Law v. Superior Court

157 Ariz. 142

 

RULE:

A motor vehicle accident defendant may discover information about plaintiff's use of seat belts prior to the accident.

FACTS:

Petitioner driver and her parents, defendants in a personal injury action brought by real parties in interest, injured passengers, submitted a petition seeking review of an order of the Superior Court of Maricopa County (Arizona) denying the driver and her parents' motion to compel discovery of the passengers' use of seat belts. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that the seat belt defense was not recognized in Arizona. The injured passengers were injured in a one-car rollover accident while passengers in a car driven by the driver. The injured passengers brought a personal injury action against the driver and her parents. In discovery, the driver and her parents moved to compel discovery of the injured passengers' use of seat belts. The trial court denied the motion on the grounds that the seat belt defense was not recognized in Arizona. After the driver and her parents submitted a petition for special action, the court exercised its jurisdiction to grant review.

ISSUE:

Does the doctrine of avoidable consequences apply to the pre-accident conduct of failing to use available seat belts?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

In reversing the trial court order, the court recognized the seat belt defense. The court held that the doctrine of avoidable consequences applied to the pre-accident conduct of failing to use available seat belts.

The court reversed the trial court's order denying the driver and her parents' motion to compel discovery of the injured passengers' use of seat belts.

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