United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Consent Motion to Seal Certain
Summary Judgment Evidence Designated as Confidential Pursuant
to Agreed Protective Order (Doc. 132). Plaintiff moves for an
order permitting it to file under seal the following exhibits
to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 130):
• Exhibit E. October 16, 2012 e-mail string between M.
Kaplan and Advanta attaching documents relating to IRA
• Exhibit F. October 12, 2012 e-mail between M. Kaplan
and Advanta discussing IRA restructuring;
• Exhibit H. October 9-16, 2012 e-mail string among M.
Kaplan, M. Kaplan's counsel, and Advanta discussing and
attaching documents relating to IRA restructuring
• Exhibit J. List of MIKA assets as of January 14, 2015
motion, Plaintiff contends that Exhibit J should be filed
under seal because it contains confidential financial
information. Plaintiff posits that filing Exhibits E, F and H
under seal is not justified, but is submitting the issue to
the Court because Defendants labeled these documents
“confidential” during discovery. (Doc. 132).
Therefore, the Court took the matter under advisement and
directed Plaintiff to forward the documents to the
undersigned for in camera review. (Doc. 136). In
addition, the Court invited Defendants to supplement the
record with any additional argument or support for their
position that these exhibits should be filed under seal.
(Id.). Thereafter, Plaintiff submitted the documents
for in camera review, and Defendants filed a
response to the motion. (Doc. 140). Essentially, Defendants
argue, in a general and conclusory fashion, that these
exhibits contain personal financial information and private
emails subject to protection under the Agreed Protective
Order entered in this action. (Id.).
initial matter, “[t]hough a stipulated protective order
may provide that documents designated as confidential are
presumptively protected, a party's calling a document
confidential pursuant to a protective order does not make it
so when it comes to filing the document with the
court.” Joao Bock Transaction Sys., LLC v. Fidelity
Nat. Info. Servs., Inc., Case No. 3:13-cv-223-J-32JRK,
2014 WL 279656, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 24, 2014); see also
Brown v. Advantage Eng'g, Inc., 960 F.2d 1013, 1016
(11th Cir. 1992) (holdings that the parties' agreement to
seal court documents “is immaterial” to the
public's right of access).
Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(d) allows a court to order a
filing be made under seal. As to the process by which a party
may request filings be under seal, Middle District of Florida
Local Rule 1.09(a) requires:
a party seeking to file under seal any paper or other matter
in any civil case shall file and serve a motion, the title of
which includes the words “Motion to Seal” and
which includes (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. The movant
shall not file or otherwise tender to the Clerk any item
proposed for sealing unless the Court has granted the motion
required by this section.
adherence to this Court's procedure for a party
requesting that documents be filed under seal is necessary
because“‘[t]he 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.'” Romero v. Drummond Co., Inc.,
480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Chicago
Tribune Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d
1304, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001)). “The common law right of
access may be overcome by a showing of good cause, which
requires ‘balanc[ing] the asserted right of access
against the other party's interest in keeping the
information confidential.'” Romero, 480
F.3d at 1246 (quoting Chicago Tribune Co., 263 F.3d
at 1309). As a case shifts from the discovery period to
adjudication on the merits by way of summary judgment motions
or trial, the Court's balancing of a party's right to
confidentiality of its records and the public's right of
access also shifts. Stated another way, although there is no
common law right to obtain discovery material, a party that
submits documents in connection with a motion for summary
judgment puts the information into the public domain and
triggers greater public right of access. Alvey v.
Gualtieri, No. 8:15-cv-1861-T-33MAP, 2016 WL 4129273, at
*2 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 3, 2016) (citing Diaz-Granados v.
Wright Med. Tech., Inc., No: 6:14-cv-1953-Orl-28TBS,
2016 WL 1090060, at *3 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 21, 2016)).
blanket assertion that the subject exhibits contain
confidential business or financial information is
insufficient to show good cause for sealing the filings.
Aldora Aluminum & Glass Prod., Inc. v. Poma Glass
& Specialty Windows, Inc., No. 3:14-CV-1402-J-34JBT,
2016 WL 7666128, at *2 (M.D. Fla. June 13, 2016).
Importantly, Defendants have failed to identify any injury
they will suffer if the information is made public.
Id. After reviewing the documents and the
parties' briefing, the Court concludes that Defendants
have not met their burden of providing the Court with good
cause sufficient to support that any of these four exhibits
should be filed under seal in contravention of the
public's right of access to court records.
and upon consideration, it is ORDERED that
Plaintiffs Consent Motion to Seal Certain Summary Judgment
Evidence Designated as Confidential Pursuant to Agreed
Protective Order (Doc. 132) is DENIED.