PAMELA A. JOHNSON, Plaintiff/Appellant,
ARIZONA REGISTRAR OF CONTRACTORS, Defendant/Appellee.
from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No.
LC2015-000452-001 The Honorable Crane McClennen, Retired
Law Firm, Phoenix By Robert S. Porter, Ryan P. Dyches Counsel
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By John R.
Tellier, Thomas C. Raine Counsel for Defendant/Appellee
Patricia K. Norris delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge Kenton D. Jones and Judge Paul J.
Pamela A. Johnson, Plaintiff/Appellant, appeals the superior
court's order dismissing her "appeal" from a
final administrative decision of the Arizona Registrar of
Contractors, Defendant/Appellee. Johnson argues that because
Arizona Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section
12-904(A) (2016) does not state where an appealing party must
file a notice of appeal from a final administrative decision,
she was entitled to file her notice of appeal with the
Registrar, instead of with the superior court. We reject this
argument and affirm the superior court's order dismissing
her appeal as untimely.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In 2010, homeowners hired Forsythe and Sons Construction,
Inc. ("Forsythe") to complete roofing work on their
house. In 2012, the homeowners sold the house to Johnson.
After Johnson obtained possession of the house, she
discovered that the roof leaked. Subsequently, she filed a
complaint against Forsythe with the Registrar. An
investigator for the Registrar investigated her complaint and
issued a "Corrective Work Order" giving Forsythe 15
days to correct the deficient work. Forsythe failed to
correct the work and ultimately the Registrar issued a finite
suspension of Forsythe's license.
On October 7, 2014, Johnson filed a recovery fund claim with
the Registrar. The Registrar denied her claim and Johnson
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
("ALJ") of the Office of Administrative Hearings
("OAH") to challenge the Registrar's denial.
After conducting a hearing, the ALJ ruled the Registrar had
appropriately denied Johnson's claim. Pursuant to A.R.S.
§ 41-1092.08(B) (2013) (director may accept, reject, or
modify ALJ's decision), the Registrar accepted the
ALJ's decision and the Registrar's decision became
the final administrative decision in the case on September
15, 2015 ("September 15 Registrar Decision").
On October 14, 2015, Johnson attempted to appeal the
September 15 Registrar Decision by filing a document entitled
"Complainant's Notice of Appeal" with the
Registrar (the "Registrar NOA"). That document
listed Forsythe, but not the Registrar, as the
"Respondent." Johnson did not file the Registrar
NOA in the superior court. On October 21, 2015, Johnson
delivered to the Registrar and the OAH a document entitled
"Complainant's A.R.S. § 12-904B Notice."
Johnson did not file that document in the superior court
either. Finally, on October 27, 2015, Johnson filed a
document entitled "Notice of Appeal from and Request for
Review of Final Administrative Decision" in the superior
court, listing Maricopa County as "Appellee" (the
"Superior Court NOA"). That document did not list
the Registrar as a party, however.
The Registrar moved to dismiss, arguing Johnson's
Superior Court NOA was untimely under A.R.S. §
12-904(A), a statute that sets forth the procedure and
deadlines for filing an action to review a final
administrative decision. While that motion was pending,
Johnson moved to amend the caption to substitute the
Registrar and Forsythe as appellees. Although the superior
court granted that motion, the superior court nevertheless
granted the Registrar's motion to dismiss, finding
Johnson's Superior Court NOA untimely under A.R.S. §
On appeal, Johnson does not dispute that she did not file her
Superior Court NOA within the deadline established by A.R.S.
§ 12-904(A).Instead, Johnson argues A.R.S. §
12-904(A) fails to state where an appealing party must file a
notice of appeal from a final administrative decision and,
therefore, the superior court should not have dismissed her
appeal because she filed the Registrar NOA with the Registrar
before the statutory appeal deadline expired. Exercising de
novo review on this issue, we disagree. See Doty-Perez v.
Doty-Perez, 241 Ariz. 372, 375, ¶ 17, 388 P.3d 9,
12 (App. 2016) (appellate court interprets statutes de novo)
(citation omitted); M-11 Ltd. P'ship v. Gommard,
235 Ariz. 166, 168, ¶ 6, 330 P.3d 356, 358 (App. 2014)
(appellate court reviews motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction de novo).
The process for judicial review of final administrative
decisions is set out in title 12, chapter 7, article 6,
A.R.S. §§ 12-901 to -914 (2016). Under A.R.S.
§ 12-904(A), "[a]n action to review a final
administrative decision shall be commenced by filing a notice
of appeal within thirty-five days from the date when a copy
of the decision sought to be reviewed is served upon the
party affected." The deadline for filing an
administrative appeal is jurisdictional. Smith v. Ariz.
Citizens Clean Elections Comm'n,212 Ariz. 407, 413,
¶ 25, 132 P.3d 1187, 1193 (2006) (citation omitted). An
untimely filing deprives the court of subject matter
jurisdiction, and the appealing party forfeits the right to
seek judicial review. M-11 Ltd. P'ship, 235
Ariz. at 168, ¶ 2, 330 P.3d at 358; see also
A.R.S. § 12-902(B) ("Unless review is sought of an