Greenwald v. Ford Motor Co

In Greenwald v. Ford Motor Co., 196 Ariz. 123, 126, P 10, 993 P.2d 1087, 1090 (App. 1999), the personal representative, on behalf of a surviving spouse and the parents of the deceased, brought an action for wrongful death and, alternatively, for negligence and strict product liability. 196 Ariz. at 124, P 2, 993 P.2d at 1088. The defendant made a lump-sum offer of judgment that was not accepted, the jury returned a defense verdict, and the defendant moved for Rule 68 sanctions. Id. at P 3. The trial court found that, under Duke, the offer was unapportioned and improper, id., and we affirmed, id. at 126, P 10, 993 P.2d at 1090. The Court held that, to justify Rule 68 sanctions, an offer must comply with the Rule's requirements, particularly the need for specificity. Id. at 124-25, PP 5-6, 993 P.2d at 1088-89. The defendant argued that, unlike Duke, the plaintiff asserted only a wrongful death claim, which is a single action involving one plaintiff. Id. at 125, P 7, 993 P.2d at 1089. The Court agreed but held that, because the personal representative represents all of the beneficiaries, and the offer was not apportioned among them, the offer did not satisfy the rule. Id. at 125-26, P 8, P 10, 993 P.2d at 1089-90. In assessing damages for wrongful death, the jury awards compensation to each beneficiary, id., and the plaintiff holds the proceeds in trust for each, id. at P 9. Thus, to permit evaluation, an offer in a wrongful death case must apportion the damages among the various beneficiaries. Id. at 126, P 10, 993 P.2d at 1090.