from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2017-000467
The Honorable Lindsay P. Abramson, Judge Pro Tempore
Law PLLC, Sedona By Julie A. LaBenz Counsel for
Tiffany & Bosco P.A., Phoenix By Leonard J. McDonald,
Jr., Michael F. Bosco Counsel for Claimant/Appellee
Presiding Judge Paul J. McMurdie delivered the opinion of the
Court, in which Judge Randall M. Howe and Judge Jennifer B.
Kevork and Christiane Bekelian appeal the superior
court's order releasing the excess proceeds from a
trustee's sale to JP Morgan Chase Bank NA ("Chase
Bank"). We hold if a junior claimant files an
application for excess proceeds resulting from a
trustee's sale, and the superior court has reason to know
a senior claimant may exist, the court may not issue an order
releasing the proceeds until at least 180 days from the date
the complaint is filed. See Ariz. Rev. Stat.
("A.R.S.") § 33-812(G), (J). In so holding, we
reject the argument that A.R.S. § 33-812(J) imposes a
180-day deadline for applying for excess proceeds.
Accordingly, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
The Bekelians owned real property in Scottsdale. In 2003 and
2007, they executed deeds of trust against the property.
Chase Bank is the beneficiary of the 2007 deed of trust. In
November 2016, a trustee sold the property at a trustee's
sale for $375, 100 based on the 2003 deed of trust. After
satisfaction of the debt owed to the foreclosing beneficiary
and payment of the trustee's attorney's fees and
costs, excess proceeds totaling $167, 031.42 remained. At the
time of the trustee's sale, Chase Bank's principal
payoff balance was $220, 000.
On January 9, 2017, the trustee deposited the excess proceeds
with the county treasurer, filed a civil complaint, and was
discharged from the proceedings. See A.R.S. §
33-812(C), (D). On July 10, 2017, the Bekelians applied for
release of the excess proceeds. See A.R.S. §
33-812(G). Approximately three weeks later, Chase Bank filed
a response and separately applied for release of the excess
proceeds, arguing that as the second lien holder it was
entitled to the excess proceeds. In response, the Bekelians
argued Chase Bank's application was untimely.
Chase Bank moved for entry of judgment. The parties
stipulated to material facts, including that the complaint
identified Chase Bank's second lien as having priority
over the Bekelians' interest. The superior court awarded
Chase Bank the excess proceeds, finding it timely responded
to the Bekelians' application and had a superior claim to
the proceeds. The Bekelians appealed, and we have
jurisdiction under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1).
The Bekelians argue the superior court erred by releasing the
excess proceeds to Chase Bank. They contend A.R.S. §
33-812(J) establishes a 180-day deadline for applying for
excess proceeds and any response. Accordingly, they argue
they timely filed their application, while Chase Bank
untimely filed its application and response. Therefore, the
court should have awarded the Bekelians the excess proceeds.
The text of A.R.S. § 33-812, however, does not support
Statutory interpretation presents a question of law, which we
review de novo. In re Estate of Bradley, 244 Ariz.
431, 432, ¶ 7 (App. 2018). Our primary goal when
interpreting a statute is to give effect to the
legislature's intent. J.D. v. Hegyi, 236 Ariz.
39, 40, ¶ 6 (2014). "If a statute's language is
clear and unambiguous, it is the best indicator of that
intent, and we apply it as written without resorting to other
methods of statutory interpretation." State v.
Kemmish, 244 Ariz. 314, 316, ¶ 10 (App. 2018).
"When possible, we seek to harmonize statutory
provisions and avoid interpretations that result in
contradictory provisions." Premiere Physicians Grp.,
PLLC v. Navarro, 240 Ariz. 193, 195, ¶ 9 (2016);
see also State v. Seyrafi, 201 Ariz. 147, 150,
¶ 14 (App. 2001) (statutory provisions must be
"construed in context with related provisions and in
light of their place in the statutory scheme"). "We
presume the legislature did not intend to write a statute
that contains a void, meaningless, or futile provision,"
and when possible, we interpret a statute to give meaning to
every word or phrase. State v. Pitts, 178 Ariz. 405,
After a property is sold at a trustee's sale, A.R.S.
§ 33-812(A) "governs the trustee's application
of the sale proceeds and specifies the order of priority to
be given." PNC Bank v. Cabinetry by Karman,
Inc.,230 Ariz. 363, 365, ¶ 7 (App. 2012).
"Rather than distribute the funds, the trustee may elect
to deposit the balance of the proceeds with the county
treasurer and commence a civil action." Id.
(citing A.R.S. § 33-812(C)-(D)). In a complaint
commencing a civil action, the trustee must include a
"narrative description of the liens and encumbrances [on
the property], including an analysis of the apparent priority
of potential claimants." Id. (citing A.R.S.
§ 33-812(D)(4)). Once the trustee fulfills the
obligations outlined in A.R.S. § 33-812, including
mailing a copy of the complaint to any "person known by