United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. SMITH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Seal Portions
of Defendant's Declaration and Exhibits to be Filed in
Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification
(Doc. 35). Plaintiff does not oppose the motion (Doc. 40).
For the foregoing reasons, the motion is granted in
part and denied in part.
a putative class action for violation of the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et
seq. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff alleges that she and other
similarly situated persons were the recipients of so-called
“robocalls” made using an automatic telephone
dialing system in an attempt by Defendant to collect consumer
debts (Id., ¶¶ 17, 28). Defendant contends
that it does not belong in this case and that the proper
defendant is FDS Bank (Doc. 11, n. 1). FDS Bank does not have
a Macy's account for Plaintiff (Doc. 36-1, ¶15).
But, it does have an account for Plaintiff's mother,
Ronda Mercer and collection calls were made to her
(Id., ¶¶ 15, 31). When Ms. Mercer asked
FDS Bank to stop calling her number, the Bank allegedly
complied (Id., ¶ 31). In addition to its claim
that it is not a proper party to this action, Defendant has
filed a motion to dismiss in which it argues that Plaintiff
lacks standing because she has failed to allege any
injury-in-fact that is traceable to Defendant's alleged
conduct (Id., at 2-3). The Court has the motion
has filed a motion for class certification (Doc. 25), and
Defendant has submitted a response which includes the
redacted Declaration of Daniel Delgado (Docs. 34, 36).
Defendant seeks leave of Court to file the unredacted Delgado
declaration under seal (Doc. 35). As grounds, it represents
that “[p]ortions of the Declaration relate[ ] to highly
sensitive business and proprietary data policies and
procedures, including internal policies and procedures
relating to debt collection.” (Id., at 2). The
declaration also contains “the account records and
financial information of a third party, Ronda Mercer.”
(Id.). Due to the nature of this information,
Defendant argues that “[t]here is undoubtedly good
cause to seal this competitively sensitive information that,
if publicly disclosed, would threaten to undermine
Defendant's competitive advantages in the debt collection
and account management and strategy arenas, as well as
disclose the financial information of a third party.”
motion to seal does not sufficiently identify and describe
the information Defendant is asking be sealed (Doc. 37).
Therefore, the Court directed Defendant to file all of the
materials it wants sealed for in camera review
(Id.). Defendant has complied and the Court has
examined all of the papers submitted by Defendant.
filing of documents under seal is disfavored by the
Court.” Graphic Packaging Int'l, Inc. v. C.W.
Zumbiel Co., No. 3:10-cv-891-J-JBT, 2010 WL 6790538, at
*1 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 28, 2010). While the parties to a lawsuit
“have protectable privacy interests in confidential
information disclosed through discovery, ” once the
information becomes a judicial record or public document, the
public has a common-law right to inspect and copy the
information. In re Alexander Grant & Co. Litig.,
820 F.2d 352, 355 (11th Cir. 1987). “Once a matter is
brought before a court for resolution, it is no longer solely
the parties' case, but also the public's case.”
Brown v. Advantage Eng'g, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013,
(11th Cir. 1992); Patent Asset Licensing, LLC v.
Wideopenwest Fin., LLC, No. 3:15-cv-743-J-32MCR, 2016 WL
2991058, at *1 (M.D. Fla. May 24, 2016). “[I]t is the
rights of the public, an absent third party, which are
preserved by prohibiting closure of public records, unless
unusual circumstances exist.” Wilson v. Am. Motors
Corp., 759 F.2d 1568, 1570 (11th Cir. 1985).
filed in connection with any substantive pretrial motion,
unrelated to discovery, is subject to the common law right of
access.” Romero v. Drummond Co., Inc., 480
F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007). “A substantive
pretrial motion is ‘[a] motion that is presented to the
court to invoke its powers or affect its decisions, whether
or not characterized as dispositive, [and it] is subject to
the public right of access.” Id. at 1246
(quotation marks and citation omitted).
judge is the primary representative of the public interest in
the judicial process and is duty-bound therefore to review
any request to seal the record (or part of it). He may not
rubber stamp a stipulation to seal the record.”
Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS,
Inc., 184 F.Supp.2d 1353, 1363 (N.D.Ga. Feb. 15, 2002)
(quoting Citizens First Nat'l Bank of Princeton v.
Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d 943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999)).
“The right to inspect and copy is not absolute,
however, and a judge's exercise of discretion in deciding
whether to release judicial records should be informed by a
sensitive appreciation of the circumstances that led to the
production of the particular document in question.”
Chemence Med. Prods., Inc. v. Medline Indus., No.
1:13-CV-500-TWT, 2015 WL 149984, at *1 (N.D.Ga. Jan. 12,
public's right of access may be overcome by a showing of
“good cause” sufficient for the granting of a
protective order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) (“The
court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party
or person form annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue
burden or expense …”). “'Good
cause' is a well established legal phrase. Although
difficult to define in absolute terms, it generally signifies
a sound basis or legitimate need to take judicial
action.” In re Alexander Grant, 820 F.2d at
Eleventh Circuit has “superimposed a somewhat more
demanding balancing or interests approach to the” good
cause requirement in Rule 26(c). Farnsworth v. Procter
& Gamble Co., 758 F.2d 1545, 1547 (11th Cir. 1985).
This means that before making its decision, the court has a
duty to balance the public's right of access against the
party's interest in confidentiality. “In balancing
the public interest in accessing court documents against a
party's interest in keeping the information confidential,
courts consider, among other facts, 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.” Romero, 480 F.3d at 1246
motion for class certification is a ...