Cullen v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co.: Evaluating the Sufficiency of a Complaint Under Arizona’s Rule 8 Notice-Pleading Standard in Light of Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly

In Cullen v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., the Arizona Supreme Court granted review in part to determine whether it should reinterpret Rule 8 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure to abandon notice pleading in favor of the stricter standard articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly requiring “plausible” fact-specific pleading. In reaffirming Arizona’s allegiance to notice pleading, however, the court ultimately did not address whether the Twombly standard ought to be adopted. Rather, the Arizona Supreme Court simply held that because a rule may be modified by one of two methods only—a Rule 28 petition or judicial interpretation, the authority of which constitutionally vests exclusively in the supreme court—the court of appeals had no authority to reinterpret Rule 8. In doing so, the court reasserted the long-standing principle that Arizona is a notice-pleading state, but declined to clarify the ambiguity that continues to plague the Rule 8 standard.