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Inc. v. Spalding Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

January 10, 2020

MAKER'S MARK DISTILLER, INC. PLAINTIFF
v.
SPALDING GROUP, INC., et al. DEFENDANTS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Lanny King, Magistrate Judge United States District Court

         Senior Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., referred this matter to Magistrate Judge Lanny King for resolution of non-dispositive matters. (Docket # 3). This case was reassigned to Judge Justin R. Walker. (Docket # 41). Judge Justin R. Walker recused from this matter and it was reassigned to Senior Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr. (Docket # 47). This matter was then reassigned to Chief Judge Greg N. Stivers. (Docket # 48).

         On December 17, 2020, the parties filed a Joint Motion for Entry of Agreed Protective Order (Docket # 45) and tendered an Agreed Protective Order for review by this Court. (Docket # 46). For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies this Joint Motion without prejudice for failure to comply with the “good cause” requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 and the sealing requirements under the Local Rules. The Court will consider a timely filed motion that complies with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, Local Rule 5.7, Local Rule 37.1, and this Order.

         Good Cause Requirement

         This Court has increasingly scrutinized stipulated motions for protective orders that do not make the necessary showing of good cause required by the Rules of Civil Procedure and case authority. See Bussell v. Elizabethtown Independent School Dist., 3:17-cv-00605-GNS (W.D. Ky. Oct. 23, 2018) (Edwards, J.) (discussing why the Court will enter the second proposed agreed protective order because it develops why a protective order is necessary) (Pacer); see also Wellmeyer v. Experian Info. Sols., 3:18-cv-94-RGJ (W.D. Ky. May 30, 2018) (Pacer); Middleton v. Selectrucks of America, LLC, 3:17-cv-602-RGJ (W.D. Ky. Sept. 21, 2018) (Pacer); Mitcham v. Intrepid U.S.A., Inc., 3:17-cv-00703-CHB (W.D. Ky. Oct. 1, 2018) (Boom, J.) (Pacer); Roberson v. KentuckyOne Health, Inc., 3:18-cv-00183-CRS-RSE (Aug. 29, 2018) (Edwards, J.) (Pacer); Savidge v. Pharm-Save, Inc., 3:17-cv-000186-CHB (W.D. Ky. July 9, 2018) (Whalin, J.) (Pacer); Effinger v. GLA Collection Co., 3:17-cv-000750-DJH (W.D. Ky. March 28, 2018) (Lindsay, J.) (Pacer); Fleming v. Barnes, 3:16-cv-264-JHM (W.D. Ky. Feb. 27, 2017) (Whalin, J.) (Pacer).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1)(G), “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including . . . requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way….” Good cause exists when the party moving for the protective order “articulate[s] specific facts showing ‘clearly defined and serious injury' resulting from the discovery sought….” Nix v. Sword, 11 Fed. App'x 498, 500 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Avirgan v. Hull, 118 F.R.D. 252, 254 (D.D.C. 1987)). For example, in determining whether to grant a protective order in a trade secret case, the court considered the following factors:

(1) the extent to which the information is known outside of [the] business;
(2) the extent to which it is known by employees and others involved in [the] business;
(3) the extent of measures taken . . . to guard the secrecy of the information;
(4) the value of the information to [the business] and to [its] competitors;
(5) the amount of effort or money expended . . . in developing the information;
(6) the ease or difficulty with which the information could be properly acquired or duplicated by others.

Williams v. Baptist Healthcare Sys., No. 3:16-CV-00236-CRS, 2018 WL 989546, at *2 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 20, 2018) (citing Nash-Finch Co. and Super Food Servs., Inc. v. Casey's Foods, Inc., 2016 WL 737903, at *2 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 23, 2016) (citations omitted)). “The burden of establishing good cause for a protective order rests with the movant.” Nix v. Sword, 11 Fed. App'x 498, 500 (6th Cir. May 24, 2011); see also In re Skelaxin Antitrust Litig., 292 F.R.D. 544, 549 (E.D. Tenn. 2013) (“To show good cause, the moving party must articulate specific facts that show a clearly defined and serious injury resulting from the discovery sought; mere conclusory statements will not be sufficient.”).

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure affords the Court with broad discretion to grant or deny protective orders. Parker & Gamble Co. v. Banker's Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219, 227 (6th Cir. 1996). Because entry of a protective order is contrary to the basic policy in favor of broad discovery, the party that seeks a protective order has a heavy burden to show substantial justification for withholding information from the public. See Williams, 2018 WL 989546, at *2; see also, Proctor & Gamble Co. v. Banker's Trust Co., 78 F.3d 219, 227 (6th Cir. 1996) (“While District Courts have the discretion to issue protective orders, that discretion is limited by the careful dictates of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 and is circumscribed by a long-established tradition which values public access to court proceedings.”); Meyer Goldberg, Inc. of Lorain v. ...


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