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A Petition For Writ Of Mandamus Is Not The Proper Remedy For Requesting Review Of Discovery Orders

In Ex parte Farley, — So.3d —-, 2019 WL 2558824 (Ala. Civ. App. June 21, 2019), the Employee, Randy Farley (“Farley”) filed suit for workers’ compensation benefits against his Employer, Transport America, Inc. (“Transport America”) in Etowah County, Alabama.  As part of its discovery requests, Transport America asked that Farley execute releases for obtaining certain records, including his Social Security disability records, tax records from the Alabama Department of Internal Revenue and records from Alabama Department of Labor.  Farley refused, arguing that the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure did not require execution of releases and that such a requirement would result in an overly broad release of information. 

On February 26, 2019, the trial court entered an Order stating that since Farley was alleging a vocational loss, Transport America was entitled to obtain records by executed release and ordering Farley to sign said releases.  Farley filed a Motion to Reconsider on March 1, 2019 and the trial court denied Farley’s Motion. 

On March 25, 2019, Farley filed his petition for writ of mandamus from the February 26, 2019 order, and Transport America responded to the petition, in part, on the basis that the matter was not appropriate for review by writ of mandamus. 

The appellate court agreed with Transport America, stating that its review of discovery orders by writ of mandamus would only be allowed in the following exceptional cases:  1) where there is a clear legal right to the order sought;  2) an imperative duty upon the respondent to perform, and refusal to do so;  3) lack of another adequate remedy; and 4) properly invoked jurisdiction of the court.” Ex parte Farley, quoting Ex parte Alfab, Inc., 586 So. 2d 889, 891 (Ala. 1991). 

The appellate court noted that the trial judge clearly determined that the signed releases would allow Transport America to obtain discoverable information relevant to the parties’ dispute and that Farley had not demonstrated that this dispute was so exceptional that appellate review by way of a petition for a writ of mandamus was necessary.  Farley did not demonstrate a “clear legal right” to the relief requested and accordingly, the appellate court denied his petition.