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Vesta Corp. v. Amdocs Management Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

May 4, 2018


          Stephen F. English Erick J. Haynie Julia E.Markley PERKINS COIE LLP Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Bruce G. Vanyo Andrew G. Kleorn Richard H. Zelichov Christain L. Costley Yonaton M. Rosenzweig KATTEN MUCHIN ROSENMAN LLP Robert Shlachter Joshua Ross STOLL STOLL BERNE LOKTING & SHLACHTER P.C. Attorneys for Defendants

          OPINION & ORDER


         Plaintiff moves to redact portions of the transcript of a hearing held on December 18, 2017, and to seal part of the Court's February 12, 2018, Opinion and Order. Defendants do not object to the redaction of specific interest rates from the hearing transcript but otherwise oppose both motions. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants in part and denies in part Plaintiff's Motion to Redact and denies Plaintiff's Motion to Seal.


         Plaintiff Vesta Corporation, an electronic payments and fraud prevention technology company, has sued Defendants Amdocs Management Limited and Amdocs, Inc. (collectively, “Defendants”), telephone billing software and services companies, for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets. Fourth Am. Compl. (“FAC”) Intro, ECF 405. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in the course of collaborating on various projects and the attempted acquisitions of Plaintiff by Defendants, Plaintiff shared “highly confidential and proprietary information, ” which Defendants used and relied upon “improperly to create, price and sell a competing product in order to increase its profits.” Id. As a result of Defendants' misappropriation and breach of contract, Plaintiff alleges it “suffered lost profits and royalties on various accounts, including MetroPCS, Sprint and T-Mobile.” Id. at ¶¶ 79, 85, 95, 108.

         On September 7 and 11, 2017, Defendants filed two motions to strike pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. First, Defendants moved to exclude and strike Plaintiff's untimely damages theories. Defs. Mot. Strike Damages, ECF 476. Second, Defendants moved to exclude and strike Plaintiff's late identified technical trade secrets. Defs. Mot. Strike Trade Secrets, ECF 483. The Court held a hearing on both motions on December 18, 2017, that was open to the public. See Minutes of Proceedings, ECF 538.

         At the hearing, the Court denied Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's damages theories but granted Defendants additional time to conduct discovery. Id. After receiving supplemental briefing from the parties, the Court issued an Opinion and Order on February 12, 2018, granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion to strike Plaintiff's late-identified trade secrets. Opinion & Order (“O&O”), ECF 553. Plaintiff filed the present motions to redact portions the hearing transcript and the Court's Opinion and Order. Pl. Mot. Redact, ECF 546; Pl. Mot. Seal, ECF 554.


         “Historically, courts have recognized a ‘general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents.'” Kamakana v. City and Cty. of Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1178 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commcn's Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597-98 (1978)). There is a “strong presumption in favor of access” to court records except for those traditionally kept secret, such as grand jury transcripts and warrant materials. Id. (citing Foltz v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 331 F.3d 1122, 1135 (9th Cir. 2003)). Courts, therefore, require “compelling reasons” to seal judicial records: “[T]he party [seeking to seal a judicial record] must articulate compelling reasons supported by specific factual findings that outweigh the general history of access and the public policies favoring disclosure, such as the public interest in understanding the judicial process.” Id. at 1178-79 (internal citations and quotations omitted). If, after balancing the interests of the public and the party seeking to keep certain judicial records secret, “the court decides to seal certain judicial records, it must ‘base its decision on a compelling reason and articulate a factual basis for its ruling, without relying on hypothesis or conjecture.'” Id. at 1179 (quoting Hagestad v. Tragesser, 49 F.3d 1430, 1434 (9th Cir. 1995)).

         Where the information in question is attached to a non-dispositive motion, courts apply a lower “good cause” standard from Rule 26(c). See Id. (“We have, however, carved out an exception to the presumption of access to judicial records for a sealed discovery document attached to a non-dispositive motion, such that the usual presumption of the public's right of access is rebutted.” (internal citations omitted; emphasis in original)). “[T]he public has less of a need for access to court records attached only to non-dispositive motions because those documents are often ‘unrelated or only tangentially related to the underlying cause of action.'” Id. (quoting Foltz, 331 F.3d at 1135). “[A]s the private interests of the litigants are ‘the only weights on the scale'” under these circumstances, application of the good cause standard from Rule 26(c) “makes sense.” Ctr. for Auto Safety v. Chrylser Grp., LLC, 809 F.3d 1092, 1097-98 (9th Cir. 2016) (quoting Kamakana, 447 F.3d at 1180).

         In determining whether the good cause or compelling reason standard applies in a given case, the court should not mechanically label motions “dispositive” or “nondispositive.” Id. at 1098. Rather, the court should focus on whether the “issue is more than tangentially related to the underlying cause of action” or the “merits of the case.” Id. at 1099 (emphasizing that “plenty of technically nondispositive motions-including routine motions in limine-are strongly correlative of the merits of a case”).


         Plaintiff moves to redact portions of the December 18, 2017, hearing transcript and to seal part of the Court's February 12, 2018, Opinion and Order.[1] With regard to the hearing transcript, Plaintiff seeks to redact six categories of information: (1) information that is confidential by contract or industry practice (such as the names of potential bidders in the merger and acquisition process); (2) sensitive financial information, including valuations, negotiated interest and financing rates, and related information; (3) the names of Plaintiff's confidential business partners and third-party contractors; (4) internal code names for Plaintiff's business activities; (5) information about Plaintiff's confidential interactions with customers; and (6) information regarding Plaintiff's technical products, such as the location of the e-wallet, whether Plaintiff served as the merchant of record for various customers, and other technical details in trade secret documents. Pl. Mot. Redact 6-7. With regard to the Court's Opinion and Order, Plaintiff “moves for the Court to seal a limited portion (two paragraphs)” that relate to the location of the e-wallet function of its payment platform. Pl. Mot. Seal 2. Defendants oppose all of Plaintiff's proposed redactions except ...

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