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Fazzio v. Standard Examiner

United States District Court, D. Utah, Northern Division

May 23, 2018

SHERRIE FAZZIO et al., Plaintiff,
v.
STANDARD EXAMINER, et al., Defendants

          ORDER

          Dustin B. Pead, United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter was referred to the Court under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). (ECF No. 12.) The matter is presently before the court on Plaintiffs' request for leave to file their Motion for Summary Judgment and accompanying exhibits under seal. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' “Ex Parte Motion for Leave to File Under Seal.” (ECF No. 47.)

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Supreme Court has explained that “the courts of this country recognize 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) (footnote omitted). “This right is premised upon the recognition that public monitoring of the courts fosters important values such as respect for the legal system.” Vega v. Wiley, No. 07-1357, 2007 WL 4287730, at *1 (D. Colo. Dec. 5, 2007) (citing In re Providence Journal Co., 293 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir.2002)). In recognition of this right of access, the District of Utah's Civil Rules state: “The records of the court are presumptively open to the public [and sealing court documents] is highly discouraged.” D.U. Civ. R. 5-3(a)(1). “To overcome this presumption against sealing, the party seeking to seal records ‘must articulate a real and substantial interest that justifies depriving the public of access to the records that inform our decision-making process.'” JetAway Aviation, LLC v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs of Cty. of Montrose, Colo., 754 F.3d 824, 826 (10th Cir. 2014). A party seeking to seal information bears a “heavy burden.” Id. at 827.

         II. PARTIES' ARGUMENTS

         Plaintiffs contend the information in their Motion for Summary Judgment and the exhibits filed in support of that motion should be sealed because the materials contain records of juvenile proceedings, which are statutorily protected. (ECF No. 47 at 4). Plaintiffs also argue that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires the court to seal any educational information. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiffs claim the “United States Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional protection of personal health information.” (Id. at 5).

         Defendant Acucom contends Plaintiffs have failed to overcome the strong presumption against sealing court records. (ECF No. 50). Acucom also argues the court should refrain from sealing Plaintiffs' documents because Plaintiffs failed to keep some of the information at issue private. (Id. at 2-3)

         III. ANALYSIS

         a. The court will deny Plaintiffs' request to seal their entire Motion for Summary Judgment and all supporting exhibits because the request is overbroad.

         In an attempt to abandon the District of Utah's local rules, Plaintiffs ask the court to seal the entirety of their Motion for Summary Judgment and all attached materials. The first requirement in District of Utah Civil Rule 5-3 for motions to seal is that such motions “be narrowly tailored to seek protection of only the specific information that the party alleges is truly deserving of protection.” D.U. Civ. R. 5-3(b)(2)(A). The court rejects Plaintiff's blanket request to seal because it is entirely overbroad. The Motion for Summary Judgment, and many exhibits, contains entirely mundane information not deserving of protection. For example, much of the “legal argument” section of Plaintiffs' memorandum contains discussion of the law and generalized discussion of the circumstances of this case. See (ECF No. 47 at 13-30). Indeed, Plaintiffs do not identify a single word in their legal argument that should be redacted in the event the court adopts their alternative request to seal only portions of the memorandum. Also, some exhibits appear to be website printouts that contain no information related to Plaintiff. See, e.g., (ECF No. 47, Ex. 4). Thus, the court declines Plaintiffs' blanket request to seal.

         b. The court will grant in part and deny in party Plaintiffs' request to seal portions of their Motion for Summary Judgment and exhibits individually

         1. Exhibits 1, 2, 5-7, 10, 12, 13, and 15-24 must be redacted

         Exhibits 1, 2, 5-7, 10, 12, 13, and 15-24 will remain sealed temporarily, but Plaintiffs must file copies of these exhibits on the public docket with I.F.'s birthdate, photograph, and all minors' names redacted. Rule 5.2 provides that a minor's name and any individual's date of birth are protectable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.2(a).[1] Yet Rule 5.2 and the District of Utah's Civil Rules provide for a balanced approach that respects the open nature of courts. When protectable information is not directly pertinent to issues before the court, counsel should redact it. See D.U. Civ. R. 5-3(a)(2)(B) & (C). Further, even when a document contains protectable information that is pertinent to the legal issues before the court, counsel must file a copy of the document with the protectable information redacted, even if an unredacted copy is filed. See D.U. Civ. R. 5-3(a)(2)(D). Counsel has not even attempted to comply with this requirement. Accordingly, counsel must redact each instance of I.F.'s birthdate, photograph, and all minors' names from Exhibits 1, 2, 5-7, 10, 12, 13, and 15-24 and then file redacted copies of those exhibits on the public docket. Failure to file redacted copies within fourteen days will result in the court unsealing these exhibits without further notice.

         2. The court will not seal Plaintiffs' brief in support of their motion for summary judgment and the unredacted ...


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