Seisinger v. Siebel

In Seisinger v. Siebel, 220 Ariz. 85,7, 203 P.3d 483, 486 (2009), the Arizona Supreme Court addressed the constitutionality of A.R.S. 12-2604(A), which prescribes the requirements for introducing expert testimony on the standard of care in medical malpractice cases. 220 Ariz. 85,15, 18-19, 42, 203 P.3d at 488, 494. The court found that, although the statute conflicted with Rule 702, id.19, the statute nevertheless was "substantive in nature and did not offend the separation of powers doctrine" because it changed the substantive law relating to medical malpractice actions, id.42. Recognizing that the distinction between a substantive and procedural rule of law can be "'elusive,'" id.29, quoting In re Shane B., 198 Ariz. 85,9, 7 P.3d 94, 97 (2000), the court stated, "The ultimate question is whether the statute enacts, at least in relevant part, law that effectively 'creates, defines, and regulates rights,'" id., quoting State v. Birmingham, 96 Ariz. 109, 110, 392 P.2d 775, 776 (1964). The court examined the purpose of the statute within the context of medical malpractice actions and the common law and historical requirement for a particular kind of expert testimony in such cases and concluded the statute effectuated a change in the "substantive common law, not merely a change in procedure." Id.41. In Seisinger v. Siebel, the statute at issue governed the qualifications of a standard-of-care expert in a medical malpractice case. 220 Ariz. at 87,3, 203 P.3d at 485. The issue was whether the statute conflicted with the Arizona Rules of Evidence and violated the separation of powers doctrine. Id. at 88,3, 203 P.3d at 486. The Arizona Supreme Court held that the statute was "substantive" because it required "a certain type of evidence to prove an element of the tort." Id. at 95,40, 203 P.3d at 493.