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Rule 26. General Provisions Governing Discovery

Arizona Revised Statutes AnnotatedRules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated
Rules of Civil Procedure for the Superior Courts of Arizona (Refs & Annos)
V. Disclosure and Discovery
16 A.R.S. Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26
Rule 26. General Provisions Governing Discovery
<Text of Rule 26 effective until July 1, 2018. See, also, Rule 26 effective July 1, 2018.>
(a) Discovery Methods. A party may obtain discovery by any of the following methods:
(1) depositions by oral examination or written questions under Rules 30 and 31, respectively;
(2) written interrogatories under Rule 33;
(3) requests for production of documents or things or permission to enter onto land or other property for inspection and other purposes, under Rule 34;
(4) physical and mental examinations under Rule 35;
(5) requests for admission under Rule 36; and
(6) subpoenas for production of documentary evidence or for inspection of premises under Rule 45(c).
(b) Discovery Scope and Limits. Unless the court orders otherwise in accordance with these rules, the scope of discovery is as follows:
(1) Generally.
(A) Scope. Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to the any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
(B) Limits on Discovery. On motion or on its own, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules if it determines that the discovery sought: (i) is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from another source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) seeks information that the party has had ample opportunity to obtain; or (iii) is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1)(A).
(2) Specific Limits on Discovery of Electronically Stored Information. A party need not provide discovery or disclosure of electronically stored information from sources that the party shows are not reasonably accessible because of undue burden or expense. If a party makes that showing, the court may nonetheless order disclosure or discovery from such sources if the requesting party shows good cause, considering the limits of Rule 26(b)(1). The court may specify conditions for the disclosure or discovery.
(3) Work Product and Witness Statements.
(A) Documents and Tangible Things Prepared in Anticipation of Litigation or for Trial. Ordinarily, a party may not discover documents and tangible things that another party or its representative (including the other party's attorney, consultant, surety, indemnitor, insurer, or agent) prepared in anticipation of litigation or for trial. But, subject to Rule 26(b)(4)(B), a party may discover those materials if:
(i) the materials are otherwise discoverable under Rule 26(b)(1); and
(ii) the party shows that it has a substantial need for the materials to prepare its case and cannot, without undue hardship, obtain their substantial equivalent by other means.
(B) Protection Against Disclosure of Opinion Work Product. If the court orders discovery of materials under Rule 26(b)(3)(A), it must protect against disclosure of the mental impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal theories of a party's attorney or other representative concerning the litigation.
(C) Discovery of Own Statement. On request and without the showing required under Rule 26(b)(3)(A), any party or other person may obtain his or her own previous statement about the action or its subject matter. If the request is refused, the party or other person may move for a court order, and Rule 37(a)(5) applies to the award of expenses. A statement discoverable under this rule is either:
(i) a written statement that the party or other person signed or otherwise adopted or approved; or
(ii) a contemporaneous stenographic, video, audio, or other recording--or a transcription of it--that recites substantially verbatim the party's or other person's oral statement.
(4) Expert Discovery.
(A) Deposition of an Expert Who May Testify. A party may depose any person who has been disclosed as an expert witness under Rule 26.1(a)(6).
(B) Expert Employed Only for Trial Preparation. Ordinarily, a party may not discover facts known or opinions held by an expert who has been retained or specially employed by another party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial and who is not expected to be called as a witness at trial. A party may discover such facts or opinions only:
(i) as provided in Rule 35(d); or
(ii) on showing exceptional circumstances under which it is impracticable for the party to obtain facts or opinions on the same subject by other means.
(C) Payment. Unless manifest injustice would result, the court must require that the party seeking discovery:
(i) pay the expert a reasonable fee for time spent in responding to discovery under Rule 26(b)(4)(A) or (B), including the time the expert spends testifying in a deposition; and
(ii) for discovery under Rule 26(b)(4)(B), also pay the other party a fair portion of the fees and expenses it reasonably incurred in obtaining the expert's facts and opinions, including--in the court's discretion--the time the expert reasonably spends preparing for deposition.
(D) Number of Experts Per Issue.
(i) Generally. Unless the parties agree or the court orders otherwise for good cause, each side is presumptively entitled to call only one retained or specially employed expert to testify on an issue. When there are multiple parties on a side and those parties cannot agree on which expert to call on an issue, the court may designate the expert to be called or, for good cause, allow more than one expert to be called.
(ii) Standard-of-Care Experts in Medical Malpractice Actions. Notwithstanding the limits of Rule 26(b)(4)(D)(i), a defendant in a medical malpractice action may--in addition to that defendant's standard-of-care expert witness--testify on the issue of that defendant's standard of care. In such an instance, the court is not required to allow the plaintiff an additional expert witness on the issue of the standard of care.
