United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
February 2, 2017, Corrections Corporation of America
(“CCA”) filed a motion for leave to file under
seal certain exhibits to its motion for summary judgment.
Doc. #39. The motion will be granted.
January 8, 2016, Kimmy Coleman Smith, a former Unit Manager
at CCA's Tallahatchie Correctional Facility, filed a
complaint in this Court against CCA. Doc. #1. In her
complaint, Smith alleges claims for race discrimination,
violation of the Family Medical Leave Act, and retaliation.
December 9, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge Jane M.
Virden entered a Stipulated Protective Order Governing
Confidential Materials. Doc. #35. Of relevance here, the
protective order allows parties to mark documents as
confidential and provides:
In the event a party seeks to file Confidential Documents
with the Court, or to file with the Court pleadings or other
papers referring to Confidential information derived
therefrom, the filing party will seek the Court's leave
to file the document, pleading, or other paper under seal as
permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local
Id. at 6.
January 26, 2017, CCA filed a motion for summary judgment.
Doc. #37. The memorandum accompanying the motion for summary
judgment relies on three documents (Exhibits F, G, and I)
which have been marked as confidential. Doc. #38 at 6 n.1. On
February 2, 2017, CCA filed a motion seeking leave to file
the three exhibits under seal, with a supporting memorandum
brief. Doc. #39; Doc. #40. Smith did not respond to the
motion and the time within which she could have done so has
of the Uniform Local Rules provides that no document may be
filed under seal without a court order. L.U. Civ. R. 79(b).
In this regard, Rule 79 instructs that “[n]o document
may be sealed merely by stipulation of the parties.”
Id. at 79(d). Though “[a] confidentiality
order or protective order entered by the court to govern
discovery will not qualify as an order to seal documents for
purposes of this rule, ” “[a] statute mandating
or permitting the non-disclosure of a class of documents
provides sufficient authority to support an order sealing
documents.” Id. at 79(d), (b). In considering
whether to grant a motion to seal, there is a
“presumption in favor of the public's access to
judicial records, ” and the decision whether to order
judicial records sealed is committed to the sound discretion
of the district court, which must “balance the
public's common-law right of access against the interests
favoring nondisclosure.” SEC v. Van
Waeyenberghe, 990 F.2d 845, 848-49 (5th Cir. 1993).
Where, as here, the documents sought to be sealed are
exhibits to a dispositive motion, the weight afforded to the
public's common law right of access is necessarily
greater. United States v. Amodeo, 71 F.3d 1044, 1049
(2d Cir. 1995) (“[T]he weight to be given the
presumption of access must be governed by the role of the
material at issue in the exercise of Article III judicial
power and the resultant value of such information to those
monitoring the federal courts.”); Chicago Tribune
Co. v. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 263 F.3d 1304, 1312
& n.11 (11th Cir. 2001) (“The better rule is that
material filed with discovery motions is not subject to the
common-law right of access, whereas discovery material filed
in connection with pretrial motions that require judicial
resolution of the merits is subject to the common-law right
seeks leave to seal three exhibits to its summary judgment
motion - Exhibit F (“a confidential investigative
report prepared by CCA's in-house investigator”),
Exhibit G (“a compilation of incident statements
prepared by CCA employees regarding the Plaintiff in this
case”), and Exhibit I (“a confidential
investigative report … regarding specific complaints
made about Plaintiff”). Doc. #40 at 2-3. CCA argues
that each of these documents contain statements and
information provided by inmates and/or employees of CCA with
an expectation of confidence. Id. at 3. CCA contends
that the Court should seal these documents “to protect
these people and their expectation of confidentiality
….” Id. at 3-4.
have found sufficient grounds to seal a company's
internal investigation where the report “contains
confidential findings … that are normally unavailable
to the public.” United States ex rel. Carter v.
Haliburton Co., No. 1:10-cv-864, 2011 WL 2077799, at *3
(E.D. Va. May 24, 2011). In such a case, “[t]he
public's interest in access is outweighed … by the
[company's] interest in preserving
confidentiality.” Id. Furthermore, the
interest in preserving confidentiality is particularly strong
when the internal investigation includes statements provided
by inmates and prison employees. See generally Butler v.
Harrington, No. 13-cv-1270, 2014 WL 90724, at *7 (S.D.
Ill. Jan. 9, 2014) (“Concerns for institutional
security and the safety of individual inmates dictate the
need for prison officials to protect the confidentiality of a
prisoner who provides information used in a disciplinary
proceeding against another inmate.”).
consideration, the Court concludes that the public's
interest in access is outweighed by the countervailing
interest in protecting the identities of prison employees and
inmates who provided statements on internal prison matters
with an expectation of confidentiality. Accordingly,
CCA's motion to seal  is ...