Wiggs v. City of Phoenix

In Wiggs v. City of Phoenix, 198 Ariz. 367, 10 P.3d 625 (2000), the plaintiff's daughter was killed by an automobile while crossing a street in the City of Phoenix (City). Id. at 368, P 2, 10 P.3d at 626. The plaintiff sued the City for wrongful death, alleging improper maintenance of the streetlight. Id. at P 3. The City conceded that its duty to maintain its streets in a reasonably safe condition was non-delegable but named Arizona Public Service (APS), an independent contractor obligated to operate and maintain the streetlight under a contract with the City, as a non-party at fault. Id. The plaintiff asked that the jury be instructed that the City was vicariously liable for APS's negligence. Id. at P 4. The trial court refused the instruction. Id. at 369, P 4, 10 P.3d at 627. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the City. Id. at P 5. The trial court granted the plaintiff's motion for new trial, believing that it had erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the City's vicarious liability for APS's negligence. Id. On appeal, the Court reversed. Wiggs v. City of Phoenix, 197 Ariz. 358, 4 P.3d 413 (App. 1999). The Court concluded that APS was not the City's agent, which precluded the City from being vicariously liable for APS's negligence under Arizona's comparative fault scheme. Id. at 365-66, PP 28-32, 4 P.3d at 420-21.