United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division
JOHN ROBERTSON, individually and derivatively on behalf of CSX CORP., Plaintiff,
DONNA M. ALVARADO, et al., Defendants, and CSX CORP, a Virginia Corporation, Nominal Defendant.
C. RICHARDSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
to Seal Verified Shareholder Derivative Complaint
(“Motion”), filed April 13, 2018. The Motion
seeks leave, pursuant to Local Rule 1.09 and a
Confidentiality and Nondisclosure Agreement entered into
between the parties, to file under seal an unredacted version
of the Verified Shareholder Derivative Complaint
(“Complaint”), while a redacted version of the
Complaint is provided as an exhibit to the Motion.
(Id.) For the reasons stated herein, the Motion is
due to be GRANTED.
initial matter, whether documents may be filed under seal is
a separate issue from whether the parties may agree that the
documents are confidential because the public has “a
common-law right to inspect and copy judicial records and
public documents.” In re Alexander Grant & Co.
Litig., 820 F.2d 352, 355 (11th Cir. 1987) (per curiam).
Nevertheless, the public's right of access to judicial
records may be overcome by a showing of good cause by the
party seeking protection, which includes a balancing of
interests. See Chicago Tribune Co. v.
Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1313 (11th
Cir. 2001) (per curiam); see also Romero v. Drummond
Co., 480 F.3d 1234, 1245 (11th Cir. 2007). Good cause
“generally signifies a sound basis or legitimate need
to take judicial action.” In re Alexander, 820
F.2d at 356.
court finds that good cause exists, the court must balance
the interest in obtaining access to the information against
the interest in keeping the information confidential.
Chicago Tribune, 263 F.3d at 1313. In balancing
[C]ourts consider, among other factors, 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. Even in the absence of a
third party challenging the protection of information, the
court, as “the primary representative of the public
interest in the judicial process, ” is bound by duty
“to review any request to seal the record (or part of
it) [and] 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. 2002).
pursuant to Local Rule 1.09(a):
Unless filing under seal is authorized by statute, rule, or
order, 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. . . . Every
order sealing any item pursuant [to] this section shall state
the particular reason the seal is required.
M.D. Fla. R. 1.09(a).
Plaintiff has satisfied each of the above listed
requirements, the Court will allow him to file an unredacted
version of the Complaint under seal, with a redacted version
of the Complaint remaining on the public docket. The
Complaint contains non-public, commercially sensitive,
confidential, proprietary, and privileged information
regarding CSX, and means other than sealing are inadequate
because the confidential information contained in the
Complaint is central to Plaintiff's allegations and
necessary to adequately state a claim for relief. See
Patent Asset Licensing, LLC v. Bright House Networks,
LLC, Case No. 3:15-cv-742-J-32MCR, 2016 WL 2991057, *2
(M.D. Fla. May 24, 2016) (permitting a party to file
confidential business information under seal); Bastian v.
United Servs. Auto. Assoc, Case No.
3:13-cv-1454-J-32MCR, 2014 WL 6908430 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 8,
it is ORDERED:
Motion is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court shall
file under seal the unredacted version of the Complaint
provided by Plaintiff, which shall remain under seal for the
duration of this litigation or until further Order of the