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Natasha S. v. Department of Child Safety

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 7, 2019

NATASHA S., Appellant,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CHILD SAFETY, Navajo Nation, Whiteflutte Y., R.Y., Appellees.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County, No. JD527942, The Honorable Arthur T. Anderson, Judge. APPEAL DISMISSED

          Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Tucson By Autumn Spritzer Counsel for Appellee Department of Child Safety

          Natasha S., Tempe Appellant

         Chief Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge David D. Weinzweig and Judge Kent E. Cattani joined.

          OPINION

         THUMMA, Chief Judge:

         [¶1] Natasha S. appeals the superior court’s order denying her motion for foster care payments. Because Natasha S. failed to exhaust her administrative remedies, the superior court lacked jurisdiction to consider her motion. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

          FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         [¶2] For a time, Natasha S. was a licensed foster care provider for R.Y. in this dependency proceeding. While R.Y. was in her care, the Department of Child Safety (DCS) Office of Licensing and Regulation denied Natasha S.’s application to renew her foster care license. See Ariz. Rev. Stat. (A.R.S.) § 8-506 (2019).[1] Natasha S. challenged that

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denial administratively and continued to serve as foster placement for R.Y. When DCS affirmed the denial of her foster care license, Natasha S. did not challenge that final agency action in superior court. See A.R.S. § 41-1092.08; 12-901 to -914.[2]

         [¶3] In December 2017, R.Y.’s guardian ad litem moved for an order requiring DCS to pay Natasha S. for foster care provided to R.Y. through November 2017. The superior court granted that motion and DCS paid the amount ordered; that order and payment are not part of this appeal. Later, Natasha S. moved for an order requiring DCS to pay her for foster care provided to R.Y. in December 2017. The superior court denied the motion, and Natasha S. timely filed this appeal challenging that denial.

          DISCUSSION

         [¶4] Natasha S. asserts appellate jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § § 8-235(A) and 12-120.21(A)(1). DCS counters that Natasha S. is not an "aggrieved party" as required by A.R.S. § 8-235(A) and, alternatively, that the superior court lacked jurisdiction to consider her motion. Assuming (without deciding) that Natasha S. was an aggrieved party, the superior court lacked jurisdiction to consider her motion.

         [¶5] "[A]ppellate jurisdiction is derivative," meaning that "when jurisdiction is lacking in the trial court, it is lacking on appeal." Webb v. Charles, 125 Ariz. 558, 565, 611 P.2d 562 (App. 1980). This court "cannot consider an appeal from the superior court on the merits unless the superior court has jurisdiction." Riendeau v. ...


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