Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2012-090337 The Honorable David King Udall, Judge
Stein and Stein, P.C., Mesa By Henry M. Stein Co-Counsel for Defendant/Appellant
Law Office of Dennis A. Sever, PLLC, Mesa By Dennis A. Sever Co-Counsel for Defendant/Appellant
Slack-Méndez Law Firm, Tempe By Charles J. Slack-Méndez Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee
Presiding Judge John C. Gemmill delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Kenton D. Jones and Judge Donn Kessler joined.
¶1 In this opinion we address an aspect of the procedure established by the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure for entry of an award and judgment after a superior court arbitration. Defendant Craig E. Garcia appeals the superior court's denial of his motion to dismiss the arbitrator's award. We conclude that we lack appellate jurisdiction, but in our discretion we exercise special action jurisdiction and grant relief by ordering dismissal of the action without prejudice.
¶2 In January 2012, Plaintiff Robert Phillips filed a complaint against Garcia in Maricopa County Superior Court alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and fraud/misrepresentation. The superior court ordered that the case was subject to compulsory arbitration and appointed an attorney as arbitrator. The matter was arbitrated in December 2012 and the arbitrator issued a ruling that was filed with the court on January 3, 2013. Phillips's counsel prepared and submitted to the arbitrator a document entitled "Judgment" (hereinafter "the Judgment"). The arbitrator signed the Judgment on January 29, 2013, and it was filed with the court the same day. The Judgment was not signed by a judge or commissioner of the superior court. The Judgment, in pertinent part, declared that
[t]his matter having come on for arbitration on December 18, 2012, and the parties having presented their evidence and rested, and based on the Arbitrator's ruling of January 3, 2013,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED:
1. Plaintiff Robert Phillips shall have and recover from Defendant Craig E. Garcia the sum of $11, 967.00, together with interest thereon at the rate of 4.25% per annum until paid.
2. Plaintiff Robert Phillips shall have and recover from Defendant Craig E. Garcia attorney's fees and costs in the sum of $8, 687.00, together with interest thereon at the rate of 4.25% per annum until paid.
¶3 Nothing further was filed with the court until November 2013, approximately 10 months later, when Phillips filed a petition requesting that the court order Garcia to appear as a judgment debtor pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute ("A.R.S.") § 12-1632. The petition further provided that "[a] Judgment has been entered against this Judgment Debtor and docketed." (Emphasis added).
¶4 Garcia moved to dismiss the arbitration award because no application for entry of judgment was timely filed within 120 days after the arbitrator's decision, in accordance with Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure (Rule) 76(d). After numerous pleadings by the parties, the court denied Garcia's motion in a signed ...