United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
March 23. 2018. Plaintiffs Casa de Maryland. Inc. and Jose E.
Guevara. Juan Rodriguez, and Luis Andrade (collectively,
"Individual Plaintiffs") filed an action seeking to
enjoin the United States Government from terminating El
Salvador's designation as a Temporary Protected Status
("TPS") country, alleging that the Government's
decision to do so violates the Equal Protection Clause and
Substantive Due Process provisions of the Fifth Amendment.
U.S. Const, amend. V, the Immigration and Nationality Act. 8
U.S.C. §§ 1101-1537. and the Administrative
Procedure Act. 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706. Pending before
the Court is Individual Plaintiffs"
unopposed Motion for Permission to Omit Their Home
Addresses from Caption. ECF No. 2. No. hearing is necessary.
Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following reasons.
Plaintiffs* Motion is granted.
Plaintiffs request that the Court redact their home addresses
and counties of residence from the publically-filed version
of their Complaint, fearing that they "would face a real
risk of harassment or retaliation" if such information
was made publically available. FCF No. 2 at
This Court's Local Rules require that complaints
"shall contain the names and address of all parties and
the county of residence of any Maryland party."
See Loc. R. 102.2(a) (2016). Similarly, the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure require that the identities of the
parties to a case be disclosed. See Doe v. Public
Citizen, 749 F.3d 246.273 (4th Cir. 2014) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(a)). These requirements serve the
public's important interest in open judicial proceedings:
however, "in exceptional circumstances, compelling
concerns relating to personal privacy or confidentially may
warrant some degree of anonymity injudicial
proceedings." See id. The Fourth
Circuit has set forth the following nonexclusive factors for
district courts to consider when weighing the need for open
judicial proceedings against a litigant's concern for
Whether the justification asserted by the requesting party is
merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may attend
any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a matter of
sensitive and highly personal nature: whether identification
poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm to the
requesting party or even more critically, to innocent
nonparties; the ages of the person whose privacy interests
are sought to be protected: whether the action is against a
governmental or private party: and. relatedly. the risk of
unfairness to the opposing party from allowing an action
against it to proceed anonymously.
See Id. (citing James v. Jacobson, 6 F.3d
233. 238 (4th Cir. 1993)). The Court finds that these factors
weigh in favor of allowing Individual Plaintiffs to omit
their addresses and counties of record from the
publically-filed version of their Complaint.
Plaintiffs do not seek to hide their addresses and countries
of record from public view merely to escape the ridicule and
harassment that may be associated with filing suit against
the Government. See Public Citizen. 749 F.3d at
274-75 (citing Jacobson. 6 F.3d at 238 (plaintiffs
may not use a pseudonym to prevent reputational or economic
interests or "merely to avoid the annoyance and
criticism that may attend . .. litigation"). Rather.
Individual Plaintiffs suggest that "there is
considerable public animus against immigrants, and their
safety could be compromised if the public were allowed to
know their home addresses and counties of residence."
ECF No. 2 at 2. While Individual Defendants" Complaint
alleges that the Government's decision to rescind Fl
Salvador's TPS designation is motivated by bias against
Latino immigrants. FCF No. 1 ¶ 56. their exposure to
threats of violence, at present, is only speculative.
However. Individual Plaintiffs* fears associated with making
their addresses publically available in a case challenging
the rescission of their lawful immigration status are
nonetheless legitimate. See Doe v. Stegall, 653 F.2d
180. 186 (5th Cir. 1981) (threats of violence generated by
this case, in conjunction with the other factors weighing in
favor of maintaining [plaintiffs'] anonymity, tip the
balance against the customary practice of judicial openness):
see also Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v.
Governor of Alabama, 691 F.3d 1236, 1247 (11th Cir.
2012) (noting that revealing illegal immigration status could
expose one to harassment and intimidation).
other hand, the countervailing public interest in disclosing
Individual Plaintiffs' addresses is slight and does not
justify exposing them to the risk of excessive harassment or
violent reprisals. While the public has an interest in
knowing the names of the litigants, an interest further
heightened because Individual Plaintiffs sued the Government.
Public Citizen, 749 F, 3d at 273. Individual
Plaintiffs" addresses and counties of record are of
minimal import to furthering the openness of judicial
Court has not evaluated the merits of Plaintiffs"
claims, but it is unclear how Individual Plaintiffs'
addresses will be relevant to any questions of law or fact
that the Court must resolve. See Id. (citing
Femedeer v. Haum, 227 F.3d 1244. 1246 (10th Cir.
2000) (noting that "the public has an important interest
in access to legal proceedings, particularly those attacking
. . . properly enacted legislation"")); see
also International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump.
No. IDC-17-0361, 2017 WL 818255. at *3 (D. Md. Mar. 1. 2017)
("the public interest in the identity of the
[plaintiffs] is reduced because the claim is a pure legal
challenge [to the Government action] such that the individual
plaintiffs play only a minor role in the
the Court has no basis to conclude that allowing the
Individual Defendants to proceed with their addresses
shielded from public view will prejudice the Government in
anyway. Cf. Roe v. CVS Caremark Corp.,
No. 4:13-cv-3481-RBH. 2014 WL 12608588. at *3 (D.S.C. Sept.
11. 2014) (allowing plaintiff to proceed under pseudonym
would prejudice defendants because they may not be able to
fully respond to the complaint due to the uncertainty of
plaintiff's identity and unfamiliarity with the
background giving rise to the suit). And unlike private
parties, the Government is not vulnerable to the reputation
and economic harm associated with having a suit filed against
it such that the Court would need to require full disclosure
of a plaintiffs identity in the interest of fairness.
International Refugee Assistance Project, 2017 WL
818255 at *3 (citing S. Methodist Univ. Ass'n of
Women Law Students v. Wynne & Jaffe, 599 F.2d 707.
713 (5th Cir. 1979)). Therefore, the Court concludes that
Individual Plaintiffs" need to conceal their addresses
and counties of records weighs against the need for such
information to be publically disclosed.
the foregoing reasons. Individual Plaintiffs' Motion for
Permission to Omit their Home Addresses from Caption. ECF No.
2. shall be granted. A separate Order follows.