McCurry v. Industrial Commission of Arizona – 7/7/2011

July 14, 2011

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One Holds That the Thirty-Day Provision in A.R.S. § 23-942(A) is Not Jurisdictional.

Stephen McCurry filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking redress for alleged workplace injuries.  On March 10, 2010, the Industrial Commission of Arizona held a hearing on the claim.  On May 21, 2010, the Industrial Commission of Arizona (“ICA”) issued its decision that Mr. McCurry’s claim was noncompensable.  Mr. McCurry immediately appealed, arguing that the award should be set aside because the decision was issued past the thirty-day period set forth in A.R.S. § 23-942(A). 

On appeal, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the ICA’s award, concluding that the thirty-day provision in A.R.S. § 23-942(A) is not jurisdictional.  In Arizona, administrative law judges are required by statute to determine any matter that has been submitted for decision “and make an award in accordance with [the] determination” no later than “thirty days after the matter is submitted for decision.”  A.R.S. § 23-942(A).  Although the plain language of § 23-942(A) appears to impose a mandatory thirty-day limit, Arizona courts have interpreted various analogous statutes as “directive and not mandatory.”  See Shockey v. Indus. Comm’n140 Ariz. 113, 117, 680 P.2d 823, 827 (App. 1983) (holding that a statutory requirement to issue a decision in sixty days was not mandatory).  Noting that the legislature did not specify a remedy or consequence for untimely decisions in § 23-942(A), the Court of Appeals concluded that it would be inappropriate for it to do so in this case. 

Judge Portley authored the opinion; Judges Winthrop and Weisberg concurred.