Tucson Lot 4, LLC v. Sunquest Information Systems, Inc. – 11/22/2016

December 6, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division Two holds that (1) the denial of a forcible detainer is appealable without language pursuant to Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) or (c), and (2) a court cannot enjoin forcible detainer proceedings.

Two companies entered into a commercial lease.  A number of disputes arose, and the tenant requested a preliminary injunction to prevent the landlord from initiating eviction proceedings.  The landlord countered with a claim for forcible detainer.  The court issued the preliminary injunction and denied the forcible detainer claim.  The order did not contain language pursuant to Ariz. R. Civ. P. 54(b) or (c).

The Court of Appeals reversed. 

First, the Court of Appeals held that it had appellate jurisdiction over the denial of the forcible detainer claim despite the lack of Rule 54 language.  The Arizona Rules of Procedure for Eviction Acts (RPEA) state that “[t]he Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure [ARCP] apply only when incorporated by reference in these rules,” and the RPEA do not incorporate ARCP Rule 54.  Furthermore, A.R.S. § 12-1182(A) provides that an appeal may be taken from a forcible detainer action, and Rule 54(b) and (c) do not apply to an order that is independently appealable by statute. 

Second, the Court of Appeals held that the superior court lacked the authority to issue the preliminary injunction.  A landlord has a statutory right to a forcible detainer proceeding, for which “the only issue shall be the actual right of possession.”  A.R.S. § 12-1177(A).  By enjoining that proceeding, the superior court inappropriately injected the issue of hardship into eviction proceedings, where the legislature has stated it does not belong. 

The Court of Appeals therefore reversed and remanded.

Chief Judge Eckerstrom authored the opinion of the court, in which Judges Vasquez and Miller joined.