Party Who Prevails on Quiet Title Claims But Loses on Other Claims May Still Win Attorney Fees

The Arizona Court of Appeals held this week that at a property owner who prevailed on quiet title and adverse possession claim was entitled to recover her attorney fees under Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-1103(B), even though the opposing property owner prevailed on other claims involving conversion, private nuisance, trespass, and unjust enrichment.  The court found, in Cook v. Grebe, that the other claims were only relevant in determining whether to award fees and in what amount.  The court upheld … Continued

Attempts to Salvage a Defective Deed of Trust Can Be Risky

The Arizona Court of Appeals this week upheld a trial court’s dismissal of a bank’s attempt to cure a defective deed of trust as untimely.  In Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Pheasant Grove, LLC, the Court of Appeals held that the bank waited too long to correct a defective property description on a $1.2 million loan on a Scottsdale residence given in 2003.  When the homeowners subsequently defaulted on a second loan of $800,000, the home was sold at … Continued

Workers’ Compensation Carriers May Recover Nearly All Benefits Paid From Third-party Settlements

An Arizona Supreme Court decision may ease the burden of negligence on workers’ compensation carriers when third parties are involved – and possibly make settlements more difficult. In Twin City Fire Insurance Co. v Leija, the court limited the reach of its 1995 decision that allowed such carriers to assert a lien on third-party awards only to the extent that the compensation benefits paid exceeded the judge or jury’s determination of the employer’s share of the total damages. For example, … Continued

Court Sets Aside Default Judgment When Plaintiff Made No Attempt to Contact Defendant Electronically

The Arizona Court of Appeals earlier this month upheld the setting aside of a default judgment when the evidence showed that the plaintiff served the defendant by publication only even though he knew her email address, phone number, and how to contact the defendant through social media. In Ruffino v. Lokosky, the court agreed with the lower court “that modern methods of communication, especially email, were more likely to give [the defendant] notice of a suit than publication in a … Continued

Prior Agreement’s Forum Selection Clause was Still Enforceable

The Arizona Court of Appeals has upheld a forum selection clause against a doctor who, after selling his interest in an urgent care business to the new corporate buyer, was offered an employment position with a Phoenix-based hospital group. When the new corporate buyer, FastMed Urgent Care, P.C., attempted to enforce a five-year covenant not to compete clause, the doctor lost his new employment position and sued Fast-Med for damages. The doctor argued that the forum selection clause did not … Continued

An Insurer’s Duty to Defend Arose From Common Law Claim

The Arizona Supreme Court last month held that an insurance company had a duty to defend a homeowner who was sued by the new owner of a Paradise Valley mountainside home after it was damaged by a rock slide. In Teufel v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., the Court found that a provisions of the insurance policy that excluded liability claims arising under a contract did not apply because the new owner had alleged a negligence claim arising under tort, … Continued

Homeowners Can Assign Post-Loss Claims Despite Anti-Assignment Provisions

An insurance company cannot limit an insured’s assignment of a post-loss claim, at least in so far as the assignee is simply standing in the shoes of the insured. In Farmer’s Insurance Exchange v. EcoDry Restoration of Arizona, LLC, the Arizona Court of Appeals last month rejected the insurance company’s argument that, despite Arizona’s case and statutory law allowing such assignments, the insured should only be allowed to assign the claim when the amount of the loss is undisputed. The … Continued

US Supreme Court Upholds Patent Office’s Right to Re-examine a Business’s Right to a Patent

In two decisions this month, the U.S. Supreme Court lessened the grip of patent holders slightly while also restraining the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from proceeding too quickly. Both cases dealt with the authority of the Patent Office, and, to some extent, the limits of administrative agency power. Both involved the process called “interpartes review.” Under this procedure, any individual or business can petition the Patent Office to cancel one or more claims in a patent on the grounds … Continued

Supreme Court Finds Car Dealership Advisors Exempt from Federal Overtime Rule

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that service advisors at automobile dealerships are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The opinion was not one to attract much attention, except perhaps to a handful of employment lawyers with automobile dealerships as clients, but it was a useful reminder that federal labor laws are not as universal as many might expect. In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, Justice Thomas reasoned that there was no reason not to consider service … Continued

Tardy Parent at Termination Hearing Can Still Testify

Under Arizona law, an Arizona court may terminate a mother or father’s parental rights under a number of circumstances, including abandonment, neglect or willful abuse or even prolonged or continuing drug or alcohol abuse, if the court finds that termination is in the best interests of the child. And, under an Arizona statute, if a parent fails to attend the termination hearing after being warned of the consequences, the court may find that the parent has waived his or her … Continued