Ex parte Reynolds Metals Co
In Ex parte Reynolds Metals Co., 710 So. 2d 897 (Ala. 1998), the Court determined that orders compelling discovery are reviewable by mandamus petition only if the objecting party has properly moved for a protective order pursuant to Rule 26(c), Ala. R. Civ. P.
In Reynolds Metals, the plaintiff sued Reynolds Metals, alleging that it had negligently caused him to suffer asbestos-related injuries while he was employed by Reynolds Metals in 1965. 710 So. 2d at 898. In relation to these claims, the plaintiff requested, through the discovery rules, "all documents and information Reynolds had in its possession concerning the hazards of asbestos." Id. Reynolds Metals objected to these requests on the ground that they were overly broad and unduly burdensome. Id.
The plaintiff moved to compel discovery, and Reynolds Metals further objected. Id. The trial court held a hearing on the motion to compel; after the hearing, the court ordered Reynolds Metals to produce, within 21 days, numerous documents located at its many facilities throughout the world. Id. at 899.
Without moving for a protective order, but before the 21 days had expired, Reynolds Metals filed a mandamus petition with the Court, asserting that the trial court had abused its discretion. Id. The Court held that the petition was premature -- that a writ of mandamus will issue only when there is no other adequate remedy, and Reynolds Metals had not pursued its remedy available through requesting a protective order from the trial court. Id.
The running of the 21-day period had been stayed because of the filing of the mandamus petition. The Court dissolved the stay and denied the writ, indicating that Reynolds Metals could go back to the trial court and request a protective order before the expiration of the 21 days, and then, if the Court denied it, Reynolds Metals could thereafter petition the Court for mandamus review. Id.
Simply put, Reynolds Metals stands for the proposition that a party dissatisfied with the trial court's ruling on a motion to compel discovery must first make a timely motion for a protective order, so as to create a record to support the essential allegation that the petitioner has no other adequate remedy. Id.
The motion for a protective order pursuant to Rule 26(c) and any subsequent mandamus petition must be filed within the time period set for production by the trial court in its order compelling discovery. (See Reynolds Metals, 710 So. 2d at 899 ("Under Rule 26(c), Ala. R. Civ. P.)