Arizona Contributory Negligence Defense

In Arizona, if a jury applies the defense of contributory negligence in its verdict, "the full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the claimaint's fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death, if any." A.R.S. 12-2505 (2003). The Arizona Constitution, however, leaves the issue solely within the jury's discretion. Ariz. Const. art. 18, 5. ("Contributory negligence . . . shall, in all cases whatsoever, be a question of fact and shall, at all times, be left to the jury."). In a negligence action such as this, the jury not only has "the right to determine the facts, but to apply or not, as the jury sees fit, the law of contributory negligence as a defense." Gunnell v. Ariz. Pub. Serv. Co., 202 Ariz. 388, 394, P 23, 46 P.3d 399, 405 (2002) (quoting Heimke v. Munoz, 106 Ariz. 26, 28, 470 P.2d 107, 109 (1970) (overruled on other grounds by Jurek v. Jurek, 124 Ariz. 596, 606 P.2d 812 (1980))).