United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson Division
Phillip Wade GRIMES, Personal Representative of the Estate of O.G., Plaintiff,
YOUNG LIFE, INC.; Inner Quest, Inc.; and Adventure Experiences, Inc., Defendants.
T. Smith, Law Offices of Brian T. Smith, Christina M.
Bradford, U.S. District Court, Greenville, SC, Lee Delton
Gunn, IV, Pro Hac Vice, Ryan A. Lopez, Pro Hac Vice, Gunn Law
Group PA, Tampa, FL, for Plaintiff.
Charles Rogers, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, W. Howard Boyd,
Jr., Gallivan White and Boyd, Greenville, SC, for Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
M. HERLONG, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Young
motion to seal an excerpt from the Young
Life Challenge Course Manual (the
"Manual Excerpt") and a contract between
Young Life and Inner Quest,
Inc. ("Inner Quest") for the installation of a
three-person giant swing (the "Contract"), pursuant
to Local Civil Rule 5.03 of the District of South Carolina.
Young Life seeks to file
the Manual Excerpt and Contract under seal as an exhibit to
its motion for summary judgment as to Inner Quest's
crossclaim. The other parties do not object to sealing the
Manual Excerpt and Contract.
Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 218 F.3d 288, 302 (4th
Cir. 2000), the Fourth Circuit noted that a district court
"has supervisory power over its own records and may, in
its discretion, seal documents if the public's right of
access is outweighed by competing interests." (Internal
quotation marks omitted). However, there is a presumption in
favor of public access to court records. Id. In
order to seal documents, the court must "(1) provide
public notice of the request to seal and allow interested
parties a reasonable opportunity to object, (2) consider less
drastic alternatives to sealing the documents, and (3)
provide specific reasons and factual findings supporting its
decision to seal the documents and for rejecting the
notice has been satisfied through docketing of
Young Life's motion to
seal. See Local Civ. R. D.S.C. 5.03(D).
Young Life contends that
the Contract contains proprietary information regarding the
design, component parts, and the installation process for the
three-person giant swing. (Mot. Seal 6, ECF No. 99.) The
Plaintiff's complaint alleges negligence and strict
liability claims arising from the death of Olivia Grimes, who
was thrown from the three-person swing. (Compl., generally,
ECF No. 1.) Inner Quest designed the swing at issue. (Inner
Quest Answer ¶¶ 10-11, ECF No. 74.) The Contract is
relevant to Young
Life's motion for summary judgment
because of an indemnity clause which purports to require
Young Life to indemnify
Inner Quest. (Young Life
Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 1 (Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 8), ECF No.
100-1.) However, the Contract contains detailed design
information. This information is proprietary to Inner Quest
and disclosure could be damaging to its business interests.
See Emergency Fuel, LLC v. Pennzoil-Quaker State
Co., 187 F.Supp.2d 575, 583 (D. Md. 2002) (sealing
confidential commercial information because "public
disclosure could unfairly damage the parties' business
and financial interests"), aff'd in part,
rev'd in part on other grounds, and remanded,
No. 02-1391, 2003 WL 21772131, at *1 (Fed. Cir. July
25, 2003) (unpublished). Therefore, the court finds cause to
grant Young Life's
motion to seal as to the Contract.
contrast, the court finds that there is no basis to seal the
Manual Excerpt. There is no evidence that the Manual Excerpt
contains confidential and proprietary information that could
damage Young Life if
disclosed. The first page, which contains the "Mission
and Vision of Young
Life" is identical to information
located on Young Life's
website. Mission and Vision of Young
(last visited Jan. 13, 2017). Further, the second page which
describes Young Life's
development of its safety policies is important to the
Plaintiff's negligence claims, and the public has an
interest ‘in information central to this case. Based on
the foregoing, Young Life
has demonstrated that there is cause to seal the Contract,
but has failed to overcome the public's presumptive right
to access judicial documents and records as to the Manual
Excerpt. Stone v. Univ. of Md. Med. Sys. Corp., 855
F.2d 178, 180 (4th Cir. 1988).
that Young Life's
motion to seal, docket number 99, is granted in part and
denied in part. It is further
that Young Life file the
Manual Excerpt as an additional attachment to its motion for
summary judgment, docket number 100. Young
Life may file the contract under seal using
the event "Sealed Document."