Westinghouse Electric Supply Co. v. Western Seed Production Corp

In Westinghouse Electric Supply Co. v. Western Seed Production Corp., 119 Ariz. 377, 580 P.2d 1231 (App. 1978) the parties had provided a joint statement of facts to support their cross-motions for summary judgment, and the trial court had entered judgment in favor of the lease holder, Western Seed, denying the validity of Westinghouse's lien on the property. Westinghouse, 119 Ariz. at 378, 580 P.2d at 1232. Applying the stranger-to-the-transaction standard on appeal, the Court held Westinghouse's description of the property was sufficient as a matter of law to perfect a valid lien, and we reversed the trial court's ruling, directing it to proceed with the foreclosure. Id. at 380-81, 580 P.2d at 1234-35. The Westinghouse standard reflects this burden by requiring that a description apprise "a stranger to the . . . transaction" of the property to which any lien will attach. 119 Ariz. at 379, 580 P.2d at 1233. "'The notice must be sufficient in itself to identify the property . . . and . . . outside evidence . . . cannot be received to supply a deficiency in that regard.'" Id. at 380, 580 P.2d at 1234. Westinghouse thus illustrates that because the sufficiency of a description is measured by an objective standard that looks to the notice itself, trial courts may draw a legal conclusion on this issue on a motion for summary judgment. The Court held that "the test to be applied is whether a stranger to the underlying transaction, based upon the description contained in the notice and claim of lien and his or her general knowledge of the area, could ascertain the property to which the lien attached." Id. at 379, 580 P.2d at 1233. Westinghouse specifically addressed the description requirement of former 33-993 and did not prescribe a standard for the subsequently enacted 33-992.01(C). 119 Ariz. at 379, 580 P.2d at 1233.