Columbia Parcar Corp. v. Arizona Department of Transportation
In Columbia Parcar Corp. v. Arizona Department of Transportation, 193 Ariz. 181, 971 P.2d 1042 (App. 1999), the issue was whether a superior court ruling directing that an issue be remanded for further administrative hearings constituted a ruling "on the merits" which would entitle the complaining party to an award of attorneys' fees under 12-348(A)(2). 193 Ariz. at 182, P 1, 971 P.2d at 1043.
The court of appeals correctly held that such court action was procedural in nature, and did not at that point in the litigation constitute an "adjudication on the merits," as required by the statute.
The Court noted that:
It is generally held that where the word "merits" is used when referring to a case having been determined on the merits, "it embraces a consideration of substance, not of form; of legal rights, not of mere defects of procedure or practice or the technicalities thereof." Cero Realty Corp. v. American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co., 171 Ohio St. 82, 167 N.E.2d 774 (Ohio 1960); see also, Fairmont Aluminum Co. v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 222 F.2d 622, 625 (4th Cir. 1955) ("A judgment on the merits is one which is based on legal rights as distinguished from mere matters of practice, procedure, jurisdiction or form."). Id. at 183-84, P 15, 971 P.2d at 1044-45.