United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes, United States District Judge.
jury found in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant, the
parties reached a settlement and stipulated to the dismissal
of this action with prejudice. (Docs. 356, 362, 365.)
Plaintiff then filed a Motion to Unseal Trial Exhibits, which
the Court construed as a motion challenging Defendant's
designation of certain trial exhibits as confidential and
seeking relief from the Protective Order's restriction on
the disclosure of confidential information produced during
discovery. (Docs. 366, 369.) So construed, the Court granted
Plaintiff's motion on December 4, 2018. (Doc. 369.)
December 28, 2018, Defendant noticed an appeal of the
Court's order. Several days later, Defendant moved to
stay the effect of the Court's December 4, 2018 order
pending resolution of its appeal. (Doc. 372.) In the
alternative, Defendant asks that the Court temporarily stay
its order for a period of 7 days to allow Defendant time to
seek a stay from the Ninth Circuit. (Doc. 380 at 4.) The
motion to stay is fully briefed and suitable for resolution
without oral argument. (Docs. 379, 380.) For the following
reasons, Defendant's motion to stay the Court's order
during the pendency of the appeal is denied, but its
alternative request for a 7-day stay is granted.
is a matter of discretion, not a matter of right. Lair v.
Bullock, 697 F.3d 1200, 1203 (9th Cir. 2012). When
deciding whether to grant stay, the Court balances four
factors: (1) the likelihood that the movant will succeed on
appeal; (2) whether the movant will be irreparably injured
without a stay; (3) whether a stay will substantially harm
others; and (4) whether a stay serves the public interest.
Id. The movant has the burden of showing that
circumstances justify a stay. Id.
outset, the last two factors do not weigh against a stay. A
stay merely would delay disclosure of the documents at issue,
and a relatively modest delay would not substantially harm
Plaintiff or the public. With that said, the Court finds that
a stay is not warranted because Defendant has not carried its
burden on the first two factors.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
counterintuitively, the phrase “likelihood of success
on the merits” does not mean that the movant is more
likely than not to prevail on appeal. Id. at 1204.
Instead, the movant must at a minimum show that it has a
“substantial case for relief on the merits.”
Court granted Plaintiff's motion primarily because
Defendant waived the confidentiality of the exhibits at issue
by not objecting to their unsealed admission at trial. (Doc.
369 at 7); see In re Bard IVC Filters Prods. Liab.
Litig., No. MDL 15-02641-PHX-DGC, 2019 WL 186644, at
*2-4 (D. Ariz. Jan. 14, 2019) (explaining that trial
exhibits, regardless of whether they appear on the public
docket or are openly displayed or discussed in court, become
judicial records subject to the public's right of access
by virtue of their admission at trial, and that the unsealed
admission of exhibits that otherwise might be covered by a
protective order waives such confidentiality protections).
Assuming Defendant had not waived confidentiality, the Court
alternatively concluded that compelling reasons did not
justify confidentiality. (Doc. 369 at 7-8.)
arguing for a stay, Defendant primarily contends that the
Court lacked jurisdiction to consider Plaintiff's motion
after the parties stipulated to dismissal with
prejudice.Defendant relies on out-of-circuit
authority for the proposition, perhaps most explicitly stated
in McCall-Bey v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1178, 1185 (7th
Cir. 1985), that “[a]n unconditional dismissal
terminates federal jurisdiction except for the limited
purpose of reopening and setting aside the judgment of
dismissal within the scope allowed by Rule 60(b).”
Stated differently, Defendant argues that, once the Court
entered an unconditional dismissal of this action, it
“no longer retained jurisdiction to hear
Plaintiff's dispute over confidentiality, merely because
the Court had jurisdiction over the case that was
settled.” (Doc. 380 at 2.)
to Defendant's argument and in contrast to the cases it
relies on, the Court did not assert jurisdiction over the
confidentiality dispute simply because it once had
jurisdiction over the merits of the case itself. Rather, the
Court concluded that it retained jurisdiction over the
confidentiality dispute because the parties had explicitly
agreed that the Protective Order would survive the final
termination of the lawsuit and that the Court would
“retain jurisdiction to resolve any dispute concerning
the use of the documents protected under, ” the
Protective Order.” (Doc. 369 at 6; Doc. 36 ¶¶
24-25.) The parties agreed that the Court would retain
jurisdiction over these types of disputes even after the
final termination of the lawsuit, and nothing in the
authorities cited by Defendant suggests that such an
agreement would become null simply because the lawsuit
terminated through a settlement and stipulation of dismissal.
also argues that Plaintiff waived his right to challenge
Defendant's confidentiality designations because
paragraph 9 of the Protective Order allows parties to
challenge confidentiality designations “during this
litigation, ” and Plaintiff waited until the litigation
ended before raising his confidentiality objections.
Defendant contends that the Court misread and misapplied the
Protective Order when it entertained and sustained
Plaintiff's objections, despite their timing.
this argument has more teeth than Defendant's
jurisdiction challenge, it also has its problems, the most
glaring of which is that Defendant did not clearly raise or
develop this argument in its response in opposition to
Plaintiff's original motion. Defendant argued that the
Court lacked jurisdiction because the case had since been
terminated through a stipulated dismissal. Defendant also
argued that Plaintiff waived his confidentiality objections
because earlier he had stipulated to allowing some of the
documents at issue to be filed under seal in conjunction with
the summary judgment briefing. But Defendant did not ...