ARS 12-348(A)(2) Interpretation
In Columbia Parcar Corp. v. Ariz. Dep't of Transp., 193 Ariz. 181, 183, P 11, 971 P.2d 1042, 1044 (App. 1999), the plaintiff had persuaded the superior court to set aside portions of an administrative order for further administrative proceedings on remand. Columbia, 193 Ariz. at 182, P 8, 971 P.2d at 1043.
The court, however, declined to award attorneys' fees to the plaintiff pursuant to A.R.S. 12-348(A)(2), which provides for fees to a party that prevails by an adjudication on the merits in a court proceeding to review a state agency decision. Id. at 183, P 9, 971 P.2d at 1044.
A.R.S. 12-348(A)(2) provides:
(A) In addition to any costs which are awarded as prescribed by statute, a court shall award fees and other expenses to any party other than this state or a city, town or county which prevails by an adjudication on the merits in any of the following:. . . .
2. a court proceeding to review a state agency decision, pursuant to . . . any . . . statute authorizing judicial review of agency decisions.
The Court explained in that case that the word "merits" "embraces a consideration of substance, not of form; of legal rights, not of mere defects of procedure or practice or the technicalities thereof." Id. at P 15.
Thus, the remand ruling was procedural and did not qualify as an adjudication on the merits, notwithstanding the court's determinations on which issues to remand. Id.