Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Hoag – 1/28/2016

February 16, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that the statute and rule limiting the amount of bond for a stay of judgment pending appeal do not prevent the court from making other orders to preserve the status quo or the effectiveness of a judgment.

A bank obtained a judgment against the beneficiary of several trusts.  The bank then sued the beneficiary and the trusts and obtained a declaratory ruling that the spendthrift provisions, which would have protected the trusts’ assets from collection, were invalid and ineffective.  The trial court stayed in enforcement of that judgment pending appeal.  It held that no supersedeas bond was required under the formulae in A.R.S. § 12-2108 and the related Arizona Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 7.  The trial court further denied the bank’s alternative request that all distributions from the trusts be escrowed pending resolution of the appeal.

The Court of Appeals granted a special action review but did not address whether the bond formula in A.R.S. § 12-2108 and Rule 7 applies only to money judgments.  Instead it held that the statute and rule do not limit the availability of other forms of relief.  The Legislature’s recent change to the statute does not address other relief and the Arizona Supreme Court maintained the language in Rule 7 that a trial court may make further orders to preserve the status quo or effectiveness of the judgment.  A review of cases from other state and federal courts confirms the appropriateness of this practice.  Where the appellee would suffer real harm during the pendency of the appeal, the superior court may act to preserve the benefit of the judgment.  The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded for the trial court to consider whether the bank’s escrow proposal or other relief would be appropriate. 

Judge Norris authored the opinion; Presiding Judge Kessler and Judge Cattani concurred.