United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's “Notice
of Voluntary Dismissal of False Claims Act Claim Without
Prejudice and Unopposed Motion to Seal Portions of Original
Complaint.” (Doc. No. 13). For the reasons stated
below, this action will be DISMISSED and Plaintiff's
Motion to Seal will be GRANTED.
Dismissal of the Case
case was brought as a qui tam action under the False
Claims Act. (Doc. No. 2). Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. §
3730(b)(1), a private party may bring a civil action under
the False Claims Act on behalf of the United States
Government. 31 U.S.C. § 3730(b)(1) (2018). Once such a
claim is brought, “the action may be dismissed only if
the court and the Attorney General give written consent to
the dismissal and their reasons for consenting.”
Id.; see also United States v. King Pharm.,
806 F.Supp.2d 833, 844 (D. Md. 2011) (stating that notices of
voluntary dismissals of qui tam actions are not self
executing). In the present action, parties have consented to
voluntary dismissal, (see generally Doc. Nos. 13,
15); thus, the Court hereby dismisses the qui tam
action without prejudice.
Motions to Seal
has also made a motion to keep portions of the case
permanently under seal. In evaluating motions to seal or
unseal, the Fourth Circuit has stated that “the
presumption in favor of public disclosure of court records
can only be overcome by a significant countervailing
interest.” Under Seal v. Under Seal, 326 F.3d
479, 486 (4th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff contends that because the Complaint has information
about Medicare claims, beneficiary numbers, claim
identification numbers, age, race, gender, place of
treatment, and patient diagnoses, it may be possible to use
information in the Complaint to identify specific patients.
(Doc. No. 13, p. 3). To balance the public's right to
review documents with patients' privacy interests,
Plaintiff seeks to substitute the Complaint with a redacted
version. The Court finds Plaintiff's arguments persuasive
and hereby unseals the case in its entirety with the
exception of the proposed redactions to the
complaint. See United States., ex rel. Rostholder
v. Omnicare, Inc., 799 F.Supp.2d 547, 549 (D. Md. 2011)
(stating that courts have prevented the disclosure of
sensitive information which could injure non-parties to the
action); see also Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1138 (9th Cir. 2003) (ordering the
redaction of identifying information from third party medical
Government has further requested that its applications for
extensions of time remain under seal because the filings were
presented “for the sole purpose of evaluating whether
the seal and time for making an election to intervene should
be extended.” (Doc. No. 15, p. 2). This request was not
made in a separately captioned motion, but rather in the
Government's “Consent to Voluntary
Dismissal.” Id In a written order dated May 3,
2019, the Court noted that the Government's request was
not properly before the Court as a separate motion to seal
with supporting statutes, caselaw, or other authority. (Doc.
No. 16, p. 1). In this order, the Court gave the Government
fourteen days to make a formal motion for sealing in
conformity with the Local Rules and the Court's Standing
Orders. (Doc. No. 16, p. 2). No. subsequent motion was made.
Therefore, the Court does not find a basis to maintain a seal
on any additional documents.
reasons stated above, this case is hereby DISMISSED WITHOUT
PREJUDICE. Plaintiffs Motion to Seal the Case, (Doc. No. 13),
is GRANTED and the Court hereby ORDERS that the case be
unsealed in its entirety, with the exception that Plaintiff s
complaint, (Doc. No. 2), will be replaced with a redacted
version, (Doc. No. 13-1), pursuant to Rule 5.2(d) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
 The Court notes that the Government
does not oppose such redactions. (See Doc. No. 15,