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Premier Physicians Group, PLLC v. Navarro

Supreme Court of Arizona

August 30, 2016

Premier Physicians Group, PLLC, an Arizona professional LLC, dba Premier Pain Management, LLC, an Arizona Limited Liability Company, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
Kimberly Navarro and Eddie Navarro, Wife and Husband, Defendants/Appellees.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable Mark F. Aceto, Judge No. CV2014-090145

         Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One 238 Ariz. 156, 357 P.3d 840 (App. 2015)

          H. Lee Dove, Trevor J. Fish, (argued), Evans, Dove & Nelson, P.L.C., Mesa, Attorneys for Premier Physicians Group, PLLC dba Premier Pain Management, LLC

          Joel DeCiancio (argued), Christopher Robbins, Hill, Hall & DeCiancio, PLC, Phoenix, Attorneys for Kimberly and Eddie Navarro

          David L. Abney, Dana R. Roberts, Knapp & Roberts, P.C., Scottsdale; and Geoffrey M. Trachtenberg, Levenbaum Trachtenberg, PLC, Phoenix, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers Association

          JUSTICE BOLICK authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, and JUSTICES BRUTINEL and TIMMER joined.

          OPINION

          BOLICK, JUSTICE

         ¶1 We granted review to decide when a non-hospital health care provider may perfect a lien to secure its charges. This case turns on the statutory requirement that such a lien must be recorded "before or within thirty days after the patient has received any services relating to the injuries . . . ." A.R.S. § 33-932(A). We hold that the statute requires providers to record their liens within thirty days after first providing services.

         I.

         ¶2 Between June and October 2011, Premier Physicians Group ("Premier") treated Mandy Gipson for injuries sustained in a car accident allegedly caused by Kimberly Navarro. Health care providers like Premier are statutorily entitled to record liens for their "customary charges" in treating an injured person; such liens apply to claims the injured person may have for damages related to the injury that required treatment. A.R.S. § 33-931(A). These liens are perfected by recording pursuant to A.R.S. § 33-932. On September 16, 2011, Premier recorded a lien to secure payment of approximately $12, 000 for its services. In March 2013, the Navarros' insurer paid Gipson directly to settle her claim but did not satisfy the lien. Gipson failed to pay Premier for the services it rendered to her.

         ¶3 In January 2014, Premier sued the Navarros under A.R.S. § 33- 934 to enforce the lien. The Navarros moved to dismiss the action because the lien was recorded more than thirty days after Premier first provided services to Gipson. Premier argued that § 33-932(A) allowed it to perfect the lien within thirty days after services were last provided. Agreeing with the Navarros' statutory interpretation, the trial court dismissed the complaint.

         ¶4 The court of appeals reversed, interpreting § 33-932 as allowing health care providers to record liens within thirty days after the final service but reaching back only to charges incurred within the thirty days before the lien was recorded. Premier Physicians Grp., PLLC v. Navarro, 238 Ariz. 156, 357 P.3d 840 (App. 2015). The court also granted attorney fees to Premier as the prevailing party on appeal under A.R.S. §§ 33-934(B), 12-341. Id. at 159 ¶ 11, 357 P.3d at 843. The Navarros filed a petition for review as to the court of appeals' statutory interpretation and the attorney fees award.

         ¶5 We granted review because the recording requirement for perfecting health care provider liens is a legal question with statewide significance. See Blankenbaker v. Jonovich,205 Ariz. 383, 385 ¶ 7, 71 P.3d 910, 912 (2003). We have jurisdiction under ...


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