Ex parte Peter Ferrari et al.Annotate this Case
Peter Ferrari was employed by DR Horton, Inc. - Birmingham as a land-acquisition manager for its Gulf Coast division. DR Horton asserted that it gave Ferrari confidential information concerning its business and land-acquisition strategies, including its geographical markets for expansion, and that it empowered Ferrari to arrange land purchases for DR Horton. DR Horton asserted that it received information that Ferrari had supplied third parties with confidential information from DR Horton without DR Horton's permission, including DR Horton's planned land acquisitions, future real estate developments, markets for expansion, and plans for construction. DR Horton also claimed it received information that Ferrari had benefited from DR Horton land acquisitions apart from his employment compensation. DR Horton asked for the tax returns of the Ferrari, his wife, his business Ferrari Capital Partners, LLC, and the entities that allegedly received DR Horton's confidential information: FH Properties, LLC; P6 Holdings, LLC; and Prince 5 Holdings, LLC (collectively, Ferrari defendants) in order to verify his assertions, but Ferrari refused to provide such information. DR Horton subsequently contacted those defendant third parties. Brad Zeitlin agreed to meet with DR Horton representatives to discuss real-property transactions involving DR Horton and Ferrari. According to a witness present during the interview, Zeitlin admitted that he had benefited financially from "tying up" property DR Horton wanted to purchase and then selling it to DR Horton. wanted. DR Horton terminated Ferrari's employment. DR Horton filed a verified petition requesting preaction discovery from the Ferrari defendants. The trial court granted the petition. The Ferrari defendants petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to order the trial court to vacate its order and to dismiss DR Horton's Rule 27(a) petition. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in failing to hold a hearing on DR Horton's Rule 27(a) petition before granting the petition. Given that DR Horton expressly sought preaction discovery not for the purpose of perpetuating evidence, but for the purpose of evaluating its claims against the Ferrari defendants, the Court granted the Ferrari defendants' petition for a writ of mandamus, and instructed the trial court to dismiss DR Horton's petition for preaction discovery.