Motion to Redact Discovery Hearing Transcript Denied On Public Interest Grounds

18 Dec 2019

In Pacific Biosciences of California, Inc. v. Oxford Nanopore Tech., Inc. et al., Nos. 17-275-LPS, 17-1353-LPS (D. Del. Nov. 4, 2019), the Court denied Defendant’s Motion to Redact Portions of the August 14, 2019 Discovery Teleconference and related submissions on the grounds that “the public has an interest in understanding judicial proceedings, even if they have a limited interest in documents submitted in connection with discovery dispute proceedings.”

In ruling on the motion, the Court initially stated that although there is no presumptive right of public access to discovery motions and supporting documents, “the public does have a right of access to hearing transcripts.” Relying on prior precedent, the Court held that “the party seeking the closure of a hearing or the sealing of part of the judicial record bears the burden of showing that the material is the kind of information that courts will protect and that disclosure will work a clearly defined and serious injury to the party seeking disclosure.”

Relying on the above standard, the Judge held that “Defendants have failed to meet their burden to show that disclosure of the unredacted transcript would work a ‘clearly defined and serious injury’ upon them.” Turning to the specifics, the Court holds that, having reviewed the proposed reactions, “it is unlikely that the particular information at issue is capable of working the kind of serious injury contemplated by the rule. For example, the proposed redactions do not contain trade secrets, scientific data, strategic plans, or financial information. And merely stating that the proposed redactions contain discussions of documents marked ‘Confidential’ or ‘Highly Confidential’ is insufficient to support a motion to redact a transcript of a judicial proceeding.” Finally, the Court concludes that “any minimal potential harm that disclosure might cause is outweighed by the public interest in having access to judicial proceedings.” As such, the Court denied Defendant’s motion.