United States District Court, D. Idaho
D.T. and R.T., as guardians and next friends of L.T., Plaintiffs,
RICHARD ARMSTRONG, in his official capacity as Director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
J. Lodge United States District Judge
pending before the Court are: Plaintiffs' Motion to
Proceed Anonymously (Dkt. 3), Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal
(Dkt. 5), and Defendant's unopposed Motion to Seal (Dkt.
18). These Motions are fully briefed and ripe for the
Court's consideration. Having fully reviewed the record,
the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are
adequately presented in the briefs and record. Accordingly,
in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the
Court conclusively finds the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument, the Motion shall be
decided on the record before this Court without a hearing.
reasons set forth below, the Court grants the Motion to
Proceed Anonymously (Dkt. 3), grants in part and denies in
part Plaintiffs' Motion to Seal (Dkt. 5), and grants
Defendant's Motion to Seal (Dkt. 18). The Court finds
that, at least at this junction in the proceedings and with
the record before the Court at this time, using pseudonyms in
the caption and filing only the most sensitive documents in
the case under seal strikes the appropriate balance of
preserving L.T.'s privacy while still providing the
public with appropriate access to the pleadings, briefings,
and orders of the Court.
Plaintiffs' Motion to Proceed Anonymously (Dkt.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2(a), Plaintiffs, D.T.
and R.T, seek to use pseudonyms in the form of their initials
to protect their own identities as well as that of their son,
L.T. Plaintiffs argue that disclosing D.T. and R.T's full
names would necessarily reveal the identity of L.T.
Plaintiffs primary goal in using pseudonyms is to protect
L.T.'s privacy rights and to protect him from
embarrassment and community alienation.
Rule 10(a) requires a complaint to have a caption that
includes the “name[s] all the parties.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a). There are exceptions to this rule.
example, Plaintiffs rely upon Rule 5.2(a), which protects the
identity of minors by requiring a party to use only the
initials of an individual known to be a minor. Fed.R.Civ.P.
5.2 (a). While Plaintiffs argue that L.T. is a
developmentally-disabled minor in the context of the Motion
to Proceed Anonymously, it is clear from the record that L.T.
is a developmentally-disabled adult. Therefore, the rule does
not apply, although the reason behind it, including the
privacy and security concerns of our most vulnerable
community members, is relevant to the issues before the
Rule 5.2(a) does not clearly apply under the circumstances,
the Court otherwise has discretion to “allow parties to
use pseudonyms in the ‘unusual case' when
nondisclosure of the party's identity ‘is necessary
. . . to protect a person from harassment, injury, ridicule
or personal embarrassment.'” Does I thru XXIII
v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058, 1067-1068 (9th
Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v. Doe, 655 F.2d
920, 922, n.1 (9th Cir. 1981)). “[A] party may preserve
his or her anonymity in judicial proceedings in special
circumstances when the party's need for anonymity
outweighs prejudice to the opposing party and the
public's interest in knowing the party's
identity.” Id. at 1068.
instance, the opposing party is aware of the Plaintiffs'
identity. The sole issue to be balanced against
Plaintiffs' stated privacy concerns is the public's
interest in accessing the courts and judicial records.
seek to proceed with pseudonyms to preserve their anonymity
and that of their son. They argue that the pleadings and
records involved in this case will include detailed,
personal, and potentially embarrassing facts regarding
L.T.'s medical condition and behavioral issues that, if
disclosed, might hinder L.T.'s ability to socialize, find
employment, and otherwise integrate in his community.
Defendant opposes the motion because Plaintiffs have already
disclosed L.T.'s identity in the context of the Kyler
House closing through social media and a news story.
Court has reviewed the materials Defendant cites in its
briefing and does not find that they serve as a basis for
denying Plaintiffs from proceedings anonymously herein.
Plaintiffs are allowed to decide how and to what extent they
disclose personal information, and there is no evidence from
the records cited that Plaintiffs have chosen to reveal the
more embarrassing, personal, and potentially prejudicial
facts regarding L.T.'s medical condition and behavioral
issues that are part of the record in this case.
Defendant does not argue that they have been prejudiced by
the use of pseudonyms and, while the Court is well-aware of
the public's general interest in having access to court
records, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' rights to
privacy outweighs the public interest's in
Plaintiffs' actual identity in this case. In fact, the
use of pseudonyms that protect Plaintiffs' identity may
allow greater public access to the information, files, and
records at issue in this dispute. With L.T.'s ...