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Flynn v. Campbell

Supreme Court of Arizona

September 22, 2017

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 The Honorable Thomas L. LeClaire, Judge No. CV2014-055536

         Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One 240 Ariz. 264 (App. 2016)

          Daryl Manhart, Melissa Iyer Julian (argued), Burch & Cracchiolo, P.A., Phoenix; and Thomas M. Richardson, Friedl & Richardson, Phoenix, Attorneys for Diane Flynn and Robert Flynn.

          Jonathan P. Barnes, Jr., (argued), Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, P.L.C., Phoenix, Attorney for Sarah W. Campbell

          Christopher Robbins, Hill, Hall & DeCiancio, PLC, Phoenix, Attorney for Amicus Curiae Arizona Association of Defense Counsel.

          Stanley G. Feldman, Miller, Pitt, Feldman & McAnally, P.C., Tucson; and David L. Abney, Ahwatukee Legal Office, P.C., Phoenix, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association.

          JUSTICE LOPEZ authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, and JUSTICES BRUTINEL, TIMMER, BOLICK and GOULD joined.

          OPINION

          LOPEZ, JUSTICE.

         ¶1 We hold that under Rule 15(c), Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, an amended complaint naming a new defendant relates back to the original complaint if the newly added defendant knew or should have known the plaintiff mistakenly failed to name him or her as a party in the original complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 On October 17, 2012, Diane Flynn was injured in a car accident with Sarah Campbell. At the accident scene, a police officer gave Flynn a "crash report" that identified Campbell's insurance carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm"), the policy number, and the insurer's phone number. Flynn later contacted State Farm to report the accident.

         ¶3 On October 16, 2014, one day before the two-year statute of limitations expired, Flynn, representing herself, sued State Farm. In her complaint ("original complaint"), Flynn alleged that State Farm's insured caused the collision by "recklessness, carelessness, and negligence, " that State Farm had "assumed full responsibility for its insured's actions, " and that it had "intentionally delayed, postponed, or otherwise disregarded the resolution of this matter; at times providing false information to [Flynn], " resulting in compensatory damages of $37, 500 and requesting $200, 000 in punitive damages.

         ¶4 State Farm moved to dismiss the original complaint, arguing Flynn did not have a cause of action 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 motion, Flynn retained counsel, and, on November 24, 2014, filed an amended complaint removing State Farm, naming Campbell (and several fictitious parties) as defendants, and alleging negligence.

         ¶5 Campbell, on December 22, 2014 -still within the period to serve the original complaint and summons under Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 4(i) -moved to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing it did "not 'relate back' under Rule 15(c)" and was therefore time-barred. The superior court dismissed the amended complaint, finding Flynn "committed a mistake of law [and] not a mistake of fact" because she was "aware of the identity of the driver." The court of appeals reversed, holding Flynn's mistake cognizable under Rule 15(c) as "a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party." Flynn v. Campbell, 240 Ariz. 264, 269 ¶ 18 (App. 2016).

         ¶6 We granted review because the standard for allowing "relation back" of pleadings under Rule 15(c) presents a recurring issue of statewide importance. We have jurisdiction under article 6, section 5(3) of ...


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