Duff v. Lee

Decision Date25 November 2020
Docket NumberNo. CV-19-0128-PR,CV-19-0128-PR
Parties Claudia DUFF, Petitioner, v. Hon. Kenneth LEE, Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, in and for the County of Pima, Respondent, and Tucson Police Department, a Municipal Agency; and the City of Tucson, a Municipal Corporation, Real Parties in Interest.
CourtArizona Supreme Court

250 Ariz. 135
476 P.3d 315

Claudia DUFF, Petitioner,
Hon. Kenneth LEE, Judge of the Superior Court of the State of Arizona, in and for the County of Pima, Respondent,
Tucson Police Department, a Municipal Agency; and the City of Tucson, a Municipal Corporation, Real Parties in Interest.

No. CV-19-0128-PR

Supreme Court of Arizona.

Filed November 25, 2020

David D. Buechel (argued), Hollingsworth Kelly, PLLC, Tucson, Attorney for Claudia Duff

Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Brunn "Beau" W. Roysden III, Solicitor General, Drew C. Ensign (argued), Section Chief, Civil Appeals Section, Kathleen P. Sweeney, Senior Appellate Counsel, Robert J. Makar, Assistant Attorney General, Phoenix, Attorneys for Honorable Kenneth Lee

Michael G. Rankin, City Attorney, Renee J. Waters, Principal Assistant City Attorney, Tucson City Attorney's Office, Tucson, Attorneys for City of Tucson


JUSTICE BOLICK, opinion of the Court:

¶1 This case concerns the interaction between A.R.S. § 12-133, a compulsory arbitration statute, and the Fast Trial and Alternative Resolution ("FASTAR") Pilot Program. We find no conflict between the statute and this Court's orders and rules establishing FASTAR, and we thus hold that the trial court properly denied petitioner Claudia Duff's motion for arbitration.


¶2 Section 12-133(A)(1)–(2) requires superior courts, by court rule, to "[e]stablish jurisdictional limits of not to exceed sixty-five thousand dollars for submission of disputes to arbitration" and "[r]equire arbitration in all cases ... in which ... the amount in controversy does not exceed the jurisdictional limit." Section 12-133(H) establishes a right to appeal from an arbitration award to the superior court for trial de novo on law and fact. Certain financial penalties accrue if the appellant does not receive an award that is at least 23% better than the arbitrator determined. § 12-133(I). Section 12-133(L) provides that the jurisdictional limit under § 12-133(A)(1) "does not apply to arbitration that is conducted under an alternative dispute resolution program approved by the supreme court.

¶3 In 2015, this Court established the Committee on Civil Justice Reform to "develop recommendations, including rule amendments or pilot projects, to reduce the cost and time required to resolve civil cases in Arizona's superior courts." In re Establishment of the Comm. on Civ. Just. Reform and Appointment of Members , Admin. Order No. 2015-126 (2015). The following year, the committee proposed the FASTAR Pilot Program. Comm. On Civ. Just. Reform's Rep. to the Ariz. Jud. Council, A Call to Reform 18–20, 121–138 (Oct. 2016); In re Implementation of the Fast Trial and Alternative Resolution (FASTAR) Pilot Program in Pima County , Admin. Order No. 2017-116 (2017). FASTAR allows a plaintiff to choose between a short trial and arbitration in cases seeking money damages not exceeding $50,000. Admin. Order No. 2017-116. In doing so, the plaintiff must file a certificate stating whether the case meets the four FASTAR eligibility criteria: (1) the complaint requests monetary damages only; (2) the amount sought exceeds the limit set by local rule for compulsory arbitration; (3) the amount sought does not exceed $50,000, excluding interest, costs, and attorney fees; and (4) the plaintiff does not need to serve the summons and complaint on

476 P.3d 317

any defendant in a foreign country. Admin. Order No. 2017-116 app. at 1 (Rule 101(b)).

¶4 A plaintiff qualifying for and choosing a short trial is thereby entitled to an expedited jury trial and may appeal a decision to the court of appeals, but a plaintiff choosing arbitration forfeits the right to appeal. Admin. Order No. 2017-116 app. at 2 (Rule 103), 9 (Rule 118(d)).

¶5 In essence, FASTAR was designed to provide an attractive alternative to arbitration, which can entail a protracted process when a party pursues a trial de novo afterward. Cf. Ray v. Rambaud , 103 Ariz. 186, 188, 438 P.2d 752, 754 (1968) ("[A] litigant does not have a vested right in any given mode of procedure, and so long as a substantial and efficient remedy is provided, due process of law is not denied by a change in remedy.").

¶6 This Court implemented FASTAR as a three-year pilot program in Pima County Superior Court commencing November 2017.1 Admin. Order No. 2017-116. We also approved new Court rules that lowered Pima County's jurisdictional limit for purposes of § 12-133(A)(1) from $50,000 to $1,000. Id. Because the court's jurisdictional minimum for civil claims is $1,000, the order effectively eliminated compulsory arbitration in the county.

¶7 In May 2018, Duff filed a complaint in Pima County Superior Court seeking damages against the Tucson Police Department. Duff filed a certificate of compulsory arbitration under § 12-133, as well as a FASTAR certificate, claiming that the action did not meet FASTAR eligibility criteria. Duff then filed a motion asking the court to order § 12-133 arbitration, arguing FASTAR was unconstitutional as applied to her because it extinguished her right to a trial de novo and appeal to the court of appeals following arbitration.

¶8 The trial court denied Duff's motion, finding both that FASTAR preserved her rights under the short trial option and that electing arbitration under FASTAR rules required waiver of jury trial and appeal rights. The...

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15 cases
  • State v. Tucker, 19-2082
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 7, 2021
    ...the Fast Trial and Alternative Resolution Program and therefore in violation of separation of powers), aff'd in part, vacated in part , 250 Ariz. 135, 476 P.3d 315 (2020); State v. Rollinson , 203 Conn. 641, 526 A.2d 1283, 1289 (1987) ("General Assembly lacks the power to enact rules govern......
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    ...the Arizona Court of Appeals’ power to determine the constitutionality of such a rule), aff'd in part, vacated in part on other grounds , 250 Ariz. 135, 476 P.3d 315 (2020). We agree with those divisions.¶ 15 Turning to the merits of Eason's constitutional challenge to Rule 24(c)(4), we con......
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    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • November 25, 2020
    ...costs.¶31 We affirm the trial court's dismissal of Counts I–V, reverse it as to dismissal of Count VI, vacate the opinion of the court of 476 P.3d 315 appeals, and remand to the trial court for further proceedings pursuant to this opinion.--------Notes:* Chief Justice Robert Brutinel has re......
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    • August 17, 2021
    ...decide if § 12-2605 conflicts with our supreme court's rules of evidence. See id. at 90, ¶ 19, 203 P.3d at 488; see also Duff v. Lee , 250 Ariz. 135, 138, ¶ 12, 476 P.3d 315, 318 (2020).¶12 But for § 12-2605, Dr. Amon's apology-related statements may have been admissible to prove liability ......
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