United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar, Chief Judge.
filed a six-count complaint against Defendants in the Circuit
Court for Baltimore City on September 27, 2017. (Compl., ECF
No. 2). Defendant Dutch Village, LLC removed the case to this
Court on November 7, 2017 (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1) and
filed a Removal Statement the same day (ECF No. 6). On
November 20, 2017, Defendants moved for leave to file a
supplemental removal statement under seal
(“Defendants' Motion”) (ECF No. 21). On
December 1, 2017, a group of three media organizations, the
Baltimore Sun, ProPublica, and the Washington Post, filed a
motion to intervene for the purpose of seeking an extension
of time to intervene in opposition to Defendants' Motion.
(See ECF No. 25.) On December 4, 2017, Plaintiffs
themselves filed a response in opposition to Defendants'
Motion (ECF No. 28). On December 8, 2017, the same media
organizations, as well as WMAR-TV and the Associated Press
(collectively, the “Media Intervenors”), moved to
intervene for the purpose of opposing Defendants' Motion
(ECF No. 31). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
grant in part the Media Intervenors' motion to intervene
for the purpose of opposing the Defendants' Motion (ECF
No. 31), and therefore will deny as moot the Media
Intervenors motion to intervene for the purpose of requesting
additional time to intervene for the purpose of opposing
Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 25).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) a court must permit
nonparties to intervene if they “claim an interest
relating to the property or transaction that is the subject
of the action.” When a party moves to seal records,
“representatives of the press and general public must
be given an opportunity to be heard on the question of their
exclusion.” Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court
of Norfolk Cty., 457 U.S. 596, 609 n.25 (1982) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The Fourth Circuit has held that
“the press has standing to intervene in actions in
which it is not otherwise a party to seek review of a
district court's order sealing documents and court
records.” Rosenfeld v. Montgomery Cty. Public
Schs., 25 F. App'x 123, 131 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing,
inter alia, Stone v. Univ. of Maryland Med. Sys.
Corp., 855 F.2d 178, 180-81 (4th Cir. 1988)). The local
rules in this District explicitly provide time for
“interested parties” to object to motions to seal
documents. See Local Rule 105.11 (D. Md. 2016).
Nonparty media intervenors have been permitted to intervene
to seek access to records even when parties to the case have
also opposed the sealing of records. See, e.g.,
Virginia Dep't of State Police v. Washington
Post, 386 F.3d 567, 572 (“[Plaintiff] . . . argued
that under the First Amendment and the common law the public
has a right of access to the . . . documents. Several media
organizations (“Media Appellees”) subsequently
moved to intervene and to unseal all documents that had been
filed under seal.”); Rushford v. New Yorker
Magazine, Inc., 846 F.2d 249, 252 (4th Cir. 1988).
Media Intervenors have standing to move to intervene for the
purpose of seeking access to records that would otherwise be
public, but for the Defendants' Motion. Defendants oppose
the Media Intervenors' motion to intervene primarily on
the ground that the Media Intervenors appear to assert
“the same argument already advanced by
Plaintiffs.” (Opp'n to Mot. Intervene Mem. Supp. 2,
ECF No. 40-1.) The Defendants' argument appears to be
that because the Plaintiffs in this case oppose
Defendants' Motion, the Media Intervenors'
intervention in this matter should only be permitted if they
oppose Defendants' Motion for distinct reasons. That
argument is unsupported by precedent in this District or
citation to Commonwealth of Virginia v. Westinghouse
Elec. Corp., 542 F.2d 214 (4th Cir. 1976) is misplaced.
That case did not concern intervenors whose interest was in
public access to information under the First Amendment or the
common law. Although the Media Intervenors here may indeed
make similar arguments as do the Plaintiffs in
regard to their opposition to Defendants' Motion, the
interests of the Media Intervenors and the
Plaintiffs are different. The Plaintiffs will necessarily
have access to the document in issue (i.e. the supplemental
removal statement) because they are parties to the
litigation; the Media Intervenors, if that document were
sealed, would not.
Media Intervenors have a right to intervene under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a). See Globe Newspaper
Co., 457 U.S. at 609 n.25. Therefore, the Media
Intervenors' motion to intervene for the purpose of
opposing Defendants' Motion will be granted in part. The
Court will grant this motion only in part because in
substance the Media Intervenors' motion to intervene is
in part a motion to intervene and in part a substantive
opposition to the Defendants' Motion. The Court will
grant this motion in part to allow the Media Intervenors to
intervene, but will not, at this time, issue a final decision
on the disposition of the Defendants' Motion.
granted the Media Intervenors' motion to intervene, the
Court now finds that the Defendants' Motion is ripe for
review. That is, the Plaintiffs have responded in opposition
(ECF No. 28) and the Defendants have replied (ECF No. 39),
and, in the Court's eyes, the Media Intervenors have
moved to oppose the Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 31, in
part), Defendants have responded in opposition to that motion
(ECF No. 40) and the Media Intervenors have replied (ECF No.
41). To the extent that the Media Intervenors or the
Defendants disagree with the Court's characterization of
these filings, they may inform ...