from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2013-090313
The Honorable Mark F. Aceto, Judge, Retired.
A. Tucker, P.C., Mesa By Mark A. Tucker Counsel for
Manolio & Firestone, PLC, Scottsdale By Veronica L.
Manolio, John C. Shorb Counsel for Defendant/Appellee
Presiding Judge Jon W. Thompson delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Judge Maurice Portley and Judge Patricia K.
THOMPSON, Presiding Judge
Appellants Rostislav Klesla and Kristyna Kleslova (the
Kleslas) appeal from the trial court's order denying
their motion for judgment on an arbitrator's award. For
the following reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2011, the Kleslas entered into a lease agreement (the
lease) to rent Ron Wittenberg's residential property in
Scottsdale for an initial nine-month lease period. After an
initial rent payment, the monthly rental payment was $5495
per month. Pursuant to the lease, the Kleslas put down a $10,
990 security deposit. The lease contained the following
attorneys' fees and costs provision:
The prevailing party in any dispute or claim between Tenant
and Landlord arising out of or relating to this Agreement
shall be awarded all their reasonable attorney fees and
costs. Costs shall include, without limitation, expert
witness fees, fees paid to investigators, and arbitration
After the initial lease period expired, the Kleslas continued
to rent the residence on a month-to-month basis.
Subsequently, they moved out and requested the return of
their security deposit. Wittenberg declined to return the
deposit and the Kleslas filed a complaint in superior court
seeking recovery of their deposit, statutory treble damages,
and punitive damages for alleged fraud committed by
Wittenberg. In their complaint, the Kleslas sought
attorneys' fees and costs "pursuant to the parties
contract, and A.R.S. §§ 12-341 and 12-341.01."
Wittenberg answered and filed a counterclaim for unpaid rent
and alleged damage to the property. The case was assigned to
an arbitrator for compulsory arbitration due to the amount in
controversy. See Ariz. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
The arbitrator held a hearing in November 2013. The
arbitrator signed and filed an arbitration award in early
December 2013 awarding the Kleslas $10, 000 on their
complaint and Wittenberg $904 on his counterclaim. The
arbitrator did not award attorneys' fees or costs to
either party. Neither party timely appealed from the
arbitration award, and the deadline to do so passed in late
December 2013. See Ariz. R. Civ. P. 77.
In mid-January 2014, the Kleslas filed a motion in superior
court entitled "Expedited Motion for Filing of Decision
of Arbitrator and Amended Arbitration Award." The motion
requested the arbitrator to 1) enter a notice of decision
rather than an arbitration award, 2) change the amount
awarded to the Kleslas to $10, 990, to be reduced by the $904
awarded to Wittenberg for a total award of $10, 086, and 3)
"permit the parties the opportunity to submit and weigh
in on the award of attorney [s'] fees and costs . .
.." Wittenberg opposed the motion, arguing that the
arbitrator was divested of jurisdiction.
On March 7, 2014, the arbitrator filed a notice of decision
awarding the Kleslas $10, 000 plus interest and Wittenberg
$904 plus interest. The notice of decision further advised
the parties to submit applications for an award of
attorneys' fees by March 21, 2014. The Kleslas filed an
application for award of attorneys' fees and costs
seeking $8820 in attorneys' fees plus costs. Wittenberg
sought $9253 in attorneys' fees plus costs.
On April 2, 2014, the Kleslas filed a motion for entry of
judgment and request for extension which requested
"entry of judgment on eventual Award of Arbitrator which
shall be filed" and asked the trial court to
"continue its consideration until ...