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LaCrosse Furniture Co. v. Future Foam, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 11, 2017

LACROSSE FURNITURE CO., Plaintiff,
v.
FUTURE FOAM, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         LaCrosse Furniture Co. brings suit against Leggett & Platt, Inc. for violation of the Kansas Unfair Trade and Consumer Protection Act, K.S.A. § 50-101 et seq.[1] Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendant conspired to fix the price of polyurethane foam. See Pretrial Order (Doc. #64) filed December 19, 2016 at 3-8, 15. On December 14, 2012, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) transferred this case for consolidated proceedings in the United State District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Conditional Transfer Order (Doc. #5). On May 18, 2015, the transferee court remanded the case to this Court. Conditional Transfer Order (Doc. #6). This matter comes before the Court on Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion For Partial Summary Judgment And Accompanying Documents Under Seal (Doc. #68) filed January 24, 2017, Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion To Exclude Testimony And Expert Reports Of Dr. Orley Ashenfelter Under Seal (Doc. #70) filed January 24, 2017, Plaintiff LaCrosse Furniture Co.'s Motion For Leave To File Documents Under Seal (Doc. #73) filed February 8, 2017, Plaintiff LaCrosse Furniture Co.'s Motion For Leave To File Documents Under Seal (Doc. #75) filed February 14, 2017, Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Reply Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion To Exclude Testimony And Expert Reports Of Dr. Orley Ashenfelter Under Seal (Doc. #77) filed February 21, 2017 and Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Reply Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion For Partial Summary Judgment And Accompanying Documents Under Seal (Doc. #78) filed February 28, 2017.

         Legal Standards

         Federal courts have long recognized a common law right of access to judicial records. Helm v. Kansas, 656 F.3d 1277, 1292 (10th Cir. 2011); Mann v. Boatright, 477 F.3d 1140, 1149 (10th Cir. 2007). This right derives from the public's interest in understanding disputes that are presented to a public forum for resolution and is intended to ensure that courts are fair and judges are honest. Crystal Grower's Corp. v. Dobbins, 616 F.2d 458, 461 (10th Cir. 1980); Worford v. City of Topeka, No. 03-2450-JWL-DJW, 2004 WL 316073, at *1 (D. Kan. Feb. 17, 2004). The public's right of access, however, is not absolute. Helm, 656 F.3d at 1292. The Court therefore has discretion to seal documents if competing interests outweigh the public's right of access. Id.; United States v. Hickey, 767 F.2d 705, 708 (10th Cir. 1985). In exercising its discretion, the Court weighs the public's interests, which it presumes are paramount, against those advanced by the parties. Helm, 656 F.3d at 1292; Dobbins, 616 F.2d at 461. The party seeking to overcome the presumption of public access to the documents bears the burden of showing that some significant interest outweighs the presumption. Helm, 656 F.3d at 1292; Mann, 477 F.3d at 1149. The Court should seal documents based only on articulable facts known to the Court, and not based on unsupported hypothesis or conjecture. Worford, 2004 WL 316073, at *1 (citing Stapp v. Overnite Transp. Co., No. 96-2320-GTV, 1998 WL 229538, at *1 (D. Kan. April 10, 1998)).

         Analysis

         Both parties seek leave to file under seal certain memoranda and exhibits in support of - and in opposition to - defendant's motions for partial summary judgment and to exclude expert testimony. See Docs. ##68, 69, 70, 73, 75, 77, 78. In support of their requests, the parties assert that the proposed memoranda and exhibits “include excerpts from and references to deposition testimony, expert reports, and documents” which the parties designated as “Confidential” or “Highly Confidential” under the stipulated protective order.[2] Doc. #68 at 1-2; see also Docs. ##69, 70, 73, 75, 77, 78. The fact that the parties have designated documents as “Confidential” or “Highly Confidential” under the protective order does not in itself provide sufficient reason to seal. See Stormont-Vail Healthcare, Inc. v. BioMedix Vascular Solutions, Inc., No. 11-4093-SAC, 2012 WL 884926, at *1 (D. Kan. Mar. 14, 2012); Carefusion 213, LLC v. Prof'l Disposables, Inc., No. 09-2616-KHV, 2010 WL 2653643, at *1 (D. Kan. June 29, 2010). On this record, the parties have not come close to meeting the heavy burden to articulate a real and substantial interest which justifies depriving the public access to records which inform the Court's decision-making process.[3] See Helm, 656 F.3d at 1292. The Court therefore overrules the parties' motions to file documents under seal. On or before April 17, 2017, the parties may file the proposed memoranda and exhibits not under seal.

         IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion For Partial Summary Judgment And Accompanying Documents Under Seal (Doc. #68) filed January 24, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion To Exclude Testimony And Expert Reports Of Dr. Orley Ashenfelter Under Seal (Doc. #70) filed January 24, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff LaCrosse Furniture Co.'s Motion For Leave To File Documents Under Seal (Doc. #73) filed February 8, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff LaCrosse Furniture Co.'s Motion For Leave To File Documents Under Seal (Doc. #75) filed February 14, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Reply Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion To Exclude Testimony And Expert Reports Of Dr. Orley Ashenfelter Under Seal (Doc. #77) filed February 21, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Leggett & Platt, Incorporated's Motion For Leave To File Its Reply Memorandum In Support Of Its Motion For Partial Summary Judgment And Accompanying Documents Under Seal (Doc. #78) filed February 28, 2017 is OVERRULED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that on or before April 17, 2017, the parties may file the proposed memoranda and exhibits not under seal.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's claims against Valle Foam Industries (1995), ...


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