Brumett v. MGA Home Healthcare, LLC – 7/28/2016

August 5, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that the Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over non-final judgments or orders lacking Rule 54(b) and (c) language when a statute authorizing appellate jurisdiction expressly permits appellate review of non-final judgments or orders.

The jurisdiction for the Court of Appeals is defined by statute.  A.R.S § 12-2101(A)(1) provides that an appeal may be taken from a “final judgment.”  The rules of civil procedure provide that such final judgments can be as to all claims and parties (Rule 54(c)), or less than all claims or parties (Rule 54(b)).  Rule 54(b) and 54(c) each have their own standards and require specific language in the ruling to make a judgment qualify as “final.”  Although interlocutory orders that do not qualify as “final” under Rules 54(b) or (c) are generally not appealable, a number of statutory provisions authorize appeals of rulings that are not “final” under § 12-2101(A)(1).

This case consolidated twelve pending appeals where appellate jurisdiction was based on some authority other than § 12-2101(A)(1) and Rule 54(b) and (c). The question presented in the consolidated appeal was whether the specific Rule 54(b) or (c) language is required to create appellate jurisdiction in other contexts outside of appeals from “final judgments” under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1).

The Court held that Rule 54(b) or 54(c) language is required in three categories:

  • Final Judgments Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1).  This section expressly requires a final judgment.
  • Title 14 Probate Judgments, Decrees, or Orders Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(9).  Previous cases have required that these be final and probate court rules generally apply the rules of civil procedure.
  • Action to Review an Administrative Decision Under A.R.S. § 12-913.  Section § 12-913 authorizes judicial review of certain administrative actions under Arizona’s Administrative Procedure Act.  The language of this statute authorizes appellate jurisdiction but only for “final” decisions, orders, judgments or decrees. 

In the remaining categories of claims, the Court held that Rule 54(b) or 54(c) language is not required because the applicable statutes expressly provide for appellate jurisdiction despite the interlocutory or non-final nature of the judgments or orders.

  • Special Orders Made After Final Judgment Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(2).  Although the special order must come after a final judgment, nothing in the statute requires that the special order itself must be a final judgment with its own Rule 54(b) or (c) language.
  • Interlocutory Judgments Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(6), (7), and (8).  These include interlocutory judgments regarding accountings, partitions, or redemptions of real or personal property from a mortgage.
  • Specified Orders Under A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(3), (4), (5)(a)-(d), (10), and (11).  These specific pre- or post-judgment requests for relief include orders that in effect prevent an appealable judgment; orders made in a special proceeding or on a summary application after judgment; and certain orders regarding a new trial, an injunction, an attachment or garnishment, restoration of the right to possess a firearm, insanity or competence, and habeas corpus.
  • Rulings Regarding Arbitration Proceedings Under A.R.S. § 12-2101.01.  This statute authorizes appeals in arbitration matters including certain orders to compel or stay arbitration, deny confirmation of or modify or correct an arbitration award, vacate an award without a rehearing, and certain other arbitration-related judgments or decrees. 
  • Certification or Refusal to Certify a Class Action Under A.R.S. § 12-1873(A).  This statute effectively overruled a previous case holding that class certification decisions could not be appealed.

Vice Chief Judge Thumma authored the opinion; Judges Cattani and Howe concurred.

Disclosure: Osborn Maledon attorneys were involved in this case.