United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. WHITTEMORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT are Plaintiffs Motion to Seal (Dkt. 45)
and Defendant Barnett's Brief Regarding Plaintiffs Motion
for Leave to File Under Seal (Dkt. 46). Upon consideration,
the motion to seal is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in
Barnett Outdoors, LLC ("Barnett") and Defendants
Synergy Outdoors, LLC and Wildgame Innovations, LLC filed
respective motions for summary judgment. (Dkts. 26, 27).
Plaintiff responded in opposition to both motions. (Dkts. 36,
37). He moved for leave to file the following exhibits to his
responses under seal: "Crossbow Claims Chart";
"Interoffice email dated November 4, 2013";
"Academy Sports Outdoors E-Commerce Vendor
Agreement"; "Interoffice emailed [sic] dated March
5, 2013"; "crossbow drawings and interoffice
emails"; and "Crossbow Modification Timeline."
(Dkt. 38 at p. 2). Barnett responded with a brief asserting
that only two of those exhibits, the Claims Chart and the
Modification Timeline, were of such a sensitive nature that
they needed to be filed under seal. (Dkt. 39). The motion to
seal was denied without prejudice for failure to comply with
Local Rule 1.09(a). (Order, Dkt. 44).
filed a second motion to seal requesting that he be permitted
to file the Claims Chart and Modification Timeline under seal
and that the seal be for a duration of one year. (Dkt. 45).
According to Plaintiff, he "does not concede that the
documents in question are necessarily sensitive in nature,
" but he felt "compelled to file this Motion to
Seal so as not to violate" a confidentiality agreement
with Barnett. (Id. at p, 8 n.2). Plaintiff argues
that it is necessary for him to file the Claims Chart because
it establishes "Barnett's knowledge that
inadequately guarded crossbows cause injury to its users,
" which is material to his punitive damages claim.
(Id. at pp. 5-6). He argues that the Modification
Timeline is material, in that it shows the feasibility of
adding safety features to the product and Barnett's
knowledge of the need to add safety features, (Id.
at p. 7). Because Barnett is the party with the primary
interest in maintaining the confidentiality of those
documents, it addressed the need for sealing those documents
in its brief. (Barnett's Brief, Dkt. 46).
contends that it is not necessary to file either the Claims
Chart or the Modification Timeline because they are not
relevant to Plaintiff s claims and, in the alternative, the
Claims Chart is unduly prejudicial. (Id. at pp.
4-5). According to Barnett, the chart "identifies each
and every individual ever to have made a claim" of an
incident involving a Barnett crossbow, "including those
who did so confidentially to the U.S. Consumer Products
Safety Commission." (Id. at p. 4). While
Barnett contends that there are no means other than sealing
available because "simply redacting the names does not
remove the confidential nature of the Chart, " it did
not offer further explanation. (Motion to Seal, Dkt. 45 at p.
9). As for the Modification Timeline, Barnett asserts that it
should be sealed because it "was created by Barnett
engineers to detail each engineering change to the various
crossbow models over time" and it "contains
information that is sensitive to Barnett, as its disclosure
would provide detailed engineering information to
Barnett's competitors." (Barnett's Brief, Dkt.
46 at p. 5). Barnett argues that the timeline "is not
the type of document that would be subject to redaction"
because "all content on the Timeline is
proprietary." (Motion to Seal, Dkt. 45 at p. 9).
courts have the inherent authority and discretion to seal
records, Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns, Inc., 435
U.S. 589, 598-99 (1978). Decisions on motions to seal must
balance the public's common law right of access against
the interests favoring confidentiality. See Id. at
597-99. The common law right of access is implicated by any
pretrial motion that requires judicial resolution of the
merits, including summary judgment motions, and can be
overcome only by a showing of "good cause."
Chicago Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.,
263 F.3d 1304, 1311-13 (11th Cir. 2001) (per
"good cause" standard requires the trial court to
"balance the respective interests." Id. at
1313. Whether good cause exists depends on the nature and
character of the information in question. Romero,
480 F.3d at 1246. In balancing the public interest in access
to court documents against a party's interest in keeping
the information confidential, courts consider
whether allowing access would impair court functions or harm
legitimate privacy interests, the degree of and likelihood of
injury if made public, the reliability of the information,
whether there will be an opportunity to respond to the
information, whether the information concerns public
officials or public concerns, and the availability of a less
onerous alternative to sealing the documents.
Id. (citations omitted).
Local Rules for the Middle District of Florida also prescribe
the contents of a motion to seal. The movant must include:
(i) an identification and description of each item proposed
for sealing; (ii) the reason that filing each item is
necessary; (iii) the reason that sealing each item is
necessary; (iv) the reason that a means other than sealing is
unavailable or unsatisfactory to preserve the interest
advanced by the movant in support of the seal; (v) a
statement of the proposed duration of the seal; and (vi) a
memorandum of legal authority supporting the seal.
M.D. Fla. Local Rule 1.09(a).
parties have not established good cause to seal the Claims
Chart. Despite Barnett's arguments to the contrary, the
chart's listing of every known incident involving a
Barnett crossbow is relevant to its motion for summary
judgment. Barnett moves for summary judgment on Plaintiffs
punitive damages claim that requires him to show that it
engaged in intentional misconduct or gross negligence.
(Barnett's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, Dkt. 26
at p. 13) (citing Southstar Equity, LLC v, Lai Chau,
998 So.2d 625, 632 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2008)). A chart
showing a history of injuries caused by Barnett's
crossbows is not so clearly irrelevant to Plaintiffs punitive
damages claim that he should be barred from filing it in
support of his opposition to Barnett's motion. See
Toyota Motor Co. v. Moll, 438 So.2d 192, 194 (Fla. Dist.
Ct. App. 1983) (holding that punitive damages are allowed
where a defendant has knowledge of a defect or dangerous
condition and chose not to remedy the condition).
Accordingly, Plaintiff sufficiently establishes the need for
filing the Claims Chart in support of his
party shows why a means other than sealing is insufficient to
protect the information within the chart. The only sensitive
information identified by Barnett is the identity of each
individual who reported an incident with a Barnett crossbow.
(Barnett's Brief, Dkt. 46 at pp. 3-4). Barnett's only
explanation for why redaction is insufficient is that
redaction does not remove the confidential nature of the