Insufficient and Premature Requests to Seal Documents Denied Under Lugosch

On Track Innovations Ltd. v. T-Mobile USA, Inc.

Case Number: 1:12-cv-02224-AJN (Dkt. 164)

After filing motions for summary judgment and to exclude an expert opinion, the parties sought the court’s permission to maintain certain supporting materials under seal. In considering the request, Judge Nathan identified the court’s duty to evaluate sealing requests under the framework established by Lugosch v. Pyramid Co. of Onandaga, 435 F.2d 110 (2d Cir. 2006), namely, 1) whether the documents in question are “judicial documents”; 2) if a document is “judicial”, what weight should be given to the common law presumption of public access to such documents; 3) how should that interest be weighed against competing interests that weigh against public access; and 4) whether the First Amendment provides a qualified right of access.

Denying the parties’ request to maintain their materials under seal, Judge Nathan found that rather than addressing such inquiries, the parties merely submitted lengthy charts repeatedly reciting boilerplate justifications for maintaining the requested documents under seal. Judge Nathan also reasoned that, while categories of documents may be sought to be sealed, and document-by-document requests are not necessarily required, a sealing request must contain significant information and supportive authority to comport with the principles expounded in Lugosch.

Judge Nathan also noted that sealing requests are provisional, and may be revisited after the merits of a pending motion are addressed. Judge Nathan reasoned that, when ruling on pending motions, it is impossible to determine what material will be relied upon. If material is relied upon in rendering a decision, a presumption of access may outweigh the interest of maintaining confidentiality, but if material is not relied upon, it may be subject to a lessened presumption of access. For these reasons, Judge Nathan said that the court would revisit its decision on the sealing requests following resolution of the pending motions, or upon request.

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