(5) Notice of Nonparty at Fault. No later than 150 days after filing its answer, a party must serve on all other parties--and should file with the court--a notice disclosing any person: (A) not currently or formerly named as a party in the action; and (B) whom the party alleges was wholly or partly at fault under A.R.S. § 12-2506(B). The notice must disclose the identity and location of the nonparty allegedly at fault, and the facts supporting the allegation of fault. A party who has served a notice of nonparty at fault must supplement or correct its notice if it learns that the notice was or has become materially incomplete or incorrect and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been disclosed to the other parties through the discovery process or in writing. A party must supplement or correct its notice of nonparty at fault under this rule in a timely manner, but in no event more than 30 days after it learns that the notice is materially incomplete or incorrect. The trier of fact may not allocate any percentage of fault to a nonparty who is not disclosed in accordance with this rule except on stipulation of all the parties or on motion showing good cause, reasonable diligence, and lack of unfair prejudice to all other parties.
(6) Claims of Privilege or Protection of Work-Product Materials.
(A) Information, Documents, or Electronically Stored Information Withheld. When a party withholds information, a document, or electronically stored information in response to a written discovery request on the claim that it is privileged or subject to protection as work product, the party must promptly identify in writing the information, document, or electronically stored information withheld and describe the nature of that information, document, or electronically stored information in a manner that--without revealing information that is itself privileged or protected--will enable other parties to assess the claim.
(B) Inadvertent Production. If a party contends that a document or electronically stored information subject to a claim of privilege or of protection as work-product material has been inadvertently produced in discovery, the party making the claim may notify any party who received the document or electronically stored information of the claim and the basis for it. After being notified, a party: (i) must promptly return, sequester, or destroy the specified document or electronically stored information and any copies it has; (ii) must not use or disclose the document or electronically stored information until the claim is resolved; (iii) must take reasonable steps to retrieve the document or electronically stored information if the party disclosed it before being notified; and (iv) may promptly present the document or electronically stored information to the court under seal for a determination of the claim. The producing party must preserve the document or electronically stored information until the claim is resolved.
(c) Protective Orders.
(1) Generally. A party or any person from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order in the court where the action is pending--or alternatively, on matters relating to a deposition, the court in the county where the deposition will be taken. Subject to Rule 26(c)(4), the court may, for good cause, enter an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including one or more of the following:
(A) forbidding the discovery;
(B) specifying terms and conditions, including time and place, for the discovery;
(C) prescribing a discovery method other than the one selected by the party seeking discovery;
(D) forbidding inquiry into certain matters, or limiting the scope of discovery to certain matters;
(E) designating the persons who may be present while the discovery is conducted;
(F) requiring that a deposition be sealed and opened only on court order;
(G) requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way; and
(H) requiring that the parties simultaneously file specified documents or information in sealed envelopes, to be opened as the court directs.
(2) Ordering Discovery. If a motion for a protective order is wholly or partly denied, the court may, on terms that are just, order that any party or person provide or permit discovery.
(3) Awarding Expenses. Rule 37(a)(5) applies to the award of expenses on a motion for a protective order.
(4) Confidentiality Orders.
(A) Burden of Proof. Before the court may enter an order that limits a party or person from disclosing information or materials produced in the action to a person who is not a party to the action and before the court may deny an intervenor's request for access to such discovery materials: (i) the party seeking confidentiality must show why a confidentiality order should be entered or continued; and (ii) the party or intervenor opposing confidentiality must show why a confidentiality order should be denied in whole or in part, modified, or vacated. The burden of showing good cause for an order remains with the party seeking confidentiality.
(B) Findings of Fact. When ruling on a motion for a confidentiality order, the court must make findings of fact concerning any relevant factors, including but not limited to: (i) any party's or person's need to maintain the confidentiality of such information or materials; (ii) any nonparty's or intervenor's need to obtain access to such information or materials; and (iii) any possible risk to the public health, safety, or financial welfare to which such information or materials may relate or reveal. No such findings of fact are needed if the parties have stipulated to such an order or if a motion to intervene and to obtain access to materials subject to a confidentiality order is unopposed. A party moving for entry of a confidentiality order must submit with its motion a proposed order containing proposed findings of fact.
(C) Least Restrictive Means. An order restricting release of information or materials to nonparties or intervenors must use the least restrictive means necessary to maintain any needed confidentiality.
(d) Sequence of Discovery. Unless the court orders otherwise for the parties' and witnesses' convenience and in the interests of justice, or for other good cause:
(1) methods of discovery may be used in any sequence; and
(2) discovery by one party does not require any other party to delay its discovery.
(e) Supplementing and Correcting Discovery Responses. A party who has responded to an interrogatory, request for production, or request for admission must supplement or correct its response if it learns that the response was or has become materially incomplete or incorrect and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been disclosed to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing. A party must supplement or correct a discovery response under this rule in a timely manner, but in no event more than 30 days after it learns that the response is materially incomplete or incorrect.
(f) Sanctions. The court may impose an appropriate sanction--including any order under Rule 16(i)--against a party or attorney who has engaged in unreasonable, groundless, abusive, or obstructionist conduct in connection with discovery.
(g) Discovery and Disclosure Motions. Any discovery or disclosure motion must attach a good faith consultation certificate complying with Rule 7.1(h).

Credits

Added Sept. 2, 2016, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Editors' Notes

STATE BAR COMMITTEE NOTE
1984 Amendments to Rule 26(a) and (b)
The 1984 amendments to Rule 26 are aimed at preventing both excess discovery and evasion of reasonable discovery devices. Deletion of “the frequency of use” from Rule 26(a) is intended to deal directly with the problems of duplicative and needless discovery. This change and others in Rule 26(b) should encourage judges to identify instances of unnecessary discovery and to limit the use of the various discovery devices accordingly.
