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Civil Procedure: Appeal of Agency ALJ Decision is to Superior Court

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Jun 05, 2017 | 0 Comments

Johnson v. Arizona Dept of Registrars,  __ Ariz. Adv. Rep. __, No. 1 CA-CV 16-026 (App. Div. I, May 25, 2017) (J. Norris)


Plaintiff filed claim with Registrar of Contractors [Registrar] for faulty roof work and prevailed. However, plaintiffs' claim against the Recovery Fund for damages was denied, taken to an administrative law judge [ALJ] and denied there as well. A.R.S. § 41-1092.08(B) (2013).  Plaintiff attempted to appeal the ALJ decision to the “Registrar of Contractors.”  By the time plaintiff actually initiated a proceeding in superior court, the deadline for filing a Notice of Appeal had run and the Registrar was not named as a party.

The trial court dismissed plaintiffs claim and the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed.

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” (emphasis added). The deadline for filing an administrative appeal is jurisdictional. Under the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure, you “commence” an “action” by filing a Complaint in Superior Court.  Accordingly 12-904(A) provides no latitude for filing an appeal with the agency rather than the court.  To the contrary,  the  statute requires you name the agency as a respondent in your appeal of that ALJ agency decision. 

Bottom line: If you want to appeal any ALJ decision, do it within 35 days of being served with the decision and appeal by commencing an action “[plaintiff] vs ‘Agency'” in superior court.

About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".


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