Notice of Nonparty At Fault With Disclosures Explaining Basis of Allegation Can Be Sufficient

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Law Updates: Mesa Community College contracted for the design and construction of a planetarium on campus. The defendant was a subsidiary of another sub-contractor, Spitz, on the job who allegedly damaged the roof installing a sound system. Defendant's expert engineer disclosed in his disclosure report that another sub on the job was at fault in causing the problem. Defendant then designated Sptiz as a nonparty at fault alleging in the notice that Sptiz was "negligent in the design." Thereafter defendant hired general contractor experts and in their disclosures further and specifically outlined Spitz' alleged fault in failing to communicate design changes to the installers of the sound system which allegedly caused the problem. Eighteen months later plaintiff moved to strike the Notice of Non Party at Fault as an insufficient designation that failed to adequately disclose the factual basis for the fault designation. The trial court granted the motion under rule of Civil Procedure 26 (b)(5). The Arizona Court of Appeals accepted special action jurisdiction and granted defendant relief from the order striking the designation.

"We hold that when a notice specifically identifies a nonparty at fault, and timely disclosures explain the factual basis for the allegation of fault, the documents must be read together and the notice may therefore be sufficient under Ariz. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(5). '

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