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Tentative Ruling
Judge Colleen Sterne
Department 5 SB-Anacapa
1100 Anacapa Street P.O. Box 21107 Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107


Patrick Dietzen et al vs Sirigen Inc et al

Case No: 1397051
Hearing Date: Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:30

Nature of Proceedings: Hearing (Gen Civil) Application to Seal Certain Exhibits

Case: Patrick J. Dietzen, et al., v. Sirigen, Inc., et al., Case No. 1397051 Hearing Date: January 27, 2014 Motion: Application of Non-Party Becton, Dickson and Company to Seal Exhibits Tentative Ruling: As set forth herein, the application of non-party Becton, Dickson and Company to file documents under seal is granted. The declaration of Rocky Tsai, lodged conditionally under seal on January 13, 2014, is ordered filed under seal. Discussion: In this action, plaintiffs assert claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and fraud, among other causes of action, against defendants resulting in the dilution of their shares in defendant Sirigen, Inc. On December 11, 2013, plaintiffs filed their motion to compel non-party Becton, Dickenson and Company (Becton) to comply with a business records subpoena. Hearing on that motion to compel has been continued to February 10, 2014. With their opposition, Becton has made an application to file under seal two of the exhibits in support of this opposition. The general right to public access does not apply with respect to documents submitted in connection with a discovery motion. (NBC Subsidiary (KNBC-TV), Inc. v. Superior Court (1999) 20 Cal.4th 1178, 1208-1209, fn. 25; Rules of Court, rule 2.550(a)(3).) Becton has made a sufficient showing for sealing their exhibits A and B to the declaration of Rocky C. Tsai. The two exhibits at issue are: (exhibit A) Bectonís enterprise valuation model showing financial projections and data; and, (exhibit B) Bectonís asset valuation model corresponding to the documents referred to in plaintiffsí subpoena. (Tsai decl., ∂ 2-3.) Exhibits A and B contain confidential financial information of Becton, the disclosure of which threatens competitive harm to Becton. (Bates decl., ∂ 6.) In the context of this discovery motion where there is no general right of public access to the record, there exists an overriding interest in protecting Bectonís confidential financial information that overcomes the right of public access to the record. (Rules of Court, rule 2.550(d)(1).) Maintaining confidentiality of these records supports sealing the record in this discovery proceeding. (Id., rule 2.550(d)(2).) If the record is not sealed, Bectonís interest in the confidentiality of this information would be compromised and Becton may suffer competitive harm. (Id., rule 2.550(d)(3).) The proposed sealing is limited to the two specific exhibits containing only confidential information, is narrowly tailored and no less restrictive means exist to achieve Bectonís confidentiality interest. (Id., rule 2.550(d)(4), (5).) In the context of a discovery motion and based upon the evidence and argument presented, the court will grant the application to file under seal. Exhibits A and B are attached to the declaration of Rocky Tsai, which was lodged with the court conditionally under seal on January 13, 2014. The public redacted version of the declaration of Rocky Tsai, filed in the public file on January 13, 2014, is identical to the document to be sealed except for the inclusion of exhibits A and B. The Tsai declaration lodged conditionally under seal will be ordered filed under seal.
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