United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. Crabtree United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on defendant Global Industries,
Inc.'s Renewed Motion to Seal Docket Number 73-14 (Doc.
86), which is Exhibit N to Doc. 73. Plaintiff Sudenga
Industries, Inc. does not oppose the motion. For reasons
explained below, the court grants defendant's motion in
part and denies it in part.
court noted in its earlier order, the Supreme Court
recognizes a “general right to inspect and copy public
records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.” Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns,
Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978) (citations omitted). As a
result, “there is a ‘strong presumption in favor
of public access.'” United States v.
Pickard, 733 F.3d 1297, 1302 (10th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Mann v. Boatright, 477 F.3d 1140, 1149 (10th Cir.
2007)). That “strong presumption” is heightened
when the information subject to a seal or redaction request
(1) provides the basis for a court's adjudication of the
merits of the litigation; or (2) is disclosed in another form
or during a public proceeding. Id. at 1302, 1305;
see also Mann, 477 F.3d at 1149 (concluding
individual's privacy interest diminished where
information was previously disclosed in public court
right of public access to judicial records, however, is
‘not absolute' as ‘[e]very court has
supervisory power over its own records and files.'”
United States v. Walker, 761 Fed.Appx. 822, 835
(10th Cir. 2019) (quoting Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598).
The party seeking to deny access must shoulder the burden to
establish that a sufficiently significant interest
“heavily outweighs the public interest in
access.” Mann, 477 F.3d at 1149 (quoting
Rushford v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 846 F.2d 249,
253 (4th Cir. 1988)). And, “any denial of public access
to the record must be ‘narrowly tailored to
serve the interest' being protected by sealing or
restricting access to the records.” Walker,
761 Fed.Appx. at 835 (quoting Press-Enter. Co. v.
Superior Court of Cal., 478 U.S. 1, 12-13 (1986)).
a court orders documents before it sealed, the court
continues to have authority to enforce its order sealing
those documents, as well as authority to loosen or eliminate
any restrictions on the sealed documents.”
Pickard, 733 F.3d at 1300. And, even after a court
orders documents sealed, the party advocating for sealing
continues to bear the burden to justify the decision to seal.
Id. at 1302. Thus, to the extent the court grants
defendant's motion, the grant is subject to continuing
reexamination, particularly if any information sealed or
redacted by this Order proves important to the court's
resolution of the claims in the case.
defendant seeks leave to file under seal a document marked as
“Confidential” that reportedly contains
plaintiff's proprietary information. The document was
disclosed on the public docket on May 31, 2019, when
defendant filed it as Exhibit N to Doc. 73 (Doc. 73-14). But,
defendant represents, this public disclosure of Exhibit N was
inadvertent because defendant had not discerned that
plaintiff had designated Exhibit N as
“Confidential” under the Protective Order.
See Doc. 50 at 2-3. Defendant previously filed a
motion asking for leave to file Doc. 73-14 as a sealed
document. The court denied the request because Doc.
73-14's status as confidential under the Protective Order
does not provide a sufficient showing that the Exhibit
qualifies for a sealed filing. See Doc. 82 at 3-4.
current Motion now renews its request to file Doc. 73-14
under seal. Document 73-14 is a structural engineering
drawing of a Sudenga hopper minimal entry 16” discharge
assembly. It contains a detailed parts list, a shipping note,
dimensions of the hopper assembly, and figure showing some of
the assembly's components. Defendant's Renewed Motion
articulates assorted reasons to seal Doc. 73-14 from the
public record. Defendant argues Doc. 73-14 contains
“nonpublic detailed engineering information” and
“sensitive information that . . . may subject [Sudenga]
to competitive or financial injury if publicly
disclosed.” Doc. 86 at 4. Defendant also argues that
the confidential information within Doc. 73-14 does not
provide the basis for the court's adjudication of the
merits of the litigation. Also, plaintiff acknowledges that
only the figure reproduced in defendant's brief should
remain in the public record and it considers the remaining
information in Doc. 73-14 “confidential, proprietary,
and trade secret.” Doc. 86 at 5.
defendant's request is too broad. While Doc. 73-14
contains information that on its own may justify sealing the
document, it also contains the “exploded drawing”
that the parties concede is now part of the public record.
Doc. 86 at 5. Such a request is not “narrowly tailored
to serve the interest being protected” because it seeks
to seal, in addition to confidential information, information
already in the public record. See Walker, 761
Fed.Appx. at 835; Pickard, 733 F.3d. at 1302, 1305.
This court thus grants the current motion in part and denies
in part. Specifically:
(1) the clerk of the court must maintain Doc. 73-14 as a
sealed filing; and
(2) defendant must file a redacted version of Doc. 73-14 as a
separate, public (not sealed) docket entry, redacting all
information other than the exploded drawing included in
IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT defendant
Global Industries, Inc.'s Renewed Motion to Seal (Doc.
86) is granted in part and denied in part.