United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
Reidinger, United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court upon the
Plaintiff's Motion to Seal [Doc. 44].
Plaintiff moves for leave to file under seal certain
materials submitted by the Plaintiff in opposition to the
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Specifically,
the Plaintiff moves for leave to file under seal: (1) three
pages from her personal medical records, which are attached
to her response as Exhibits 36, 37, and 38 [Doc. 45]; and (2)
the entire deposition transcript of the Defendant James E.
O'Keefe, III [Doc. 46]. The Plaintiff further indicates
that the Defendants consent to the Plaintiff's motion to
seal. [Doc. 44]. The Defendants, however, have filed a
response to the Plaintiff's motion to seal, arguing that
the filing of the entire deposition transcript violates the
Local Rules and, further, that that the deposition pages
cited by the Plaintiff are already in the public docket.
[Doc. 53]. The Plaintiff has a filed a reply, arguing that
the full transcript provides “needed context.”
[Doc. 55 at 2].
press and the public have, under both the First Amendment and
the common law, a qualified right of access to judicial
documents and records filed in civil and criminal
proceedings. Doe v. Public Citizen, 749 F.3d 246,
265 (4th Cir. 2014). “The common-law presumptive right
of access extends to all judicial documents and records, and
the presumption can be rebutted only by showing that
‘countervailing interests heavily outweigh the public
interests in access.'” Id. at 265-66
(quoting in part Rushford v. New Yorker Magazine,
Inc., 846 F.2d 249, 253 (4th Cir. 1988)). The First
Amendment right of access “may be restricted only if
closure is ‘necessitated by a compelling government
interest' and the denial of access is ‘narrowly
tailored to serve that interest.'” Id. at
266 (quoting in part In re Wash. Post Co., 807 F.2d
383, 390 (4th Cir. 1986)).
presented with a motion to seal, the law of this Circuit
requires this Court to: “(1) provide public notice of
the request to seal and allow interested parties a reasonable
opportunity to object, (2) consider less drastic alternatives
to sealing the documents, and (3) provide specific reasons
and factual findings supporting its decision to seal the
documents and for rejecting the alternatives.”
Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 218 F.3d 288, 302 (4th
present case, the public has been provided with adequate
notice and an opportunity to object to the Plaintiff's
motion. The Plaintiff filed her motion on January 22, 2019,
and it has been accessible to the public through the
Court's electronic case filing system since that time.
respect to Exhibits 36, 37, and 38, the Plaintiff has
demonstrated that these exhibits reference the
Plaintiff's protected health information, and that the
public's right of access to such information is
substantially outweighed by the compelling interest in
protecting the details of such information from public
disclosure. Having considered less drastic
alternatives to sealing the documents, the Court concludes
that sealing of these exhibits is narrowly tailored to serve
the interest of protecting the confidential and sensitive
nature of these materials.
respect to Defendant O'Keefe's deposition, the
Plaintiff's filing violates Local Civil Rule 26.2, which
provides that materials filed in support of a motion or
response thereto “shall be limited to those portions of
the material directly necessary to support or oppose the
motion….” LCvR 26.2. The Court further notes
that the portions of the O'Keefe transcript that the
Plaintiff cites in her brief are already included on the
public docket. [See Doc. 43-3]. While the
Plaintiff argues that the entire deposition is necessary for
“context, ” the Court notes that the parties have
already filed over 1, 100 pages of exhibits in support of
their summary judgment briefs. The Court requires no further
context from the parties.
these reasons, the Plaintiff's filing of the entire
O'Keefe deposition transcript is stricken. With the
transcript stricken, the Plaintiff's motion to seal this
particular exhibit is moot.
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that the Plaintiff's
Motion to Seal [Doc. 44] is GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART. Specifically, Exhibits
36, 37, and 38 [Doc. 45] to the Plaintiff's Response to
the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment shall be
filed under seal until further Order of this Court. The
Plaintiffs request to seal the deposition of Defendant
O'Keefe is DENIED AS MOOT, and the
O'Keefe deposition [Doc. 46] is hereby
STRICKEN from the record.
IS SO ORDERED.
 The Plaintiff does not explain why the
filing of this confidential information is necessary to
oppose the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
Nevertheless, in light of their confidential nature, the
Court will allow these documents to be sealed, at least at
the summary judgment stage of these proceedings. The
Plaintiff is advised, however, that if this information forms
a material basis for the relief she seeks from ...