Ex parte Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc.Annotate this Case
Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc. ("Harbor Freight"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Lowndes Circuit Court to vacate its order granting a motion to compel discovery in an action Thomas and Juanita Webster ("the Websters") brought against Harbor Freight and others and to enter a protective order involving the requested discovery. The Websters previously hired Randall "Bubba" Wills and Jason Little to construct and install an elevator system in their house. In November 2016, Wills repaired the elevator system. To complete the repairs, Wills purchased from Harbor Freight a "Haul Master" 4,000-pound lifting block. According to Harbor Freight, its instruction manual for the lifting block expressly stated that the lifting block should not be used to transport people in an elevator system. Despite a posted warning, Wills tested the elevator system and rode in the elevator basket with Thomas Webster after Wills had installed the lifting block and completed the repairs. In December 2016, the Websters, along with their son Robbie, were riding in the elevator basket when it fell. To the extent that Harbor Freight sought mandamus relief on the grounds that the trial court's July 16, 2020, order granting the Websters' motion to compel failed to limit discovery, the Supreme Court determined the petition for mandamus relief was premature because Harbor Freight failed to seek a protective order raising the need for those limitations on discovery after the trial court entered the order granting the Websters' motion to compel. To the extent that Harbor Freight sought mandamus relief based on the trial court's implicit denial of its motion to adopt its proposed protective order, the Court determined Harbor Freight failed to demonstrate that any information that might be disclosed by providing the requested documents warrants the protections outlined in the proposed protective order. Accordingly, Harbor Freight's petition was denied.