United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
W. FLANAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on plaintiff's response to
court order dated September 29, 2017, which the court
construes as including a motion for reconsideration brought
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). (DE 108). Also
before the court is response of defendant United States of
America (“United States”) to the court's
September 29, 2017, order (DE 107), and plaintiff's
motion to seal (DE 103). In this posture, the issues raised
are ripe for ruling. For the reasons that follow, the court
grants in part and denies in part plaintiff's motion for
reconsideration and motion to seal.
court refers to and incorporates statements of the case and
facts provided in its previous orders. Pertinent here,
plaintiff, proceeding pro se, initiated this action
on February 22, 2016 against the United States, Guardian Hart
Medical Care (“Guardian”), Tracy Naylor
(“Naylor”), Ginger Hunsuker
(“Hunsucker”), Kathy Reed (“Reed”),
Venkata G. Booduluri (“Booduluri”), Massey Hill
Drug Company, Inc. (“MHDC”), Massey Hill
Pharmacy, LLC (“MHP”), and Jonna Squires
asserted a claim for negligence against the United States
under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28
U.S.C. § 2671 et seq. for its alleged failure
to provide plaintiff medical care at a Veterans Health
Administration (“VHA”) facility. Plaintiff also
asserted common law breach of contract and conspiracy claims
against defendant Guardian. Plaintiff asserted various
conspiracy claims against the remaining
September 13, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for entry of
default against defendant Guardian. Pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 55(a), the court granted that motion on
November 23, 2016.
October 4, 2016, the United States filed a motion for summary
judgment against plaintiff on the basis that plaintiff's
claim was time-barred, or in the alternative, without merit.
Prior to filing response to the United States's motion
for summary judgment, plaintiff filed a number of motions,
including three motions to stay, a motion for subpoenas, and
a motion for default judgment, or alternatively a motion for
partial summary judgment against the United
order dated May 4, 2017, the court denied plaintiff's
third motion to stay, and directed plaintiff to file any
further response to the United States's motion for
summary judgment, beyond the scope of her motion for
subpoenas and motion for default judgment by May 14, 2017.
Over the United States's objection, the court ultimately
extended plaintiff's response time to May 30, 2017.
30, 2017, plaintiff filed a second motion for partial summary
judgment, alternatively motion for default judgment against
the United States, with several exhibits attached thereto.
That same date, plaintiff filed response to the United
States's motion for summary judgment. On June 12, 2017,
plaintiff filed a third motion for summary judgment against
the United States.
13, 2017, the United States filed a motion to strike several
of plaintiff's filings.Thereafter plaintiff filed two
separate motions for judgment on the pleadings against the
United States (DE 86, 88), two motions for sanctions against
the United States (DE 89, 100), a motion for default judgment
against defendant Guardian (DE 102), a motion for recusal (DE
104), and a motion for protective order (DE 105). On
September 11, 2017, plaintiff filed the instant motion to
seal. (DE 103).
September 29, 2017, the court entered an order denying
plaintiff's various dispositive motions against the
United States and granting the United States's motion for
summary judgment. (DE 106). The court also denied as moot
plaintiff's motion for subpoenas, plaintiff's motion
for protective order, and the United States's motion to
strike. With regard to defendant Guardian, the court set
aside its prior entry of default and denied plaintiff's
motion for default judgment on the basis that plaintiff
failed to allege sufficient facts to establish claims for
breach of contract and civil conspiracy against defendant
Guardian. The court's order did not specifically address
plaintiff's motion to seal.
court's September 29, 2017, order also provided two
directives to the parties. First, where the order relied upon
sealed documents, the court directed the parties to jointly
submit to the court a copy of its order marked to reflect any
perceived necessary redactions. Upon the court's
inspection and approval, a redacted copy of the sealed order
would be made part of the public record. Second, where
plaintiff failed to effect service upon defendants Naylor,
Hunsuker, Reed, Booduluri, MHDC, MHP, and Squires (together,
the “unserved defendants”), the court directed
plaintiff to show cause within 21 days why the court should
not dismiss her case against the unserved defendants for
failure to perfect service. The court indicated that failure
by plaintiff to show cause within the appropriate time would
result in dismissal without prejudice against the unserved
October 13, 2017, plaintiff filed the instant response to the
court's September 29, 2017 order, with a proposed
redacted copy of the court's order attached thereto.
Where plaintiff's response and proposed redactions
consist of objections to the court's September 29, 2017,
order, the court construes plaintiff's response as a
motion for reconsideration. Pursuant to the court's
directive, the United States filed response to the
court's September 29, 2017, order on October 16, 2017.
Where the court's sealed September 29, 2017, order does
not reference any confidential medical information not
already available on the public record, the United States
contends that no text in the order should remain under seal.
Motion to Seal
seeks to seal several exhibits which are attached to her
motion for default judgment against defendant Guardian.
(See DE 102-2; 102-3; 102-4; 102-6; 102-7; 102-8;
102-9; 102-10; 102-11; 102-12; 102-13; and 102-14).
examining the exhibits at issue, the court finds that those
exhibits consisting of plaintiff's medical records and
bills (DE 102-6; 102-7; 102-8; 102-9; 102-10; 102-11; 102-13;
and 102-14) contain confidential information about
plaintiff's medical condition and treatment. Accordingly,
to the extent plaintiff seeks to seal the medical records and