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Flynn v. Campbell

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

July 19, 2016

DIANE M. FLYNN and ROBERT FLYNN, wife and husband, Plaintiffs/Appellants,
v.
SARAH W. CAMPBELL, Defendant/Appellee.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2014-055536 The Honorable Thomas L. LeClaire, Judge (Retired)

          Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A., Phoenix By Daryl Manhart, Melissa I. Julian Co-Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants

          Friedl & Richardson, Phoenix By Thomas M. Richardson Co-Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellants

          Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C., Phoenix By Jonathan P. Barnes, Jr. Counsel for Defendant/Appellee

          Judge Patricia K. Norris delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Lawrence F. Winthrop and Judge Kenton D. Jones joined.

          OPINION

          NORRIS, Judge.

         ¶1 This appeal arises out of an order entered by the superior court finding plaintiff/appellant Diane Flynn's negligence claim time barred because her amended complaint did not "relate back" to her original complaint under Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c). Because Flynn sued the wrong party, defendant/appellee Sarah Campbell's insurance carrier, based on a mistake cognizable under that rule, we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On October 17, 2012, Flynn sustained physical injuries arising out of a car accident with Campbell. At the accident scene, a police officer gave Flynn a "crash report" that identified Campbell's insurance carrier, the policy number, and the insurance carrier's telephone number. Using this information, Flynn contacted Campbell's insurance carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

         ¶3 On October 16, 2014, one day before the two-year statute of limitations expired, Flynn, representing herself, sued State Farm. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. ("A.R.S.") § 12-542(1) (2016) (two-year limitations period for personal injury claims). Flynn alleged that after the collision, State Farm had "assumed full responsibility for its insured's actions" and because of its insured's actions, she had suffered various injuries and "losses."

         ¶4 State Farm moved to dismiss the complaint ("original motion ") with prejudice under Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing Flynn did not have a cause of action against it because "in Arizona there is no right of direct action against an insurance carrier for damages claimed as a result of an accident with one of its insureds." Before the superior court could rule on the original motion, Flynn retained counsel, and on November 24, 2014, filed an amended complaint.[1] The amended complaint dropped State Farm as a defendant and named Campbell (plus several fictitious parties) as defendants.[2]

         ¶5 On December 22, 2014, Campbell moved to dismiss the amended complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing it did "not 'relate back' under Rule 15(c)" and thus Flynn's negligence claim was time barred. The superior court granted the motion, finding Flynn "committed a mistake of law [and] not a mistake of fact" because she was "aware of the identity of the driver."[3] See infra ¶ 9.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶6 Flynn argues she made a mistake cognizable under Rule 15(c), and not merely a mistake of law, by naming State Farm in the original complaint rather than Campbell, and thus, because she met the other requirements of Rule 15(c), her amended complaint related back to her original complaint. Reviewing this issue of law de novo, we agree. Pargman v. Vickers,208 Ariz. 573, 578, ...


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