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No Pseudonymity or Sealing in "Campaign" by "Serial Litigator" "to Conceal His Litigation History"

"Plaintiff's behavior may make it more difficult for other courts (and the public) to find his litigation history, which could act to conceal future vexatious litigation or behavior."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


From Del Nero v. Allstate Ins. Co., decided yesterday by Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach (D. Nev.); for more on other such requests by the same litigant (some of which have prevailed), see here and here; for more on pseudonymity in litigation generally, see here:

I previously ordered that plaintiff's motion to seal, which contained highly personal information, could remain sealed, but denied his request to seal this entire case and replace the caption with John Doe (this case has been closed for twenty years). Plaintiff has now filed four additional motions to seal this case, which I liberally construe¬†as motions to reconsider my prior Order…. In his sealed motion for judicial notice, he asks the Court to take judicial notice that other courts have sealed his cases. In his next motion, he asks that his motion for judicial notice be sealed because the other courts sealed the orders. In his third sealed motion he offers additional arguments for why this entire case should be sealed. In his fourth sealed motion he provides an updated address which he asks to be sealed.

Plaintiff alleges that he participates in California's Safe at Home program which protects crime victims by providing a substitute address for public records in California. Plaintiff alleges that under the California Rules of Civil Procedure, he should be allowed to retroactively change his name in this case to the pseudonym John Doe. As I outlined in my previous Order, plaintiff is no stranger to litigation, and his new sealed motions highlight the sheer number of duplicative cases he has filed across the country. This instant long-closed case ended with a dismissal of costs awarded to the defendants for plaintiff's failure to participate in this case.

{At least one court has noted that Del Nero has utilize[d] various aliases including Darren Del Nero, Darren Chaker, Darren Chaker-Del Nero, and David Hunter" in past litigation.} …

[Plaintiff's] new filings do not contradict my previous findings that (1) Nevada law applies here, not California law; (2) that this Court is bound by Ninth Circuit precedent, not the California Code of Civil Procedure; and (3) that he has not met his burden of demonstrating a need to list his name "John Doe" in the caption. Plaintiff's address and telephone number are not listed on the public docket. Plaintiff has not shown that public awareness of this case, which he filed twenty years ago, puts him in danger now. In this case, plaintiff's need for anonymity does not outweigh the public's interest in knowing plaintiff's identity because plaintiff is a serial litigator, and this Court awarded fees to the defendants because of plaintiff's behavior here. I deny plaintiff's request to reconsider my previous order.

Plaintiff's behavior here is also bordering on vexatious, as all these instant motions are duplicative, which also weighs against him. Duplicative filings are a hallmark of a vexatious litigant. Plaintiff's collection of sealed court orders, that he has filed here under seal, shows only that plaintiff has engaged in campaign to conceal his litigation history across the country. Plaintiff's behavior may make it more difficult for other courts (and the public) to find his litigation history, which could act to conceal future vexatious litigation or behavior. As noted earlier in this Order, other courts have deemed plaintiff a vexatious litigant in the past, so this is already an issue of public concern.

Regarding plaintiff's request to seal his new motions, since his motions are unrelated to the underlying case, he need only make a good cause showing to rebut the presumption that the public has a right to access the documents. Plaintiff has established good cause rebutting the presumption of a public right to access instant application and motion to seal. Plaintiff's motion contains highly personal information, including plaintiff's new address and other sealed orders. I cautiously grant plaintiff's request to file the instant motions under seal. I warn plaintiff, however, that if he continues to file duplicative and vexatious motions in this case, I will not hesitate to sanction him. I deny all other relief that plaintiff seeks in his motion.