Discovery - Ex Parte Delta International Machinery Corporation

In Ex parte Delta International Machinery Corporation, [Ms. 1091049, Jul. 29, 2011] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), the Supreme Court granted Defendant's petition for a writ of mandamus directing a circuit court to vacate an order that had granted a plaintiff's motion seeking access to and inspection of certain technology under the defendants control. The plaintiff, Brandon Landrum, had been injured when the blade of a portable bench saw manufactured by Delta came into contact with his hand. Landrum filed suit against Delta seeking damages under AMELD. Landrum filed a motion to inspect alleging that Delta, in a joint-venture with other manufacturers, had developed "flesh-sensing technology" that can recognize when a saw blade comes into contact with human flesh, and the blade will automatically be diverted or stopped in an effort to avoid further injury. In opposition to the motion, Delta argued that the technology developed by the joint venture was not discoverable because it did not exist at the time the saw that injured Landrum was manufactured and was, therefore, not relevant. Further, the technology was a highly confidential trade secret. The circuit court granted Landrum's motion, and Delta filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court held that circuit court had exceeded its discretion in granting Landrum's motion because the flesh sensing technology was both a trade secret and because it was not relevant to Landrum's claims since it did not exist at the time the machine that injured Landrum had been manufactured.
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