NIAGARA INDUSTRIES, INC. and RHEEM SALES COMPANY, Petitioners,
GIAQUINTO ELECTRIC LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, GUARDIAN AMERICAN PROPERTIES, LLC, f/k/a GUARDIAN MERICAN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES OF BROWARD COUNTY, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, 20 PLUMBING SERVICES, INC., a Florida Corporation, FUENMAYOR & LINDA ENTERPRISES, LLC, d/b/a ACE FLOOD & INSPECTIONS, LLC, a Florida Limited Liability Company, MARK BECKERMAN, individually, and SCOTT WESLEY FRANK, Sr., individually, Respondents.
UPON RELEASE; NO MOTION FOR REHEARING WILL BE ENTERTAINED;
MANDATE ISSUED SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH OPINION.
for writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court for the
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Patti
Englander-Henning, Judge; L.T. Case No. CACE 16-11632 05.
H. Tutt, Thomas J. McCausland, and Evan Roberts of Conroy
Simberg, Hollywood, for Petitioners.
M. Schwarz of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Plantation,
for Respondent H20 Plumbing Services, Inc.
R. Goldsmith of Glen R. Goldsmith, P.A., Miami, for
Respondent Giaquinto Electric, LLC.
Armando P. Rubio of Fields Howell LLP, Miami, for Respondent
Guardian American Properties, LLC.
ON MOTION FOR REHEARING AND/OR CLARIFICATION
Respondent, H20 Plumbing Services, Inc.'s motion for
rehearing, grant the motion for clarification in part,
withdraw our prior opinion, and issue this opinion in its
proceeding, the Petitioners-Niagara Industries, Inc. and
Rheem Sales Company-challenge the second prong of the
two-part test for disclosure of trade secrets. The issue
before us is whether the production of material containing
trade secrets was "reasonably necessary." We
conclude the circuit court departed from the essential
requirements of law when it ordered the Petitioners to
disclose their trade secrets, because the party requesting
the disclosure failed to present any evidence to establish
that the production of the privileged information was
reasonably necessary. We therefore quash the order.
Wesley Frank, Sr. purchased a tankless water heater from
Rheem Sales Company, and designed by Niagara Industries, Inc.
At some point later, Mr. Frank experienced problems with the
water heater and hired H20 Plumbing Services, Inc. While Mr.
Frank's water heater was being repaired, it exploded,
causing Mr. Frank physical injury. As a result of the
injuries, he filed a four-count complaint against the
Petitioners, asserting claims of negligence and strict
liability against both.
the pendency of Mr. Frank's lawsuit against the
Petitioners, the court required them to disclose what they
describe as "their confidential and highly confidential
documents, including Niagara's trade secrets, relating to
the manufacturing and testing of the subject tankless water
heater." Pursuant to a protective order that permitted
only certain people to view them, the Petitioners disclosed
the documents. Testimony indicates the documents were
disclosed to a total of four people. The case proceeded to a
jury trial. One of the experts permitted to view the
documents testified at the trial and, in this case, the
circuit court stated that the expert "opined at trial
that the product failed in an unreasonably safe manner."
However, the parties dispute whether the actual documents
were ever presented to the jury. Regardless, prior to the
jury returning a verdict, the parties filed a stipulation of
dismissal, which the court accepted. At the conclusion of the
case, the previously-disclosed documents were returned to the
the dismissal of the lawsuit against the Petitioners, Mr.
Frank filed a new lawsuit against Giaquinto Electric, which
he later amended to add claims against Guardian American
Properties, LLC, H20 Plumbing Services, Inc., Fuenmayor &
Linda Enterprises, LLC, and Mark Beckerman.
American Properties, LLC, one of the defendants in the second
lawsuit, served a notice of production from non-parties and a
subpoena duces tecum without deposition, indicating they
intended to seek various documents from the Petitioners.
Among the documents at issue were those contained in the
seventy-ninth category of documents sought, which asked for
those documents from Mr. Frank's first lawsuit: "Any
and all documents received pursuant to any subpoenas and/or
request for copies in the case Scott Wesley Frank v. Niagara
Industries, Inc. and Rheem Sales, Case. No. ...