In Re Deere & Co. (pdf), No. 08-1076 (Tex. Dec. 18, 2009)(per curiam)(orig. proceeding) (mandamus
granted)(trial court’s order compelling production of documents found overly broad in temporal scope)
IN RE DEERE & COMPANY D/B/A JOHN DEERE COMPANY AND JOHN DEERE CONSTRUCTION &
FORESTRY COMPANY; from Johnson County; 10th district (10-08-00436-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 12-22-08)
stay order issued January 14, 2009, lifted
Pursuant to Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 52.8(c), without hearing oral argument, the Court conditionally
grants the petition for writ of mandamus.
Per Curiam Opinion [pdf]
View Electronic Briefs filed in IN RE DEERE & CO. D/B/A JOHN DEERE CO. and JOHN DEERE CONSTR. &
In Re Deere & Co (Tex. 2009) (orig. mandamus prodeeding)(per curiam)
In this discovery dispute, we consider whether a trial court’s order compelling production of documents was
overly broad. Because the order neglected to limit discovery to a reasonable time period, we find that it was.
Accordingly, we conditionally grant the relator’s petition for writ of mandamus and direct the trial court to vacate
that part of the order.
Arturo Martinez suffered severe injuries when he fell under a John Deere 410D backhoe loader. Allegedly,
the step on which Martinez was standing failed, breaking off under his weight while the backhoe was moving. In
the ensuing suit, Martinez alleged several legal theories, including products liability. Martinez served requests
for production on Deere, including a request seeking “all [non-governmental] documents of customer
complaints received by [Deere] relative to the sidestep on any model backhoe.” Deere objected to the request
as overly broad, and Martinez moved to compel production. The trial court conducted a hearing, and the
parties agreed to limit production to documents relating to models with similar handles and step assemblies,
and only going back approximately 12 to 15 years (when production began on the 410D).1 At the trial court’s
request, Martinez then filed a proposed order. The proposed order included more than 30 product lines such
as backhoes, tractors, and other loaders and did not include a time limit.
The trial court held an additional hearing to determine whether models in the proposed order in fact had
handles and step assemblies sufficiently similar to the 410D. Deere presented no evidence to disprove such
similarity. Martinez, on the other hand, explained that Martinez’s expert reported research in support of the
relevant similarities on these models. After the hearing, Deere wrote to the trial court explaining that the 410D
step assembly had been modified in 1996 (approximately 12 years earlier) along with a handful of other
backhoe loader models, but provided no evidence in support. The trial court then entered Martinez’s proposed
order. The Tenth Court of Appeals denied relator’s petition for mandamus. ___ S.W.3d ___ (Tex. App.—Waco
Mandamus will issue if the relator establishes a clear abuse of discretion for which there is no adequate
remedy by appeal. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135–36 (Tex. 2004). “Generally, the scope
of discovery is within the trial court’s discretion, but the trial court must make an effort to impose reasonable
discovery limits.” In re Graco Children’s Prods., Inc., 210 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2006) (per curiam) (internal
quotations omitted). An order that compels overly broad discovery is an abuse of discretion for which
mandamus is the proper remedy. Id. Whether discovery is overly broad in products liability cases depends on
whether the order covers products relevant to the case and is reasonable in its scope. Id. at 601; see also Tex.
R. Civ. P. 192.3 (discovery should be of information “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of
admissible evidence”). “Discovery orders requiring production from an unreasonably long period . . . are
impermissibly overbroad.” In re CSX Corp., 124 S.W.3d 149, 152 (Tex. 2003) (citing In re Am. Optical Corp.,
988 S.W.2d 711, 713 (1998) (concluding that a discovery order was overly broad by requiring production of
“virtually all documents regarding its products for a fifty-year period”)). The party objecting to discovery “must
present any evidence necessary to support the objection.” Tex. R. Civ. P. 193.4 (a).
Here, the trial court made a proper effort to narrow discovery from “any model backhoe,” as stated in the
request for production, to only those products with handles and step assemblies similar to the allegedly
defective 410D. Deere presented no evidence to meet its burden of supporting its objection, failing to show that
any of the specific product lines lacked such assemblies.2 Thus, it was not error for the trial court to permit
discovery as to the list of product lines proposed by Martinez. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 193.4 (a). However, the trial
court’s order nevertheless exceeded the scope of permissible discovery by neglecting to set a reasonable time
limit. See In re CSX, 124 S.W.3d at 152. Indeed, at the initial hearing, Martinez twice specifically requested
production going back only 15 years. Because compliance with the trial court’s order could require Deere to
produce documents going back decades, neglecting to include a reasonable time limit was an abuse of
Therefore, without hearing oral argument, Tex. R. App. P. 52.8(c), we conditionally grant Deere’s petition
for writ of mandamus and direct the trial court to vacate that part of its December 5, 2008 order that compels
Deere to produce documents relating to lawsuits or complaints about the models Martinez identified as
potentially relevant without setting a reasonable time limit. We trust that the trial court will comply, and the writ
will issue only if it fails to do so.
OPINION DELIVERED: December 18, 2009
1 Regarding the inclusion of handles in addition to steps, Deere conceded: “The step that a person would
actually step on to get onto the tractor, to mount the tractor, and any hand device he would hold to assist in
either getting on or off the tractor, you know, we could probably do that without a lot of burdensome [sic] to do
that. That probably would be acceptable.”
2 We note that while Deere has presented such evidence to us in an affidavit, the trial court had no such
evidence before it.
3 We offer no opinion as to whether an order limiting production to documents going back 12 or 15 years would
have been reasonable under the circumstances.