Apache Produce Imports, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company, Plaintiff/Appellant,
Malena Produce, Inc., an Arizona corporation; Delta Fresh, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company; and Delta Fresh Sales, LLC, an Arizona limited liability company, Defendants/Appellees.
from the Superior Court in Santa Cruz County No.
S1200CV201800219 The Honorable Denneen L. Peterson, Judge Pro
and Brooke LLP, Phoenix By William F. Auther, Travis M.
Wheeler, and David T. Lundmark Counsel for
McNamara Goldsmith PC, Tucson By Eugene N. Goldsmith and
Maria del Pilar Mendoza Counsel for Defendants/Appellees
Presiding Judge Eppich authored the opinion of the Court, in
which Chief Judge Vásquez and Judge Eckerstrom
EPPICH, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Apache Produce Imports LLC ("Apache") appeals from
the trial court's grant of stay to Malena Produce Inc.,
Delta Fresh LLC, and Delta Fresh Sales LLC (collectively
"Malena"). Apache argues the court abused its
discretion because issuance of the stay was effectively a
denial, without proper consideration, of Apache's pending
request for a preliminary injunction. Because we conclude the
court effectively denied the preliminary injunction request
without considering it under the proper legal standard, we
vacate the stay and remand the case for consideration of the
preliminary injunction request.
and Procedural Background
The present action stems from an ongoing dispute between
Apache, a produce distributor, and International Greenhouse
Produce S.A. de C.V. ("IGP"), a Mexican corporation
that grows and markets produce. In 2008, IGP and Apache
agreed that Apache would be IGP's produce distributor for
ten years, but IGP disputes that, in 2016, it extended that
agreement for five more years. That dispute is the subject of
ongoing litigation in Mexico related to IGP's corporate
governance, and also in Arizona, where IGP has sued for a
declaration that the extension is invalid. See Int'l
Greenhouse Produce, S.A. de C.V. v. Apache Produce Imports,
LLC, No. 2 CA-CV 2018-0147, ¶¶ 1-3, 6-7 (Ariz.
App. Apr. 5, 2019) (mem. decision) (vacating trial
court's denial of Apache's request for preliminary
injunction against IGP but finding no jurisdiction to review
court's grant of IGP's request for stay).
Malena entered an agreement with IGP to distribute IGP's
produce for the 2018-19 growing season, Apache sued Malena
for interference with contract and unjust enrichment, seeking
money damages and an injunction preventing Malena from
receiving or distributing IGP's produce. Apache then
applied for a temporary restraining order and a hearing on
its preliminary injunction request. Four weeks later, Malena
moved to stay the case. Without addressing Apache's
pending request for injunctive relief, the trial court
granted the stay, finding it would "save substantial
resources" and "avoid multiple suits on the same
subject matter, piecemeal litigation, difficult questions of
foreign law that bear upon important policy issues, and
conflicting judgments by different courts." Apache filed
a special action, in which this court summarily declined to
accept jurisdiction. See Apache Produce Imports, LLC v.
Malena Produce, Inc., No. 2 CA-SA 2018-0072 (Ariz. App.
Nov. 20, 2018) (order). Apache timely appealed.
Apache contends that we have jurisdiction in this case under
A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(5)(b), which provides appellate
jurisdiction from orders "refusing to grant . . . an
injunction." Apache acknowledges that the trial court
did not explicitly refuse to grant the injunction, but argues
it effectively did so by granting Malena's stay request
without considering the pending injunction request.
We agree the trial court effectively refused to grant the
requested injunction. Before hearing the preliminary
injunction request, the court held a hearing on Malena's
later-filed stay motion. At the hearing, the court granted
the stay from the bench without considering the pending
preliminary injunction request and confirmed that the grant
of stay was final pending results in the related litigation.
Malena contends the trial court did not refuse the injunction
request because the court may still address it after the
other litigation resolves. But "preliminary injunctive
relief exists for a reason: to provide 'speedy
relief from irreparable injury.'" Apple, Inc. v.
Samsung Elecs. Co.,678 F.3d 1314, 1334 (Fed. Cir. 2012)
(O'Malley, Circuit Judge, concurring in part, dissenting
in part) (emphasis added) (quoting Ross-Whitney Corp. v.
Smith Kline & French Labs.,207 F.2d 190, 198 (9th
Cir. 1953)). By indefinitely postponing any possibility for
relief, the stay order effectively denied Apache ...