ARS 33-420(A) Interpretation

In Wyatt v. Wehmueller, 167 Ariz. 281, 284, 806 P.2d 870, 873 (1991), the court addressed the issue of whether "damages can be assessed against a client pursuant to 33-420(A) when an attorney files a lis pendens without the client's knowledge or consent." 167 Ariz. at 283, 806 P.2d at 872. The court found that A.R.S. 33-420(A) includes a scienter requirement manifested by the "knowing or have reason to know" language in the statute. Id. The court noted that "under agency law principles, plaintiffs are responsible for their attorney's actions." Id. However, the court found that on the facts presented "sanctions are undeserved because the client did not have the requisite scienter to cause the filing of a wrongful lis pendens." Id. at 285, 806 P.2d at 874. The lis pendens was filed by the attorney without the clients having any basis to know such a filing was improper. Id. at 284, 806 P.2d at 873. The court determined that 33-420(A) "requires a knowing violation before its sanctions will be imposed," and "thus imposes liability on the claimant (i.e., the client instead of the lawyer) for causing the filing of a lis pendens only if he knows or has reason to know the lis pendens claim is invalid." Id.