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The Arizona Constitution grants the Arizona Supreme Court the power to make rules relative to all procedural matters in any court. Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 5, cl. 5. This power includes the authority to interpret rules of procedure. Because the Supreme Court has the final say in the interpretation of procedural rules, only the Supreme Court can revise or reconsider its prior interpretation of the rules, even if a lower court believes that subsequent events may call into question a prior interpretation.
Plaintiff Michael Cullen was injured in an accident involving an automobile owned and operated by a third party. Cullen received benefits from the third party's insurance policy and also filed a claim for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits with Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners). Cullen had no individual insurance policy with Auto-Owners, but filed the claim under an insurance policy that covered a Dodge Caravan used by his mother, Jana Coronado. Auto-Owners denied Cullen's UIM claim. Cullen and Coronado subsequently sued Auto-Owners for breach of the insurance contract and denial of benefits in bad faith. Pursuant to Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Auto-Owners moved to dismiss the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The trial judge granted Auto-Owners' motion to dismiss. In affirming the trial court's judgment, the appellate court held that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The appellate court cited Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, a decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court had held that a plaintiff's claims must be plausible, not merely possible, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8. The plaintiff argued that the appellate court had impermissibly narrowed the notice pleading requirement of Ariz. R. Civ. P. 8(a).
Did Arizona abandon the notice pleading standard under Ariz. R. Civ. P. 8(a) in favor of the recently articulated standard in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly?
The Court held that the appellate court did not have the power to alter interpretation of Arizona's rules of civil procedure. Under Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 5, cl. 5, the Court had the power to make rules relative to all procedural matters in any court. The Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure could be revised only through the court's inherent power to interpret procedural rules or through the procedures established in Ariz. Sup. Ct. R. 28. The Court vacated the portion of the court of appeals' opinion citing Twombly and affirm the remainder of the opinion.