A.R.S. § 33-420(B) provides for a special action to remove any forged, groundless, or invalid liens that cloud an owner’s title to real property. This procedure is available in addition to a claim for damages caused by the filing of the groundless lien. The rules for special actions are laid out in the Arizona Rules of Procedure for Special Actions, which are designed to replace the traditional writs available at common law.
The Purpose of Special Actions
Arizona’s special actions are designed to replace relief previous available using a writ of certiorari, mandamus, or prohibition. Ariz. R. P. Special Actions R. 1. A writ of certiorari was used by a superior court to request a review of a lower court’s ruling. These writs are still used by the Supreme Court of the United States to review decisions of the court of appeals.
The writ of mandamus is an order by a court to a lower court or other government body to either do something that it is legally required to do, or to refrain from doing something that is prevented from doing by law. These writs were usually limited to ministerial or imperative duties, meaning that the duty should be specially required by the law. Writs of mandamus were not appropriate for instructing public officials to complete discretionary tasks.
Finally, the writ of prohibition is used to stop a lower court or other government official from taking an action. For example, a higher court could issue a writ of prohibition to a lower court to stop it from hearing a case that is outside its jurisdiction.
The special action takes the place of these writs, but retains the essential purpose of being used to get an order instructing a government body on what to do.
Special Actions Under A.R.S. 33-420
A special action under Arizona’s groundless liens statute should be brought in the superior court of the county where the property is located. The court is given discretion is take certain actions that are not available in a typical lawsuit, such as the ability to modify the time periods given to parties to file pleadings, when doing so will achieve an expeditious determination of the outcome. Ariz. R. P. Special Actions R. 4.
If the owner of title is successful in their special action, the court will order that the invalid lien be removed from the title. This action can be brought along with a claim for damages under A.R.S. 33-420(A), and the prevailing party may recover reasonable attorney fees and costs.
Chernoff Law handles real estate litigation matters throughout Arizona. Contact us by calling 480-719-7307 to discuss your real estate matters.