Arizona Legislative Summary

Author: J.P. Harrington

Recently, the Arizona legislature considered several bills which have varied implications to insurance law in this jurisdiction.

HB2076 Supreme Court Justices, Number, Election of Justices (Legal Representation, Corporations, Partnerships)
The original bill proposed permitting a full-time officer or authorized employee of a partnership, corporation, or an active general partner or authorized full-time employee of a partnership to represent the corporation or partnership in Superior Court or Justice Court. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary and Rules Committee which adopted a strike everything amendment replacing the language of the bill with language proposing an increase of the number of Justices on the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven, establishing a six-year term for each Justice, and requiring that Justices be elected. Currently, there are five justices on the Arizona Supreme Court, who are appointed by the Governor. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee of the whole passed the bill and it awaits further action in the House. The bill is likely dead for this legislative session unless it is revived through a strike-everything amendment to another bill.

HB2172 Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Requirements
Proposed to amend A.R.S §§ 28-4009 and 28-4084, to increase the minimum amount of motor vehicle liability insurance from $15,000 to $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in one accident; from $30,000 to $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in one accident; and from $10,000 to $25,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident. The billed failed in the House Insurance Committee and is likely dead for this legislative session unless it is revived through a strike-everything amendment to another bill.

HB2334 Unfair Worker’s Compensation Claim Processing
Proposed to amend A.R.S. § 23-930 related to the industrial commission’s role in administering claims of unfair processing or bad faith by an employer or insurance carrier concerning the administration of worker’s compensation claims, as well as grounds for pursuing such claims. The bill is assigned to the House Insurance Committee.

HB2335 Insurance Compliance Audit Privilege
Proposed to change the chapter heading of title 20, chapter 24 of A.R.S from “Insurance Compliance Self-Evaluation Privilege” to “Insurance Compliance Audit Privilege” and to redefine the scope of the privilege. The proposed amendment provides greater protection to insurers by including insurance compliance audit documents prepared as a result of or in connection with an insurance compliance audit and identified specifically as part of an audit. Individuals involved with the audit or hired to perform the audit may not be examined in any civil or administrative proceeding as to the audit or any audit document. The billed passed in the House and the Senate. It was sent to the Governor on March 17, 2015.

HB2341 Insurance, Cancellation, Nonrenewal Mailing Proof
Proposed to amend A.R.S. §§ 20-1656 and 20-1678 and define how an insurer proves that it notified its insured of the insurer’s intent to cancel or not renew the policy. The bill requires both proof of mailing and notice, which can be satisfied by: 1) electronic delivery consistent with statutes relating to electronic transactions; 2) mailing by first class mail using an intelligent mail barcode; or 3) mailing by electronic means with a USPS electronic postmark or other electronic mail delivery service that provides electronic postmarks substantially similar to a USPS electronic postmark. It is before the House Insurance and Rules Committee with no action being taken at this time.

HB2374 Wrongful Death Actions – Disqualified Party
Proposed to amend A.R.S. § 12-612 and add a subsection that would disqualify a person from recovering wrongful death benefits under the statute when that person has been found guilty of, or pled guilty or no contest to, intentionally causing the death of the decedent. The House passed the bill adding an amendment detailing specific crimes that would prohibit the claimant from recovering (first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, child or vulnerable adult abuse) and that prohibition can be based on conviction for similar crimes in other states. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill and it awaits action in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

HB2433 Rescue Operation Personnel, Limited Liability
Proposed to provide immunity to a member of an organized search and rescue team for the injury or death of the subject of the search, unless the person engaged in the search acts with gross negligence. The House passed the bill. The Senate Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee approved the bill and it awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

HB2578 Real Property, Purchaser Dwelling Actions
Proposed to change the statute of limitations for actions and arbitrations against a person who develops or develops and sells real property from eight to six years after substantial completion of the improvement to the property. It also provides that a seller who receives written notice of claim has a right to repair or replace any alleged construction defects after providing written notice to the purchasers of the seller’s intent to repair or replace, and a purchaser cannot file a dwelling action until the seller has completed all intended repairs or addition to a repairs or replacements. Sellers are authorized to offer cash or other consideration instead of or in addition to a repair or replacement. The House and Senate passed the bill. It was transmitted to the Governor on March 19, 2015.

HB2603 Personal Injury Actions, Asbestos, Requirements
Proposed to establish various requirements and processes for asbestos exposure related claims. The bill includes penalties for failure to timely provide the required information. The House passed the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill and it awaits further action in the Senate.

SB1013 Employment Discrimination, Enforcement, Damages
Proposed to amend A.R.S. §§ 41-1461 and 41-1481 and would increase the statute of limitations from one to two years for the filing of employment discrimination charges and would also permit the recovering party in an unlawful employment practice action to recover punitive or compensatory damages if specified conditions are met. The bill is assigned to the Senate Government and Rules Committees with no action taken at this time.

SB1180 Traffic Accidents, Reports, Damage Amount
Proposed to increase the minimum dollar amount of property damage for which an officer must complete a written motor vehicle accident report from $1,000 to $5,000. The Senate Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee passed the bill and it awaits action in the Senate Transportation Committee.

SB1307 Notice of Claim, Public Entity, Exception
Proposed to exempt from the notice of claim requirements set forth in A.R.S. § 12-821.01 any claims alleging medical malpractice that resulted in the death of a person who was being treated for mental health illness. The bill awaits action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB1316 Subpoena Compliance, copying, clerical costs
Proposed to change the meaning of reasonable costs in copying charges incurred in complying with a non-party subpoena duces tecum, increasing the amount from ten cents to 25 cents per page. The Senate passed the bill. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill and it awaits action of the House Committee of the Whole.

SB1327 Employment Discrimination, Prohibition
Proposed to expand the list of attributes for which a person cannot be discriminated against in employment practices to include gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation and would add an exemption for religious organizations. The bill has not been assigned to a committee.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JP Harrington Bisceglia is Senior Counsel at Tyson & Mendes. She specializes in insurance coverage disputes, bad faith, medical and other professional liability claims, and general civil litigation. Contact JP at (602) 386-5656 or jpharrington@tysonmendes.com.

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