Boyle v. Ford Motor Co., No. 2 CA–CV 2014–0029.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Arizona
Writing for the CourtESPINOSA, Judge.
Citation235 Ariz. 529,694 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 20,334 P.3d 219
Docket NumberNo. 2 CA–CV 2014–0029.
Decision Date29 August 2014
PartiesThomas Graham BOYLE, Jr. and Lisa Boyle, Appellants, v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellee.

235 Ariz. 529
334 P.3d 219
694 Ariz.
Adv. Rep. 20

Thomas Graham BOYLE, Jr. and Lisa Boyle, Appellants
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Appellee.

No. 2 CA–CV 2014–0029.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 2.

Aug. 29, 2014.


334 P.3d 219

Joseph C. Dolan, Phoenix, Counsel for Appellant.

Bowman and Brooke LLP by Iman Rita Soliman, Phoenix, and Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons, L.L.P., by John S. Gersch, Dallas, Texas, Counsel for Appellee.

Judge ESPINOSA authored the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge MILLER and Chief Judge ECKERSTROM concurred.

OPINION

ESPINOSA, Judge.

235 Ariz. 529

¶ 1 Appellants Thomas and Lisa Boyle challenge the trial court's imposition of sanctions under Rule 68, Ariz. R. Civ. P., and the court's denial of their motion for new trial concerning those sanctions. Because the Boyles failed to timely object to the validity of appellee Ford Motor Company's offer of judgment, as more fully set forth below, we affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

¶ 2 In June 2010, Thomas Boyle's Ford F–150 truck caught fire while parked in the driveway of the residence the Boyles were renting. The fire spread to the house, the carport, and another vehicle. In January 2012, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, which had insured the residence, filed a subrogation

235 Ariz. 530
334 P.3d 220

lawsuit against Ford and the Boyles seeking to recover amounts paid by it for the damages caused by the fire. In June 2013, the Boyles filed a cross-claim against Ford asserting strict product liability and negligence. Ford denied liability.

¶ 3 In September 2013, Ford served on the Boyles a document titled: “Defendant Ford Motor Company's Offer of Judgment.” That document stated:

Pursuant to Rule 68 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendant Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) hereby makes an offer of judgment against Ford, and in favor of plaintiffs Thomas and Lisa Boyle upon all claims made in the above-entitled action, for collective and total payment in the amount of $22,500.00 ... inclusive of all damages, taxable costs, interest, and attorney fees incurred to date. Acceptance of this offer, in its entirety, by plaintiffs Thomas and Lisa Boyle will represent a settlement of all claims and an agreement to stipulate to the dismissal of all claims against Ford with prejudice. Plaintiffs Thomas and Lisa Boyle may accept this Offer of Judgment by providing written notice of acceptance in accordance with Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 68(c).

Contemporaneously, Ford filed a “Notice of Service of Defendant Ford Motor Company's Offer of Judgment.”

¶ 4 The Boyles did not accept the offer or object to it. The parties had several settlement discussions before trial, but no agreement was reached. In their October 4 joint pretrial statement, the parties represented to the court that both “ha[d] outstanding offers of judgment.”

¶ 5 Following a five-day trial in October, the jury decided in favor of Ford, which thereafter applied for its costs and for sanctions pursuant to Rule 68(g). The Boyles filed an “opposition” to the application arguing “Ford is not entitled to Rule 68 sanctions because Ford did not serve an offer of judgment that complies with Rule 68,” Ariz. R. Civ. P. The trial court reviewed Ford's application and the Boyles' opposition and determined Ford was entitled to its costs and Rule 68(g) sanctions totaling $59,305.17 and ordered that judgment be entered.

¶ 6 In December, the Boyles moved for a new trial asking the court to vacate the portion of the judgment granting the Rule 68(g) sanctions against them. While the motion was pending, the Boyles filed a notice of appeal challenging those sanctions. After the court denied the motion for new trial,1 the Boyles filed an amended notice of appeal, adding to their appeal the court's denial of their motion. We have jurisdiction over the appeal pursuant to A.R.S. §§ 12–120.21(A)(1) and 12–2101(A)(1)(2).

Standard of Review

¶ 7 The meaning and effect of a court rule is a question of law that we review de novo. Pima Cnty. v. Pima Cnty. Law Enforcement Merit Sys. Council, 211 Ariz. 224, 227, ¶ 13, 119 P.3d 1027, 1030 (2005) (citations omitted). In interpreting court rules, we base our analysis on the language of the rule. State ex rel. Romley v. Superior Ct. (Stewart), 168 Ariz. 167, 169, 812 P.2d 985, 987 (1991). Only if the rule is ambiguous will we look to other rules of construction. Levy v. Alfaro, 215 Ariz. 443, 444, ¶ 6, 160 P.3d 1201, 1202 (App.2007).

Rule 68 Sanctions

¶ 8 Rule 68(a) provides, “At any time more than 30 days before the trial begins, any party may serve upon any other party an offer to allow judgment to be entered in the action.” An offer that is not accepted is deemed rejected. Ariz. R. Civ. P. 68(d). Rule 68(d) states that if the offeree has any objections to the “validity of the offer, the offeree must serve upon the offeror, within ten days after service of the offer, written notice of any such objections.” Ariz. R. Civ. P. 68(d). Unless the offeree does so, “the offeree waives the right to do so in any proceeding to determine sanctions under this rule.” Id.

334 P.3d 221
235 Ariz. 531

¶ 9 The Boyles argued below, as they do...

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