United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston
CHARLES E. HAYNES, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Bradlee Nathan Haynes, deceased, Plaintiff,
SERGIY GREBINNYK, an individual, and SAFINA INC., a North Carolina Corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
T. COPENHAVER, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
is plaintiff Charles E. Haynes' motion to file under seal
the petition for approval of a wrongful death settlement and
of distribution of the proceeds, filed March 9, 2018.
instituted this action in the Circuit Court of Jackson
County, West Virginia, on August 30, 2017. Pursuant to West
Virginia Code § 55-7-5 et seq., Haynes alleged
that the negligence of defendants Sergiy Grebinnyk and Safina
Inc. ("Safina" and, together,
"Defendants") resulted in the wrongful death of his
son. (See Compl. ¶ 26.) Defendants removed the
case to this court on September 21, 2017, invoking the
court's diversity jurisdiction conferred by 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332(a)(1), 1441(a). (See Notice of
Removal ¶¶ 7-16.)
Local Rules of Procedure for the Southern District of West
Virginia provide that
[t]he rule requiring public inspection of court documents is
necessary to allow interested parties to judge the
court's work product in the cases assigned to it. The
rule may be abrogated only in exceptional circumstances.
Local R. P. 26.4(c)(1); accord Columbus-Am. Discovery
Grp. v. Atlantic Mut. Ins. Co., 203 F.3d 291, 303 (4th
Cir. 2000) ("Publicity of [court] records ... is
necessary in the long run so that the public can judge the
product of the courts in a given case."). A motion to
seal must be accompanied by a memorandum of law containing
(A) the reasons why sealing is necessary, including the
reasons why alternatives to sealing, such as redaction, are
(B) the requested duration of the proposed seal; and
(C) a discussion of the propriety of sealing, giving due
regard to the parameters of the common law and First
Amendment rights of access as interpreted by the Supreme
Court and our Court of Appeals.
Id. 26.4(c) (2) (A)-(B) .
the common law and the First Amendment bear on the right of
public access to court documents. Price v. Tuggle,
No. 2:16-1529, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98618, at *3 (S.D. W.Va.
July 28, 2016). For present purposes, the court presumes that
only the common law is implicated. See Hall v. Beverly
Enters. - W.Va., No. 2:10-0842, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
123680, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. Nov. 19, 2010) (making this
presumption for a motion to seal a wrongful death settlement
while noting that excluding the First Amendment "is not
a foregone conclusion").
presumes a right of the public to inspect and copy "all
'judicial records and documents.'" Stone v.
Univ. of Md. Med. Sys. Corp., 855 F.2d 178, 180 (4th
Cir. 1988) (quoting Nixon v. Warner Commc'ns,
Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597, 55 L.Ed.2d 570, 98 S.Ct. 1306
(1978)). "This presumption of access, however, can be
rebutted if countervailing interests heavily outweigh the
public interests in access, " and "the party
seeking to overcome the presumption bears the burden of
showing some significant interest that outweighs the
presumption." Rushford v. New Yorker Magazine,
846 F.2d 249, 253 (4th Cir. 1988).... Ultimately, under the
common law the decision whether to grant or restrict access
to judicial records or documents is a matter of a district
court's "supervisory power" . . . "to be
exercised in light of the relevant facts and circumstances of
the particular case." Nixon, 435 U.S. at
Va. Dep't of State Police v. Wash. Post, 386
F.3d 567, 575 (4th Cir. 2004) (first and third full ...