The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has denied a party’s motion to seal its petition to confirm an arbitration award and two attached exhibits. In XPO Intermodal, Inc. v. American President Lines, Ltd., No. 17-2015 (PLF) (D. D.C., October 16, 2017), XPO Intermodal argued the documents should be sealed in order to protect confidential terms and highly sensitive business information. The district court was not persuaded, however, and stated “applicant’s motion proffers little to justify sealing what, in effect, amounts to the entire substantive record in this case.”
The district court reminded the parties there is a “strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial proceedings,” before turning to the six factors that must be considered in order to overcome that presumption:
(1) the need for public access to the documents at issue; (2) the extent of previous public access to the documents; (3) the fact that someone has objected to disclosure, and the identity of that person; (4) the strength of any property and privacy interests asserted; (5) the possibility of prejudice in those opposing disclosure; and (6) the purposes for which the documents were introduced during the judicial proceedings.
Next, the district court ruled the documents at issue in the case did not merit sealing XPO Intermodal’s entire petition:
Here, it appears that the exhibits to applicant’s Petition do include some potentially sensitive business information, including rates and schedules, but the filings otherwise do not warrant sealing from the public. The Court thus sees no reason why the Petition itself should not be made publicly available in full, nor any reason why the exhibits thereto should not be made generally available, with only the most sensitive information redacted. The Court is confident that a more rigorous examination undertaken in good faith will lead to a more tailored and appropriate proposal for redaction.
Ultimately, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia resolved the case by ordering the parties to propose specific redactions to the court in lieu of sealing the entire petition.
H/T to Mark Kantor.