Johnson v. Arizona Dept of Registrars, __ Ariz. Adv. Rep. __, No. 1 CA-CV 16-026 (App. Div. I, May 25, 2017) (J. Norris)
APPEAL OF AGENCY DECISION BY ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE IS TO SUPERIOR COURT & NOT TO AGENCY
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.