Beck v. Hy-Tech Performance, Inc. – 1/8/2015

February 3, 2015

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that Arizona’s garage lien statute, A.R.S. § 33-1022(A), creates a lien in favor of a garage proprietor when the owner of a motor vehicle agrees to the amount of some, but not all, of the charges for repairs.

Martin Beck took his car to Hy-Tech Performance, Inc. to fix an idling problem so the car would pass emissions testing.  Over the course of the next several weeks, Hy-Tech performed multiple repairs to try and resolve the problem.  Beck agreed to most, but not all, of the repairs.  When Beck went to pick up the car, he was given a bill for $2,418.33.  Beck refused to pay, arguing that he had not authorized the work.  In response, Hy-Tech kept the car.

The Becks filed suit against Hy-Tech for conversion and sought an order of replevin.  The superior court issued a provisional order of replevin and the Sheriff’s Office executed the order and retrieved the car on behalf of the Becks.

Hy-Tech then counterclaimed for breach of contract.  After a bench trial, the superior court ruled in favor of Hy-Tech on the Becks’ conversion claim and on its counterclaim for breach of contract and awarded it $1,907.71 in damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

The central issue on appeal was whether Hy-Tech possessed a lien on the car in order to retain possession.  A.R.S. § 33-1022(A) provides that “proprietors of garages” are entitled to a lien on a motor vehicle for the amount of agreed-upon charges “for labor, materials, supplies and storage.”

In affirming the superior court’s decision, the Court of Appeals held that under A.R.S. § 33-1022(A), a garage proprietor does not lose an otherwise valid lien if the vehicle owner agrees to the amount of some but not all of the garage’s charges.  The parties’ dispute regarding certain other charges does not impact the validity of the original lien, but only limits the garage proprietor’s recovery when foreclosing the lien on the vehicle to those charges to which the owner expressly agreed.

Finally, the Court found that Hy-Tech did not materially breach the contract nor did it breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing when it refused to surrender possession of the car.  The Court similarly rejected Beck’s conversion and replevin claims.

Presiding Judge Norris authored the opinion; Judges Winthrop and Gemmill concurred.