When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau refused to allow an attorney to attend an investigational hearing held in connection with several Civil Investigative Demands (CIDs) issued by the CFPB, the subjects of the investigation filed suit against the CFPB, along with a motion to seal the case.  Although the subjects voluntarily dismissed their complaint, the battle over the motion to seal continues. 

In October 2015, the federal district court ruled that sealing the entire case was not warranted, but ordered that the case be re-captioned as a John Doe case and permitted the plaintiffs to file redacted versions of the court documents.  The CFPB recently filed a motion urging the court to reconsider its ruling and to require the plaintiffs “to disclose their names and other identifying information as is required under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and this Court’s own Local Rules.” 

The CFPB argues that Plaintiffs’ “unsupported claims of reputational and economic harm” do not qualify as “exceptional circumstances,” which the CFPB claims are necessary to support the plaintiffs’ request “to proceed pseudonymously;” thus, the CFPB contends, “Plaintiffs fall short of proving that their need to proceed anonymously in this litigation outweighs the public’s right to know their names and other identifying information.”   

The CFPB also asserts in its motion that, shortly after the court issued its October 16, 2015 ruling, a request was submitted to the CFPB under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking a copy of the petition submitted by the plaintiffs.  Although the CFPB’s FOIA office initially released a redacted copy of the petition, the CFPB’s motion alternatively “requests clarification that the Court’s October 16, 2015 decision does not prevent the Bureau [from] complying with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq., by releasing the non-exempt portions of the petition that Plaintiffs submitted to the Bureau prior to this litigation.” 

Plaintiffs’ response to the CFPB’s motion is due on January 18.