Pima County To Implement Pilot Program Aimed At Quick Resolution of Small Civil Cases

By Dane J. Dehler, Esq.

The Arizona Supreme Court has recently concluded that small civil cases in Arizona are taking too long to resolve. To combat this problem, the Arizona Supreme Court has asked the Pima County Superior Court to participate in a three-year pilot program known as the Fast Trial and Alternative Resolution Program (“FASTAR”). FASTAR will apply to new cases filed on or after November 1, 2017 that meet the following three criteria:

  1. The parties request only monetary damages;
  2. The amount of money sought by the Plaintiff is between $1,000.00 and $50,000.00;
  3. The Summons and Complaint do not require service in a foreign country.

Fast Resolution of Small Civil Cases.

If the case is subject to FASTAR, the Plaintiff will be allowed to select whether to proceed to a fast track trial or to arbitration. If the Plaintiff chooses a fast track trial or makes no selection, the case must proceed to trial within 270 days after the case is filed. The trial will be completed in two days or less. At trial, each side will have three hours to present his or her case to the jury. If the case has not been tried within 270 days of filing, it will be placed on the dismissal calendar.

If the Plaintiff selects arbitration instead of a fast track trial, the current compulsory arbitration rules will apply with only minor changes. The Pima County Superior Court will attempt to assign cases to arbitrators with relevant expertise and knowledge. In addition, if the Plaintiff chooses arbitration instead of a fast track trial, the Plaintiff waives any right to appeal the result of the arbitration. However, the Defendant will retain the right to appeal the decision of the arbitrator.

What This Means For Clients.

FASTAR will have a major impact on litigants in Pima County. It is anticipated that most Plaintiff’s will choose a fast track trial so as not to waive the right to appeal. When a fast track trial is chosen the time for parties to negotiate and resolve cases on their own terms will be significantly shortened. Instead, lawyers will be required to immediately begin discovery and trial preparation. Discovery and trial preparation are time consuming, which will significantly increase the average cost of resolving a small case in Pima County. As a result, it will become more important than ever for clients to hire an attorney who can quickly resolve the case or prepare the case for trial on a budget that makes sense for the client.   

IMPORTANT: Neither this article nor any information on this website shall be construed as the offering or rendering of any legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Thompson•Krone, P.L.C. or any attorney at Thompson•Krone, P.L.C. You should consult with an attorney if you have a specific question regarding your legal issues.

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