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Arizona – New Discovery Rules | John Belanger

Effective July 1, 2018

New Rules of Civil Procedure are taking effect in Arizona on July 1, 2018.  The new Rules will change how discovery works in civil litigation in the state.  Here is a sneak peek at the changes that will impact your file handling the most:

Tiered Discovery

  • How much discovery is allowed in a case will now depend on the amount and type of relief sought
  • Cases will be assigned to one of three tiers
  • Parties can agree on a tier assignment, the court can assign a tier, or a tier can be assigned based on the amount of damages, or a combination of monetary and non-monetary damages

Tier Characteristics

  • Tier 1 – Most low-complexity insurance cases will fall in this tier. Automobile tort claims, premises liability, insurance coverage claims.
  • Tier 2 – Intermediate complexity cases. Cases involving expert testimony, multiple theories of liability, or cross-claims and counterclaims.  A catch-all category for cases that do not fit in Tiers 1 or 3.
  • Tier 3 – Complex cases, including class actions, antitrust cases, construction defect, medical malpractice, products liability, etc.

Tiers By Amount and Type of Relief

  • Tier 1 cases are cases with less than $50,000 in claimed damages
  • Tier 2 cases are cases with between $50,000 and $300,000 in claimed damages, or cases with less than $300,000 in claimed damages and non-monetary relief, such as injunctive or declaratory relief
  • Tier 3 cases are cases with more than $300,000 in claimed damages

Discovery Limits By Tier

  • Tier 1 cases are allowed 5 total hours of fact witness depositions, 120 days to complete discovery, and 5 non-uniform interrogatories and 5 requests for production per side
  • Tier 2 cases are allowed 15 total hours of fact witness depositions, 180 days to complete discovery, and 10 non-uniform interrogatories and 10 requests for production per side
  • Tier 3 cases are allowed 30 total hours of fact witness depositions, 240 days to complete discovery, and 20 non-uniform interrogatories and 10 requests for production per side
  • New expert disclosure guidelines apply depending on tier assignment. Only Tier 3 cases require a written expert report (unless the parties stipulate or the court orders).  Other case types require limited expert information be disclosed, including a summary of the expert’s opinions.

New Provisions Regarding Discovery of Electronically Stored Information (ESI)

  • Whenever the existence of ESI is disclosed or discovered, the parties must “promptly confer and attempt to agree” on how ESI will be produced, including system types, search protocols, and form of production
  • A party need not disclose ESI that is unduly burdensome or expensive to access because of a consistent, good-faith records retention policy
  • Without a showing of good cause to the court, a party is not entitled to ESI that requires forensic restoration

Takeaways

  • The new Rules present some possible challenges regarding agreement on tier assignments
  • To avoid disputes where possible, the parties are now required to meet “at the earliest practicable time” to discuss tier assignments, disclosures, and “other cooperative activity” such as stipulations
  • In order to expedite discovery disputes, parties are now required to submit a joint dispute statement to the court, with a limit of 1 ½ pages per party. Motions, responses, and replies will only be permitted if ordered by the court

The new Rules will inevitably lead to questions as litigation moves through the discovery process.  As always, we are here to answer any questions you may have, and to work with you to manage cases effectively.  Please do not hesitate to contact our office.