Rule 801(D)(2)(D) Interpretation

In Henry ex rel. Estate of Wilson v. HealthPartners of S. Ariz., 203 Ariz. 393, 55 P.3d 87 (App. 2002), the Court addressed whether allegations in a complaint were admissible pursuant to Rule 801(d)(2)(D). There, the plaintiff, decedent's estate, brought a medical malpractice action after medical personnel failed to appropriately diagnose decedent's breast cancer. Id. at 394-95,1-4, 55 P.3d at 88-89. After the plaintiff settled with two of the three defendants, the remaining defendant, Tucson Medical Center ("TMC"), named the settling defendants as nonparties at fault. Id. at 394, 396-97,5, 11, 55 P.3d at 88, 90-91. At trial, the court granted TMCs request to read to the jury the allegations in the complaint that a nonparty was at fault, finding that the plaintiff's complaint constituted an admission by a party-opponent. Id. at 395,6, 55 P.3d at 89. On appeal, this court concluded that the plaintiff's factual allegations in her complaint, including assertions that a nonparty had been negligent, were evidentiary admissions and therefore admissible under Rule 801(d)(2) (D). Id. at 396,9, 55 P.3d at 90. The Court reasoned that the complaint was written by the plaintiff's attorney as her agent, and thus the allegations contained therein were admissible even though plaintiff may not have had "personal knowledge of the matter asserted in the statement." Id. at 395-96,7, 9, 55 P.3d at 89-90. However, we noted that these admissions, because they were "evidentiary" and not "judicial" admissions, were not "in and of themselves, conclusive of fault." Id. at 396,9, 55 P.3d at 90. The Court concluded that the admissions were properly admitted for the purpose of discrediting plaintiff's contention that the nonparty's negligence was minimal. Id. at 9-10.