GENEVA M. SIMMONS, INDIVIDUALLY, Appellant,
JESUS MANUEL BRIONES, Respondent.
from a district court order denying a petition for judicial
review of an administrative agency determination refusing to
suspend a driver's license for failure to pay a judgment.
Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Rob Bare,
Kennedy and Sarah E. Harmon, Dennis L. Kennedy, and Amanda L.
Stevens, Las Vegas; GEICO Staff Counsel and Eric A. Daly,
Henderson, for Appellant.
W. Marcek, P.C., and Cliff W. Marcek, Las Vegas, for
& Springberg, P.C., and Andrew Thomas, Las Vegas, for
Amicus Curiae Nevada Justice Association.
HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and PICKERING, JJ.
appeal, we are asked to determine whether a judgment for
attorney fees and costs against an insured driver in an
action that arises out of a motor vehicle accident is a
"judgment" for purposes of the NRS Chapter
nonpayment of judgment statutes. Although respondent
successfully sued appellant for damages arising out of a
motor vehicle accident, he failed during a trial de novo to
obtain an award that sufficiently surpassed the amount of
damages that he was previously awarded in arbitration; as a
result, appellant's attorney fees and costs were assessed
against him. We are now asked to determine whether the
judgment for these penalty attorney fees and costs
constitutes a "judgment... upon a cause of action"
arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, such that its
nonpayment may result in the suspension of driving privileges
under NRS 485.302. We conclude that it does not and we thus
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 2010, appellant Geneva Simmons and respondent Jesus
Manuel Briones were involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Briones filed a complaint against Simmons as a result,
asserting negligence and claiming personal injury and
property damages. The action was diverted to the mandatory
court-annexed arbitration program. The arbitrator found in
favor of Briones but reduced Briones' damages award by
half, finding Briones 50 percent negligent. Briones requested
a trial de novo.
case was placed in the short trial program, where a jury
found in favor of Briones and awarded him damages. The jury
also found Briones 50 percent negligent, and his award was
reduced by half. Because Briones' award failed to exceed
the arbitration award by 20 percent, Briones was liable for
Simmons' attorney fees and costs under NAR 20(B)(2)(a)
(providing that when "the party requesting the trial de
novo fails to obtain a judgment that exceeds the arbitration
award by at least 20 percent of the award, the non-requesting
party is entitled to its attorney's fees and costs
associated with the proceedings following the request for
trial de novo").
short trial judge offset the damages and attorney fees and
costs awards and entered a net judgment in favor of Simmons
(the Simmons Judgment). After Briones failed to pay the
judgment, Simmons notified the Nevada Department of Motor
Vehicles (DMV) and requested that Briones' driving
privileges be suspended until the judgment was satisfied
pursuant to NRS 485.302. The DMV suspended Briones'
then requested an administrative hearing to contest the
suspension, arguing that NRS 485.302 did not apply because he
was never an uninsured driver and the Simmons Judgment was
not for personal injury or property damages. The
administrative law judge (ALJ) agreed and dismissed and
rescinded the suspension. Simmons then filed a petition for
judicial review of the decision. The district court denied
the petition, agreeing with the ALJ that NRS 485.302 did not
pertain to judgments against insured drivers for attorney
fees and costs. Simmons appeals, arguing that Briones'
driving privileges should have remained suspended because a
judgment for attorney fees and costs is within the scope of
reviewing a district court's denial of a petition for
judicial review of an agency decision, this court engages in
the same analysis as the district court." