The term lawsuit has come to have a negative connotation, however, there are many reasons to file a lawsuit that are non-confrontational. Lawsuits can be filed to get a clear title to sell a house, or to open a probate to distribute the estate of a deceased loved one. Sometimes however, disputes do arise, and whether a lawsuit is being commenced or defended against, many questions undoubtedly arise. While this article is by no means all inclusive, it is meant as a basic guideline of what to expect in litigation in the Superior Court of Arizona.
A lawsuit is commenced by filing a complaint. Most commonly, lawsuits are commenced in the Superior Court in the County where the Plaintiff resides. There are many exceptions to this rule, however they go beyond the scope of this article. Once a lawsuit has been filed, it must be “served” on the Defendant, or Defendants, if there are more than one. A lawsuit must be served according to Rules 4.1 and 4.2 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. The most common method of service is to hire a process server who is licensed to serve the lawsuit on the Defendants.
Once the lawsuit is served, a general timeline will be set. Although there are many different situations which can cause a timeline to expand or contract, this scenario will be for a simple lawsuit. To begin with, the Defendant will generally have 20 days to respond or “Answer” the lawsuit. If the Defendant does not answer, the Plaintiff can file for Default pursuant to Rule 55 Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. If the Defendant does Answer, the Discovery Process begins. Simply put, Discovery is the process by which the parties gather and exchange information relevant to the case. There is an ongoing duty to disclose new information, but at a minimum, an initial report must be exchanged no later than 40 days after the Defendant “Answers” the lawsuit.