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2017 Update Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure

Several new changes to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect on January 1, 2017. This article highlights and summarizes the main substantive rule changes impacting practice in Arizona’s courts.

Service

Rule 4 was amended, reducing the number of days to serve a summons and complaint from 120 days to 90 days.

Filings

Rule 5.2 now specifies court filings must be prepared in 13-point font. Rule 5.2(c) now requires electronic filings to be in text-searchable .pdf, .odt, or .docx format, or another format permitted by an Administrative Order, with text-searchable pdf preferred. Rule 5.2(c)(3) encourages, but does not require, the use of bookmarks and hyperlinks in filings.

Time Computation

Rule 6 adopted the federal computation rule requiring “counting backwards” when a rule or order requires an act to be done a certain number of days before trial or another event. Rules 6(a)(3) and (4) now provide if the last day of the period falls on a legal holiday or weekend, the act must be done on the first court-day before the legal holiday or weekend. New Rule 6(d) clarifies when an order requires a party to take action within a certain time, the time is computed from the date the clerk filed the order.

Certification of Good Faith Consultation

New Rule 7.1(h) requires a certification of good faith consultation, to be used when parties meet and confer as required under Rules 11, 26, 37, or 56.

Motion Length

Under Rule 7.1, principal and response briefs are now limited to 17 pages. Replies are now limited to 11 pages.

Discovery Scope

The “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” language has been removed from new Rule 26.1(a)(9). In new Rule 26(b)(1)(A), the “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” language has been replaced to provide that information “need not be admissible to be discoverable.” The scope of discovery under new Rule 26(b)(1)(A) has also been narrowed to that which is “relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case,” considering various enumerated factors.

Disclosure of Insurance Information

New Rule 26.1 now requires disclosure not only of insurance and other agreements under which a third party may be required to satisfy a judgment, but also disclosure of the existence and contents of any coverage denials or reservation of rights, and the remaining dollar limits of coverage.

Written Discovery Response Length

The time for responding to interrogatories, production requests, and admission requests is now 30 days.

Interrogatories

New Rule 33 clarifies objections must be stated with specificity and if only part of an interrogatory is objectionable, the responding party is still required to answer the non-objectionable portion.

Production Requests

New Rule 34 requires a responding party objecting to a request, but producing some materials, to state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of the objection. Further, a party objecting to part of a request must specify the objectionable part and produce or permit inspection of the other requested materials.

Depositions

Rule 32(d)(3)(E) now explicitly prohibits conferences between a deponent and his or her counsel while a question is pending unless the conference is necessary to preserve a privilege.

Change of Judge

Now under Rule 42.1, if a party wants a judge change, the party is required to give notice within 90 days after that party first appears in the case. If there is a judge assignment fewer than 10 days before the 90 days expires or later, a party who has not already exercised its right to a change of judge, may do so within 10 days of the reassignment or notice of reassignment, whichever is later.

Attorneys’ Fees

Rule 54 was amended to now require a party seeking attorneys’ fees to make a claim for such fees in the pleadings or in a Rule 12 motion filed before the movant’s responsive pleading. Under amended Rule 54, the deadline for seeking attorneys’ fees now depends on the nature of the underlying decision. If a decision disposes the entire case and judgment will be entered under Rule 54(c), the motion for attorneys’ fees must be filed within 20 days after the decision is filed. If a decision disposes of all claims relating to a particular party and a Rule 54(b) determination is requested, a motion for attorneys’ fees must be filed within 20 days after any motion or proposed form of judgment seeking entry of judgment under Rule 54(b) is served. For all other decisions or judgments, a motion for attorneys’ fees may be deferred until the earlier of 20 days after any decision is filed that resolves the remaining claims in the case, or 20 days after the action is dismissed.

Costs

Under amended Rule 54(f), if a prevailing party seeks both costs and attorneys’ fees, the cost request must be filed at the time as the fee application. Amended Rule 54 also clarifies that if a party objects to a request for costs, the party seeking costs may file a reply.

Arbitration

Under new Rule 74(b), parties to an arbitration matter must now exchange disclosures within the time provided by Rule 26.1.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Arman Nafisi is an associate in Tyson & Mendes’ Phoenix, AZ office. Mr. Nafisi specializes in insurance defense, personal injury, professional liability, and general civil litigation. Contact him at (602)385-5656 or anafisi@tysonmendes.com.