Covert v. Randles

Covert v. Randles, 53 Ariz. 225, 87 P.2d 488, 490 (Ariz. 1939), involved a dispute over a contingency fee contract that provided the attorneys would receive "8% of the amount recovered up to the sum of $ 20,000.00, and 5% of the balance recovered." The Supreme Court of Arizona observed that "the word 'recover' when employed in statutes and in contracts as a basis for calculating a fee or percentage has attained a well-defined meaning." Id. The Court further observed that "recover" can have a meaning in either a "Broad General Sense" or a "Narrower Legal Sense." Id. The Arizona Supreme Court stated that the meaning of recover in the "Broad General Sense" is "to collect; to come into possession of; to get, obtain, procure, receive, and the like." Id. The Court also noted that the meaning of recover in the "Narrower Legal Sense" is as follows: "Variously defined as to be successful in a suit; to collect or obtain the amount, possibly by a suit at law; to have judgment; to obtain a favorable or final judgment; to obtain by course of law; to obtain by judicial action or proceeding, or in any legal manner; to obtain by means of an action, in contrast to voluntary payment; to obtain title to by final decree or judgment in a court of law; to succeed in an action, or in a law suit; and in this legal sense, it has been held not to include necessarily, or even ordinarily, the actual payment of the money sued for." In Covert, the Arizona Supreme Court concluded that a fair and reasonable construction of the language of the contract at issue, in light of the object of the attorneys' services, revealed that the parties used "recovered" in the "Broad General Sense" to mean "collect." The Court stated: "The intent of the parties governs and if it appears from the contract that the parties intended that the word 'recover,' as used therein, should mean the same as 'to collect, ' 'to come into possession of,' 'to get,' etc., we should so construe it." 87 P.2d at 490.