United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Plaintiffs' Motion to
Seal Unredacted Statement of Fees and Certain Exhibits [DE
208], filed by Plaintiffs on April 18, 2017.
April 4, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied without
prejudice in part a motion to compel filed by Plaintiffs.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5), the
Court awarded Plaintiffs two-thirds of the reasonable
expenses they incurred in bringing the Motion to Compel and
ordered Plaintiffs to file a verified statement of reasonable
April 18, 2017, Plaintiffs filed openly on the docket a
redacted Plaintiffs' Statement of Expenses for September
22, 2016 Motion to Compel [DE 209] and instant Motion to Seal
and filed under seal an unredacted Plaintiffs' Statement
of Expenses for September 22, 2016 Motion to Compel [DE 210].
Attached to the unredacted version are six exhibits, also
under seal: five partially redacted invoices and a
spreadsheet of expenses for the Motion to Compel. Three
additional exhibits were filed openly at docket entry 211.
District of Indiana Local Rule 5-3 provides that “[t]he
clerk may not maintain a filing under seal unless authorized
to do so by statute, court rule, or court order.” N.D.
Ind. L.R. 5-3(a). The general presumption is that judicial
records are public, but this can be overridden when
“the property and privacy interests of the litigants .
. . predominate in the particular case.” Citizens
First Nat'l Bank v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 178 F.3d
943, 945 (7th Cir. 1999). The bar is quite high: “[a]ny
step that withdraws an element of the judicial process from
public view makes the ensuing decision look more like fiat;
this requires rigorous justification” by the Court.
In re Krynicki, 983 F.2d 74, 75 (7th Cir. 1992). A
motion to file documents under seal must justify the claim of
secrecy, analyzing the applicable legal criteria. See
Citizens First, 178 F.3d at 945. Further, and
notwithstanding the parties' agreement, the decision of
whether good cause exists to file a document under seal rests
solely with the Court. Id. (“The determination
of good cause cannot be elided by allowing the parties to
seal whatever they want, for then the interest in publicity
will go unprotected unless the media are interested in the
case and move to unseal.”).
support of their Motion to Seal, Plaintiffs state that the
hourly rates of their counsel is not generally known to the
public and that Plaintiffs' counsel seeks to avoid the
disclosure of such information. Plaintiffs cite to this
Court's Opinion in Order in Swarthout v. Tyla
Teleservices, Inc., which stated that good cause for
sealing documents “may exist if the documents are
sealed in order to maintain the confidentiality of trade
secrets, privileged information, including documents covered
by the attorney-client privilege, and other non-public
financial and business information.” No. 4:11-cv-21,
2012 WL 5361756, *2 (N.D. Ind. Oct. 30, 2012) (citing
Baxter Int'l v. Abbott Lab., 297 F.3d 544, 546
(7th Cir. 2002); Metavante Corp. v. Emigrant Sav.
Bank, No. 05-CV-1221, 2008 WL 4722336, at *9-10
(E.D.Wis. Oct. 24, 2008)). Plaintiffs provide no argument
that Swarthout is factually similar, and indeed
Swarthout does not support a finding of good cause
for sealing the hourly rates of Plaintiffs' counsel here.
Swarthout, the parties wished to file under seal
various documents related to a proposed settlement agreement
for which they were seeking Court approval and an Unopposed
Motion for Attorneys' Fees and its accompanying
paperwork. This Court specifically noted in that case that
none of the cases cited by the parties allowed for the filing
under seal of the motion for attorney fees and its supporting
documentation. The Court ultimately permitted the redaction
of certain dollar amounts on the basis that they were tied to
the confidential settlement amount and thus could enable an
approximate calculation of the amount. The amounts that
Plaintiffs seek to redact in the instant matter bear no
relation to a confidential settlement amount.
factually similar is Gracia v. SigmaTron Int'l,
Inc., No. 11 C 07604, 2016 WL 6892861 (N.D. Ill. Nov.
23, 2016). In Gracia, a party sought to have sealed
a document that revealed the number of a law firm's
attorneys that represented the party, those attorneys'
hourly rates, and the fees that the party had paid the law
firm for its defense of the litigation. Id. at *9.
The Gracia court denied the motion because the party
did not cite any authority that supported keeping the
information under seal and because the information was
pertinent to the underlying fee request.Id.
have not justified their request for maintaining the
unredacted Statement of Expenses and its accompanying
exhibits under seal. Good cause to grant the Motion has not
on the foregoing, the Court hereby DENIES the Plaintiffs'
Motion to Seal Unredacted Statement of Fees and Certain
Exhibits [DE 208]. The Court STRIKES the Plaintiffs'
Statement of Expenses for September 22, 2016 Motion to Compel
[DE 210]. The Court GRANTS LEAVE for Plaintiffs to file, on
or before April 24, 2017, an unredacted verified
statement of reasonable expenses, including attorneys fees,
incurred in making the Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel
Discovery [DE 123]. Invoices, if included as exhibits, may
redact billing entries for which an award is not sought. The
Court defers determination as to whether invoice entries for
which an award is sought may be partially redacted. The Court
ADVISES Plaintiffs that, if they do not file a verified
statement by the deadline, the Court will deem Plaintiffs to
have abandoned their request for reasonable expenses.
In Gracia, it was the opposing
party who was seeking fees. Though in the instant matter it
is the same party seeking fees as seeking to retain hourly
rates under seal, this difference only makes the argument
stronger here for not ...