Navigating the New Tiered System of Case Management in Arizona

Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure

There are new Rules in place that radically change how cases are litigated

Effective July 31, 2018, the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure were amended to classify cases into three tiers, or classifications.  The tiers are based on estimated case value, and were designed to eliminate unnecessary discovery and make discovery “Proportional to Case Value.”

This came after years of study and discussion and has been welcomed by the Plaintiff’s bar.  The three tiers are as follows and apply to Superior Court cases only:
Tier 1:  $0 to $50,000
Tier 2:   $50,001 to $300,000
Tier 3:   Greater than $300,000
The Tier has to be designated in the original case filing.  To some extent this is difficult, but amendments are allowed if it later appears that value was overstated or understated.

Under the old rules, discovery was the same, regardless of case value.  This led to many abuses by the defense bar to “bury” the plaintiff processing a small case with vexing and unneeded written questions and requests for admissions and requests for production.

Under the new rules discovery is limited as follows:
Tier 1:  5 written questions, 10 requests for admission and 5 requests for production.  Total deposition time is limited to 5 hours per side.  Discovery has to be completed within 120 days of case filing.
Tier 2:  10 written questions, 10 requests for admission and 10 requests for production.  Total deposition time is limited to 15 hours per side.  Discovery is to be completed within 180 days of case filing.
Tier 3:   20 written questions, 20 requests for admission and 10 requests for production.  Total deposition time is limited to 30 hours per side.  Discovery is to be completed within 240 days of case filing.

Any need to exceed these limits can be accomplished by agreement of counsel, or absent agreement, by a showing of “good cause” to the court on motion.

The amended rules are designed to speed case resolution and at the same time allow the parties ample time to conduct the discovery needed to adequately present the case.

The amended rules also included rules applying to medical negligence cases as well.   The rule now requires plaintiffs to supply the defense with a signed release to allow the defendant to obtain medical records from the original source.  This has never been required before, but has been needed as HIPPA requires an authorization before any medical records can be released.

The amended rules also require that the party obtaining the records supply those records to all parties “at their sole expense.”  No more excessive copying charges flying back and forth which for the most part cancelled each other out anyway.

The Rockafellow Law Firm has embraced these new rules and has reminded several members of the defense bar in the last 5 weeks that excessive discovery will no longer be tolerated.  Our calendaring system has been re-vamped to allow for the shortened discovery time periods to make sure court deadlines are not overlooked.

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