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Free Speech

Judge Rejects Most Sealing Requests in Peloton Case


From Judge Valerie Caproni (S.D.N.Y.) in Wednesday's Simpson v. Peloton Interactive, Inc.:

Petitioner Simpson {"with agreement by Respondent Peloton Interactive, Inc."} filed a motion to seal nine words from its Petition to Confirm Arbitration and to file the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") Opinion and Interim Award and the AAA Opinion and Final Award completely under seal …. [Peloton] filed a motion for approval of redacted filings [without Simpson's agreement], proposing more extensive redactions of the Petition to Confirm Arbitration and more narrow redactions of the two AAA Opinions ….

Respondent Peloton seeks to redact references to certain copyright disputes and to the decrease in size of Peloton's on-demand class library following such disputes. The Court recognizes that these may be embarrassing for the company. But avoiding embarrassment is not the type of "higher value" that justifies overcoming the presumption of immediate public access. Moreover, Peloton's removal of classes due to copyright disputes was discussed in an open letter to Peloton members and picked up by the media, so any argument that this fact is confidential is unwarranted….

Respondent Peloton also seeks to redact the names of individuals associated with other cases against Peloton. Respondent Peloton does not allege that these individuals are minors whose names may be redacted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5.2. Respondent Peloton also does not contend that these individuals have filed their cases under seal or have alleged some specific privacy interest sufficient to overcome the … presumption of access. It seems Peloton is further seeking to avoid embarrassment, this time as a result of the multiple actions filed against the company. In short, this proposed redaction is denied….

Respondent Peloton also seeks to redact the Arbitrator's acknowledgment that Peloton's rejected interpretation of "ever-growing" coincided with the time the litigation was filed. The Court recognizes that Peloton "vehemently disagrees with the arbitrator's characterization of this information," and Peloton is free to make its view more widely known. But the rejected interpretation of this phrase does not "provide valuable insights into a company's current business practices that a competitor would seek to exploit." As such, this proposed redaction is denied….

Respondent Peloton seeks to redact the number of classes added or removed over particular time periods. Additionally, Respondent Peloton seeks to redact information about and quotations from an internal document outlining communication strategy to ensure member retention. The number of classes over time and strategies to retain members do qualify as sensitive business information worthy of redaction as potential competitors could unfairly glean marketing and product development insights from this information. As such, Respondent Peloton may redact such information from the filings….