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"), a contract between Young
Life and Inner Quest, Inc. ("Inner
Quest") for the installation of a three-person giant
swing (the "Contract"), and Adventure Experiences,
Inc.'s ("Adventure Experiences") Giant Swing
Operations Procedures (the "Adventure Experiences
Manual") pursuant to Local Civil Rule 5.03 of the
District of South Carolina. Young
Life seeks to file the
Young Life Manual,
Contract, and Adventure Experiences Manual under seal as an
exhibit to its motion for partial summary judgment as to
Grimes' claims. The other parties do not object to
sealing the Young Life
Manual, Contract, and Adventure Experiences Manual.
Ashcraft v. Conoco, Inc., 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." 218 F.3d 288, 302 (4th Cir. 2000) (internal
quotation marks omitted). However, there is a presumption in
favor of public access to court records. Id.;
see also Stone v. Univ. of Md. Med. Sys.
Corp., 855 F.2d 178, 180 (4th Cir. 1988). 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). The court
previously allowed Young
Life to file the Contract under seal in an
order dated January 23, 2017. (Jan. 23, 2017 Order, ECF No.
108.) For the reasons set forth in the January 23, 2017
order, the court finds that there is cause to allow
Young Life to file the
Contract under seal for purposes of its motion for partial
Life contends that the
Young Life Manual and
Adventure Experiences Manual contain proprietary information
regarding the safety standards and principles regarding the
operation of the giant swing and challenge courses. (Mot.
Seal 2, ECF No. 112.) 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.
(Am. Compl., generally, ECF No. 82.) Specifically, the
Plaintiff alleges that Young
Life was reckless or negligent in failing to
establish proper safety procedures, comply with its own
safety procedures, and adequately train staff members.
(Id. at ¶¶ 31, 36, ECF No. 82.) Further,
the Plaintiff alleges that Adventure Experiences was
negligent and reckless in failing to adequately develop
safety procedures for operation of the three-person swing and
properly train the operators of the three-person swing.
(Id. at ¶¶ 100, 114, ECF No. 82.)
Life's assertion that the
Young Life Manual and
Adventures Experiences Manual contain confidential and
proprietary information is not supported by a review of the
documents. Neither the Young
Life Manual nor the Adventure Experiences
Manual contain information that would appear to be
prejudicial to Young Life
or Adventure Experiences' competitive standing if made
public. See Cochran v. Volvo Grp. N. America,
LLC, 931 F.Supp.2d 725, 729 (D. Md. 2013). Further, the
public's interest in information central to this case
outweighs Young Life and
Adventure Experiences' interests in maintaining the
confidentiality of its safety procedures. See
id. Based on the foregoing, Young
Life has failed to overcome the public's
presumptive right to access judicial documents and records as
to the Young Life Manual
and the Adventure Experiences Manual.
that Young Life's
motion to seal, docket number 112, is granted in part and
denied in part. It is further
that Young Life file the
Young Life Manual and
Adventure Experience Manual as additional attachments to its
motion for summary judgment, docket number 113.
Young Life may file the
contract under seal using the event "Sealed