Murphy v. Woomer – 11/27/2020

December 9, 2020

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two holds that a workshop built on property is a fixture, not personal property, regardless of the subjective intent of the workshop’s builder.

A man sued a woman after she denied him access to a workshop that was located on her property.  The man had built the workshop while he was living at the woman’s house.  After the man stopped living at the house, the woman told him he could no longer use the workshop.  The man argued that the woman had converted his property.  The trial court rejected this claim.  It held that there was no conversion of property because the workshop was a fixture to the real property owned by the woman.  The man appealed, arguing that, in determining whether the workshop was a fixture to the woman’s property, the trial court should have considered his subjective intent while building the workshop.

The Court of Appeals affirmed, agreeing with the trial court that the workshop was a permanent fixture to the property.  The Court clarified that, when determining whether an item is a fixture to real property, courts consider the objective intent “to be gleaned from the appearance the item . . . created when it was placed upon the reality,” and do not consider the subjective intent of the person affixing the property.  Accordingly, the man’s subjective intention was properly not considered by the trial court.

Judge Espinosa authored the opinion; Judge Eppich and Judge Eckerstrom concurred.