New standards are added in Rule 26(b)(1) which courts will use in deciding whether to limit the frequency or extent of use of the various discovery methods. Subdivision (i) is intended to reduce redundancy in discovery and require counsel to be sensitive to the comparative costs of different methods of securing information. Subdivision (ii) also seeks to minimize repetitiveness and to oblige lawyers to think through their discovery activities in advance so that full utilization is made of each deposition, document request, or set of interrogatories. Subdivision (iii) addresses the problem of discovery that is disproportionate to the individual lawsuit as measured by various factors, e.g., its nature and complexity, the importance of the issues at stake, the financial position of the parties, etc. These standards must be applied in an even-handed manner to prevent use of discovery to wage a war of attrition or as a device to coerce a party, whether affluent or financially weak.
Acknowledging that discovery cannot always be self-regulating, the Rule contemplates earlier and greater judicial involvement in the discovery process. The court may act on motion or its own initiative.
COMMITTEE COMMENT
1991 Amendment to Rule 26(b)(4)
The amendment to Rule 26(b)(4) must be read in conjunction with the amendment to [former Rule 43(g)]. The purpose of these two rules is to avoid unnecessary costs inherent in the retention of multiple independent expert witnesses. The words “independent expert” in this rule refer to a person who will offer opinion evidence who is retained for testimonial purposes and who is not a witness to the facts giving rise to the action. As used in this rule, the word “presumptively” is intended to mean that an additional expert on an issue can be used only upon a showing of good cause. Where an issue cuts across several professional disciplines, the court should be liberal in allowing expansion of the limitation upon experts established in the rule.
[Former Rule 43(g)] is intended to reinforce Rule 403 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence which gives the court discretion to exclude relevant evidence which represents ... “needless presentation of cumulative evidence.” By use of the word “shall” in [former Rule 43(g)] it is the intent of the Committee to strongly urge trial judges to exclude testimony from independent experts on both sides which is cumulative except in those circumstances where the cause of justice requires.
There is no intent to preclude witnesses who in addition to their opinion testimony are factual witnesses. Under [former Rule 43(g)], however, the court would exclude an independent expert witness whose opinion would simply duplicate that of the factual expert witness, except for good cause shown.
This amendment to Rule 26(b)(4) in combination with [former Rule 43(g)] and [Rules 16(d)(5) and 16(e)(4) (formerly Rule 16(c)(3))] is intended to discourage the unnecessary retention of multiple independent expert witnesses and the discovery costs associated with listing multiple cumulative independent experts as witnesses. The Committee does not intend any change in the present rule regarding specially retained experts.
STATE BAR COMMITTEE NOTE
2000 Amendments to Rule 26(b) and (c)
As part of the effort to consolidate formerly separate sets of procedural rules into either the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure or the Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court, the Uniform Rules of Practice of the Superior Court were effectively transferred to one or the other of those existing sets of Rules. The provisions of former Rule V(a) of the Uniform Rules of Practice of the Superior Court, which required the filing, in certain counties, of a list of witnesses and exhibits as a predicate for submitting a Motion to Set and Certificate of Readiness, however, were not retained in that process. The Committee was of the view that this requirement had been rendered obsolete by the provisions of Rule 26.1, which requires the voluntary and seasonable disclosure of, inter alia, the identities of trial witnesses and exhibits. This necessitated the amendment of Rule 26(b)(5) to eliminate the former reference to Rule V(a) and to substitute in its place a reference to new Rule 38.1(b)(2) of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure.
Rule 26(b)(4) was amended to incorporate, as a new separate paragraph, the provisions of former Rule 1(D)(4) of the Uniform Rules of Practice for Medical Malpractice Cases. The Comment to that former Rule had observed that, if a medical malpractice case involved issues of nursing care, anesthesia, and general surgery, the plaintiff should be entitled to three standard-of- care experts and, similarly, if the hospital employed the nurse, anesthesiologist and surgeon and was the sole defendant, it would also be entitled to three standard-of-care experts. The addition of the phrase “except upon a showing of good cause” merely incorporates the standards of former Rule 43(g), which addressed the same subject and was abrogated as unnecessary. Finally, the provisions of Rule 26(e) were amended to reflect prior amendments to Rules 26.1 and 37 which require the disclosure of such information by no later than sixty (60) days prior to trial, without leave of court.
COMMENT
2002 Amendment to Rule 26(c)
The amendment to Rule 26(c) does not limit the discretion of trial judges to issue confidentiality orders in the appropriate case. Trial judges should look to federal case law to determine what factors, including the three listed in the rule, should be weighed in deciding whether to grant or modify a confidentiality order where parties contest the need for such an order. Trial judges also should look to federal case law to determine whether to permit nonparties to intervene and obtain access to information protected by such orders.
16 A. R. S. Rules Civ. Proc., Rule 26, AZ ST RCP Rule 26
Current with amendments received through 04/15/18
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