . . the court file must remain accessible to
Thus, because it is the rights of the public, an absent third
party, that are at stake, any member of the public has
standing to view documents in the court file. . . .
Brown v. Advantage Eng'g, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013,
1016 (11th Cir. 1992). A desire to prevent use of a record in
another proceeding is “simply not an adequate
justification for its sealing.” Wilson v. Am.
Motors Corp., 759 F.2d 1568, 1571 (11th Cir. 1985).
under this Court's Local Rules, “[n] o settlement
agreement shall be sealed absent extraordinary circumstances,
such as the preservation of national security, protection of
trade secrets or other valuable proprietary information,
protection of especially vulnerable persons including minors
or persons with disabilities, or protection of nonparties
without either the opportunity or ability to protect
themselves.” M.D. Fla. R. 1.09(a). In any event,
“[u]nless otherwise ordered by the Court for good cause
shown, no order sealing any item pursuant to this section
shall extend beyond one year, although a seal is renewable by
a motion. . . .” M.D. Fla. R. 1.09(c).
seeks leave to file the settlement agreement under seal based
on the parties' agreement to limit disclosure, and
because the document contains confidential royalty and
payment terms. The Court does not find these to be the type
of extraordinary circumstances warranting the sealing of the
review of the memorandum of reasons, the Court will deny the
Motion to Seal (Doc. #78) and the Joint Motion for Entry of
Stipulated Final Judgment (Doc. #75). The parties may elect
to file a stipulation for dismissal of this case, without the
caveat that the Court retain jurisdiction. In the
alternative, if retention of jurisdiction is a necessary
component of the settlement, the parties shall so notify the
Court and the matter will be reopened for further proceedings
pursuant to the Case Scheduling and Management Order.