Premier Physicians Group, PLLC v. Navarro – 7/28/201

August 6, 2015

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that non-hospital health care providers may perfect a medical lien retroactively for services provided in the 30 days preceding recordation of the lien.

Defendant Kimberly Navarro injured a third party in an auto accident, and Premier Physicians treated the injured party from June 29, 2011 through October 9, 2011.  On September 16, 2011, Premier filed a medical lien for services rendered.  Navarro’s auto insurance carrier settled the injury claim in March 2013 and paid the settlement sum to the injured party, who did not pay Premier for any of the services received in 2011.  Premier sued Navarro to recover on the lien, and Navarro moved to dismiss because the lien had not been recorded within 30 days of providing “any services” to the injured party as required by A.R.S. § 33-932.  Premier argued that a medical lien is effective retroactively as long as it was recorded within 30 days of the most recent services.  The trial court agreed with Navarro and dismissed the complaint.  Premier timely appealed.

The Court of Appeals reversed.  A.R.S. § 33-932 allows hospital providers to perfect liens within 30 days of discharge, meaning that the lien applies as long as it is within 30 days of the most recent services.  Allowing non-hospital providers to do the same thing would ignore the distinction made by the legislature between hospital providers and non-hospital providers.  Consequently, Premier’s lien could not cover the entire treatment period, because some treatments occurred more than 30 days before Premier recorded the lien.

Despite that, Premier could still have a valid lien for part of the period.  A.R.S. § 33-932 permits recordation within 30 days after providing services, so Premier’s lien covers services rendered during the 30 days before it recorded the lien on September 16.  The statute allows non-hospital providers to record a lien before providing services as well, and therefore Premier’s lien validly covered services performed between the September 16 recordation and the October 9 cessation of services.

Judge Norris wrote the opinion for the court; Judges Orozco and Cattani.