ADT HOLDINGS, INC., in its individual capacity and as attorney-in-fact for ZONOFF, INC, and ADT LLC, Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL HARRIS and RING INC, Defendants.
Submitted: September 19, 2017
L. Caponi, K&L GATES LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; Attorney
Ward Cascio, Lauren Neal Bennett, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT
& TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; Mark C. Scarsi,
Ashlee N. Lin, Katherine R. Pierucci, J. Samuel Payne,
MILBANK, TWEED, HADLEY & McCLOY LLP, Los Angeles,
California; Attorneys for Defendants.
D. Anderson, FISH & RICHARDSON P.C., Wilmington,
Delaware; Attorney for Nonparty Legrand Home Systems, Inc.
eve of trial, nonparty Legrand Home Systems, Inc.
("Legrand") moved to seal certain trial exhibits so
that they would not become part of the public trial record.
Legrand also sought to close the courtroom for any testimony
or attorney argument regarding the exhibits. Legrand claimed
this relief was necessary because the exhibits contained
sensitive, confidential information and that Legrand would
suffer irreparable harm if the information was made public.
The parties to the case did not oppose Legrand's motion.
The court, however, bears an independent obligation to
balance the harm Legrand claims it will suffer against the
public right of access, which is at its height during a
trial. Legrand's motion is denied.
public's right of access to judicial records has been
characterized as fundamental to a democratic
state." The right of access enables the public to
"judge the product of the courts in a given
case." This, in turn, "helps ensure
'quality, honesty and respect for our legal
system.'" Consequently, "all court proceedings
are presumptively open to the public."
of Chancery Rule 5.1 "reflects the Court of
Chancery's commitment to these
principles." It states that, "[e]xcept as
otherwise provided" in Rule 5.1, "proceedings in a
civil action are a matter of public
record." This language "makes clear that most
information presented to the Court should be made available
to the public."
5.1(b)(3) provides that a "party or person seeking to
obtain or maintain Confidential Treatment always bears the
burden of establishing good cause for Confidential
Treatment." Rule 5.1(b)(2) defines "good
cause" as follows:
For purposes of this Rule, "good cause" for
Confidential Treatment shall exist only if the public
interest in access to Court proceedings is outweighed by the
harm that public disclosure of sensitive, non-public
information would cause. Examples of categories of
information that may qualify as Confidential Information
include trade secrets; sensitive proprietary information;
sensitive financial, business, or personnel information;
sensitive personal information such as medical records; and
personally identifying information such as social security
numbers, financial account numbers, and the names of minor
determining whether good cause has been established, the
court must "balanc[e] ... the public interest against
the harm that public disclosure might entail with respect to
sensitive nonpublic information." The court will
not order confidential treatment "merely because
disclosure has the potential for collateral economic
consequences." Instead, the harm must be
fact that Legrand's motion is unopposed does not change
these standards. Although the parties to the case have not
opposed it, the motion seeks to overcome the public interest
in open trials. The real opposition is from the public.
Indeed, when considering such a motion, the court
"serves not only the litigants before it; it has a
public function as well." It is therefore necessary for
the court to examine Legrand's motion to determine
whether it has carried its burden, notwithstanding the lack
of a formal opposition to the motion.
also argued that, as a nonparty, it should benefit from a
lighter burden when seeking to obtain confidential treatment.
It is true that, when refusing to grant a party's motion
to seal exhibits, the court has reasoned, in part, that
"[t]hose who decide the litigate in a public forum
(rather than pursue a private dispute-resolution procedure)
must do so in a manner consistent with the right of the
public to follow and monitor the proceedings and result of
their dispute." But that principle does not alter the
necessary showing to overcome the public's right of
access. An everyday reality of doing business is the
possibility that a business partner may end up in litigation
in a public court. For information to be sealed from public
view, the person seeking confidential treatment must make the
showing required by Rule 5.1(b)(3), which applies equally to
any "party or person" who wishes to keep a
motion is cursory and conclusory. Legrand claims that the
exhibits contain "confidential, proprietary, and