United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge
motions are pending in this case. This Memorandum only
addresses plaintiff's Motion to Strike or File Under Seal
Improper Documents (ECF 75, “Motion to Strike or
Seal”), and plaintiff's Further Motion for
Sanctions for Retaliation Against a Witness. ECF 76
(“Motion for Sanctions”).
hearing is necessary to resolve these motions. Local Rule
105.6. For the reasons stated below, I shall deny both
Plaintiff's Motion to Strike or Seal
January 17, 2019, plaintiff filed the Motion to Strike or
Seal, asking the court to strike or seal exhibits to
defendant's motion to dismiss (ECF 6), and an exhibit to
defendant's motion for summary judgment (ECF 64) (the
“Exhibits”). Defendant has responded to the
Motion to Strike or Seal. ECF 89. Plaintiff has replied (ECF
91), and she also filed a supplement to her reply. ECF 93.
Exhibits consist of letters of reprimand written to
plaintiff, and written complaints about plaintiff's job
performance made by various students and students'
parents. ECF 6-5; ECF 6-20; ECF 64-12. Plaintiff argues that
the exhibits are irrelevant, that they violate the privacy of
third parties, that they should not be in her employment file
under the “Master Agreement” between the Board of
Education of Carroll County and the Carroll County Education
Association, and that they should be stricken because they
were not offered at plaintiff's “6-202
hearing” before the County board.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f), “[t]he court may
strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any
redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). See, e.g.,
Haley Paint Co. v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours &
Co., 279 F.R.D. 331, 335 (D. Md. 2012). In determining
whether to grant a motion to strike, the court “enjoys
wide discretion . . . in order ‘to minimize delay,
prejudice and confusion by narrowing the issues for discovery
and trial.'” Id. at 336 (citation
12(f) motions are generally viewed with disfavor because
striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic remedy and
because it is often sought by the movant simply as a dilatory
tactic.” Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc. v.
Gilmore, 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted); see also Renaissance
Greeting Cards, Inc. v. Dollar Tree Stores, 227
Fed.Appx. 239, 247 (4th Cir. 2007). Therefore, “[w]hen
reviewing a motion to strike, ‘the court must view the
pleading under attack in a light most favorable to the
pleader.'” Piontek v. Serv. Ctrs. Corp.,
PJM-10-1202, 2010 WL 4449419, at *8-9 (D. Md. Nov. 5, 2010)
to plaintiff's claims, the Exhibits are relevant to the
case. See F.R. Evid. 401. Plaintiff has not met her
burden of showing that the Exhibits contain “redundant,
immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous” material.
Plaintiff's arguments concerning the “Master
Agreement, ” and her “6-202 hearing, ” even
if true, would not provide sufficient basis for this Court to
strike the Exhibits.
motion might also be construed as a Motion to Seal. The
common law presumes the public and press have a qualified
right to inspect all judicial records and documents. Doe
v. Pub. Citizen, 749 F.3d 246, 265 (4th Cir. 2014)
(citations omitted); Va. Dep't of State Police v.
Washington Post, 386 F.3d 567, 575 (4th Cir. 2004),
cert. denied, 544 U.S. 949 (2005); see also
Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 580
n.17 (1980) (“[H]istorically both civil and criminal
trials have been presumptively open.”). To be sure,
“sensitive medical or personal identification
information may be sealed.” Rock v. McHugh,
819 F.Supp.2d 456, 475 (D. Md. 2011); see also Pittston
Co. v. United States, 368 F.3d 385, 406 (4th Cir. 2004)
(affirming the sealing of “confidential, proprietary,
commercial, or financial data” produced under a
protective order). But, the mere fact that records may be
controversial, personal, or embarrassing does not alone
justify sealing those records from public inspection.
See, e.g., Kamakana v. City & Cty. of Honolulu,
447 F.3d 1172, 1179 (9th Cir. 2006) (“The mere fact
that the production of records may lead to a litigant's
embarrassment, incrimination, or exposure to further
litigation will not, without more, compel the court to seal
asserts the privacy interests of third parties as a reason to
seal the Exhibits. However, in the Exhibits, defendant
redacted the last names of any students referenced. The
Exhibits do not contain any information that is so sensitive
or otherwise personal as to require their sealing.
Accordingly, plaintiff's Motion to Strike or Seal will be
Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions
January 17, 2019, plaintiff moved for sanctions, alleging
that defendant has harassed and retaliated against one of
plaintiff's witnesses. ECF 76. Defendant has responded.
ECF 90. Plaintiff replied (ECF 95), and also filed a
supplement to her reply. ECF 96.
requests sanctions on a variety of grounds. See ECF
76; ECF 95. Plaintiff also seeks to renew or supplement her
previous motion for sanctions (ECF 26), which was denied by