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Complaint
  • Time Period: Within the applicable Statute of Limitations
  • Definition: This is the first document filed by the Plaintiff to start the lawsuit. It is a brief statement of the Plaintiff's claims against the Defendant. See, ARCP, Rules 3, 7-15 & ARS §12-501 et seq [2]
Service of Complaint
  • Time Period: Within 120 days of filing of the Complaint
  • Definition: Once the Complaint is filed the Plaintiff must serve the Summons and Complaint upon the Defendant. This gives the Defendant notice that a lawsuit has been filed and informs the Defendant what must be done to respond to the lawsuit. See, ARCP Rules 4-4.2
Answer
  • Time Period: Within 20 days of Service of Complaint to in-state defendant; within 30 days of Service of Complaint to out-of-state defendant.
  • Definition: This is the pleading filed by the Defendant that responds to the claims made by the Plaintiff in the Complaint. See, ARCP 7-15 & ARCP Rule 12
Dismissed without Prejudice
  • Time Period:After 120 days of filing of the Complaint
  • Definition: If service of the complaint is not made upon a defendant within 120 days after the filing of the complaint, the court, upon motion or on its own initiative after notice to the plaintiff, shall dismiss the action without prejudice as to that defendant. If plaintiff shows good cause for failure, the court shall extend the time for service for an appropriate period. See, ARCP Rule 4(i)
Default (if no answer is filed)
  • Time Period: After 20 days of Service of Complaint to in-state defendant; after 30 days of Service of Complaint to out-of-state defendant.
  • Definition: If a Defendant does not file an Answer or Rule 12 Motion, after having been served with a Complaint, the Plaintiff may proceed to obtain a judgment by default. See, ARCP, Rule 55
Disclosure/Discovery
  • Time Period: Occurs between Answer and Trial
  • Definition: This is the process by which the parties learn from each other about the facts of the case and the position each party is taking with each issue in the case. There are a number of duties and procedures that govern the exchange of this information between the parties. See, ARCP Rules 26-37 [3]
Joint Report/Proposed Scheduling Order
  • Time Period:Parties must confer no later than 60 days after Defendant files Answer, or 180 days after commencement of the action, whichever occurs first. Parties must then file a Joint Report and Proposed Scheduling Order no later than 14 days after the parties confer.
  • Definition: The Joint Report, to the extent practicable, will state the parties positions on subjects such as discovery, agreements, number of expert witnesses, disclosure dates, and other matters and orders set forth in Rule 16(d). The Proposed Scheduling Order will specify by calendar date, month, and year the deadlines for all types of discovery, a proposed trial date, and the anticipated number of days for trial. The Joint Report and Proposed Scheduling Order shall be filed using the proper form set forth in Forms 11-13, Rule 84, Appendix of Forms. See, ARCP Rule 16
Settlement Conference
  • Time Period: Within 15 months after the commencement of the action and at least 60 days before the trial date.
  • Definition: Unless otherwise ordered by the court for good cause shown, the parties shall hold a Rule 16.1 settlement conference or private mediation. See, ARCP Rule 16(b) & 16.1
Scheduling Order
  • Time Period: As soon as practicable after receiving the parties’ Joint Report and their Proposed Scheduling Order.
  • Definition: The Scheduling Order shall establish calendar deadlines for each of the items included in the Proposed Scheduling Order, including a trial date or a Trial-Setting Conference. See, ARCP Rule 16(c)
Joint Pretrial Statement
  • Time Period: Statement shall be filed ten days before Trial, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.
  • Definition: Parties shall confer and prepare Joint Pretrial Statement as a single document and it shall include stipulations of material fact and law, contested issues, separate statements of other material facts and law, list of witnesses, list of exhibits, brief statement of case to be read to jury during voir dire, and other technical issues. See, ARCP 16(g).
Trial
  • Time Period: Typically within 9 months of filing Joint Report/Proposed Scheduling Order.
  • Definition: This is the actual presentation of the Plaintiff’s lawsuit to the Judge and/or jury for decision. See, ARCP Rules 38-52
Compulsory Arbitration
  • Time Period: After Defendant files an Answer
  • Definition: By Arizona Statute and Court Rule, civil cases, where the amount in controversy is less than $50,000, must be heard in an arbitration proceeding. In arbitration an attorney is appointed by the Court to hear the case and make a decision. Arbitration hearings are much simpler than a trial and can be heard much quicker. If either party is dissatisfied with the arbitration award they can file an Appeal from Arbitration and Motion to Set Trial, followed by a Trial Setting Notice, and can have a new trial by the Court. See, ARCP Rule 72-77
Compulsory Arbitration: Notice of Decision/Form of Award
  • Time Period: Notice of Decision will be filed within 10 days after completion of the hearing. Form of Award must be filed within 10 days after Notice of Decision. Opposing party may file objections to Award within 5 days after Form of Award is filed.
  • Definition: After receiving objections, Arbitrator will file final disposition with Court, and if Arbitrator fails to file final disposition within 50 days of filing the Notice of Decision the Notice of Decision will constitute the award. Opposing party may then file Notice of Appeal entitled “Appeal from Arbitration and Motion to Set for Trial” within 20 days after the Filing of the Award. If no appeal is filed within that time any party may file to have judgment entered on the award. If no party files an appeal or an entry for judgment within 120 days of filing of Notice of Decision, the case shall be dismissed. See, ARCP Rule 76
Dismissal Calendar
  • Time Period: 270 days after the commencement of the complaint.
  • Definition: Every civil action in which a Joint Report and a Proposed Scheduling Order under Rule 16 or Rule 16.3 or an arbitrators notice of decision under Rule 76 have not been filed within 270 days commencement thereof shall be placed on the Dismissal Calendar. Any case remaining on the dismissal calendar for 60 days shall be dismissed without prejudice for lack of prosecution. See, ARCP Rule 38.1


Notes:

  1. The above time frames set forth the general sequence of a simple and typical civil action. There are many special circumstances, rules, or situation that may alter the time frames or steps shown above. This chart is not meant to be all inclusive of all cases and is meant only for illustrative purposes.
    1. ARS - refers to the Arizona Revised Statutes
    2. ARCP - refers to the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure
    3. Custom and practice - refers to the typical time frame the Court will do something but is not governed specifically by rule or statute.
  2. See Civil page "Disclosure and Discovery" for an expanded discussion of this process.
  3. See Civil page "Arbitration" for an expanded discussion of the arbitration process.
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