United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
closed civil matter is before the Court on a letter filed pro
se by plaintiff Patricia Grabovac on June 9, 2017, which the
Court construes as a motion to seal or redact the case
file. For the following reasons, the motion will
filed this employment discrimination action through counsel
in June 2003. The Court granted defendant Allstate Insurance
Company's motion for summary judgment and entered
judgment in favor of defendant and against plaintiff on all
of plaintiff's claims on September 23, 2004 (Docs. 30,
31). Plaintiff appealed, and the Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals affirmed in a opinion issued October 20, 2005.
See Grabovac v. Allstate Insurance Co., 426 F.3d 951
(8th Cir. 2005).
2017, plaintiff filed the instant motion to seal or redact
the case file on the basis that it contains unspecified
“personal information” and her “personal
mistake” that she did not know would be part of the
record. Plaintiff also states that in 2005 she did not know
this information would later be accessible via the internet.
Plaintiff asserts that as a result of this information she
has to live with shame and it causes her to “not be
employed, ” and plaintiff states she has a disabled son
she must provide for. In her motion, plaintiff specifically
refers to the Eighth Circuit's published opinion, but the
Court will construe the motion as being directed to this
Court's electronic case file.
Eighth Circuit has stated that “the courts of this
country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public
records and documents, including judicial records and
documents.” In re Neal, 461 F.3d 1048, 1053
(8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Communications,
Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978)). “This right of
access bolsters public confidence in the judicial system by
allowing citizens to evaluate the reasonableness and fairness
of judicial proceedings, ” and “provides a
measure of accountability to the public at large, which pays
for the courts.” IDT Corp. v. eBay, 709 F.3d
1220, 1222 (8th Cir. 2013) (cited cases omitted).
Eighth Circuit recently stated that the decision whether to
seal a court file is “best left to the sound discretion
of the trial court.” Duckworth v. St. Louis Metro.
Police Dep't, 654 F. App'x 249, 250 (8th Cir.
2016) (unpublished per curiam) (quoting United States v.
Webbe, 791 F.2d 103, 106 (8th Cir. 1986)). “While
there is a ‘common-law right of access to a civil
proceeding . . . that right is not absolute.'”
Id. (quoting IDT Corp., 709 F.3d at 1222).
Courts are instructed to balance “the interests served
by the common-law right of access . . . against the salutary
interests served by maintaining confidentiality of the
information sought to be sealed.” IDT Corp.,
709 F.3d at 1223.
Eighth Circuit recently held that this Court did not abuse
its discretion in denying a motion to seal and redact a case
file where a plaintiff alleged that because of her
discrimination lawsuit she was “unable to become
gainfully employed because every potential job employer and
interviewer asks about this case.” Duckworth,
654 F. App'x at 250. The Duckworth case
presented a situation similar to the instant case, absent the
issue of an allegation of personal shame, and is therefore
persuasive. Further, “The mere fact that the production
of records may lead to a litigant's embarrassment,
incrimination, or exposure to further litigation will not,
without more, compel the court to seal its records.”
S.E.C. v. Shanahan, 2006 WL 3330972, at *4 (E.D. Mo.
Nov. 15, 2006) (quoting Kamakana v. City and County of
Honolulu, 447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006) (citation
the Court is sympathetic to plaintiff's plight, she has
not alleged facts that would overcome the common-law right of
access to the documents contained in the case file, which is
a judicial record. See IDT Corp., 709 F.3d at 1222.
This is particularly true because the Court reached the
merits of plaintiff's claims and adjudicated them in
resolving the defendant's motion for summary judgment.
The weight given to the presumption of public access is
therefore greater, because a decision on the merits is of
value to those monitoring the federal courts. See
id. at 1224. To seal the record of this case under the
circumstances presented by plaintiff's motion would
improperly “interfere with the interests served by the
common-law right of access.” Id. at 1223.
these reasons, the Court concludes it is not appropriate to
restrict public access to the electronic file of this case
and plaintiff's motion to seal it will be denied. As to
her alternative motion to redact, plaintiff does not specify
and the Court cannot envision how the case file could be
redacted to correct the ill effects she describes. This is in
part because plaintiff's motion only mentions the Eighth
Circuit Court of Appeals' decision, which is not only
available on the internet but is published in the Federal
Reporter Third series. This Court has no authority to seal or
redact an opinion of the Eighth Circuit.
foregoing reasons, plaintiffs motion to seal or redact the
case file will be denied. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
that plaintiffs letter to the Court, construed as a ...