2015 Changes to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure

Author: Lena Pond

January 1, 2015 brought a variety of changes to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, which can have real consequences if they are not closely followed.

2015 Changes to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 5(c)(2) was amended to allow service of documents via the electronic court filing system, AZ Turbo Court. It is important to note that service via AZ Turbo Court is more costly than simply mailing the documents ($6 per filing). It is also important to note that this rule change does not apply to initial pleadings or unrepresented (pro per) parties.

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 67, sections (d), (e), and (f) have been abrogated. This change eliminates the requirement that plaintiffs who do not own property in Arizona post cost bonds in the trial court. The constitutionality of this requirement had long been questioned as being an impediment to due process.

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 53 sections (a) and (b) were amended to clarify the court’s authority to appoint special masters and to provide guidance for objecting to a particular special master. This is important because special masters can be costly, and previously the rule provided very little guidance on how to challenge the appointment of a special master. With the rule change, if a party makes an objection to the appointment of a special master, the court must provide the parties with notice and an opportunity to be heard. In addition, if the court appoints a special master over the objection of a party, it must make the following three findings on the record: (1) the appointment was warranted based on the criteria set forth in the rule; (2) the benefit of the appointment outweighs the likely expense of the appointment; and (3) the appointment was warranted considering the parties’ ability to pay.

Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 55(b)(1) was amended to clarify when prior notice and a hearing are required after default is entered on a liquidated claim. The Rule now provides that a court may enter a default judgment on a liquidated claim without a hearing if a defendant has been defaulted for failure to plead or otherwise defend. A liquidated claim is one with a certain amount and often comes up in contract and employment law cases.

In addition, there was a proposed rule petition to revise Rule 26(b)(4)(C), which dictates the compensation provided to expert witnesses for deposition and trial testimony. The proposed rule petition would have provided for compensation to treating physicians and other medical providers as experts, and that rule petition was denied. This is important because treating physicians often demand expert witness fees for deposition testimony, but under the current statute they not entitled to be compensated as an expert.

There was also one important to change to the Arizona Supreme Court Rules. Rule 111, Arizona Supreme Court was revised to permit citation to Arizona memorandum decisions and unpublished decisions in foreign jurisdictions for persuasive value only, subject to the following: (1) The decision was issued on or after January 1, 2015; (2) No published decision adequately addresses the issue; and (3) Citation is not to a depublished decision or depublished part of an opinion. In addition, unpublished decisions of other jurisdictions may be cited as allowed in that jurisdiction as long as the decision meets the above criteria.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lena Pond is a graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. She specializes in insurance defense, insurance coverage disputes, insurance bad faith, professional liability, and general civil litigation. Contact her at 602-386-5654 or lpond@tysonmendes.com.

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