New Arizona Case - Pleadings
Posted by: Ted Schmidt
November 07, 2008
Cullan v. Auto Owners Ins., No CV07-0402-PR ___ Ariz. Adv. Rep. ____ (Ariz. Sup. Ct.) (Justice McGregor). RULE 8 OF ARIZONA RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE REQUIRES COMPLAINT BE PLED WITH SUFFICIENT SPECIFICITY TO SHOW PLEADER IS ENTITLED TO RELIEF.
The plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident and received benefits from a third party's insurance policy, thereafter filing an underinsured motorist claim under his mother's policy with Auto Owners on his mother's Dodge Caravan, which was the vehicle he was operating when the accident occurred.
Auto-Owners denied the plaintiff's claim. Subsequently, the plaintiff sued Auto-Owners for breach of contract and bad faith. Auto-Owners moved to dismiss under Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)- Failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The trial court granted the motion.
In analyzing whether or not the trial court and the court of appeals were correct in dismissing plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim, the court first recognized that the Arizona supreme court, and only the supreme court has the authority to "make rules relative to all procedural matters in any court. . . and interpret rules of procedure." Thus, the Arizona Supreme Court held it was not bound by the more liberal standard announced recently by the United States Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007) despite the almost identical language of Rule 8 in the Federal Rules and under the Arizona Rules.
The Arizona Supreme Court then went on to find that Rule 8 does "not permit a trial or appellate court to speculate about hypothetical facts that might entitle the plaintiff to relief . . . . courts are limited to considering the well-pled facts and all reasonable interpretations of those facts." In contrast, the Supreme Court in Twombly held that "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove [no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id . At 45-46.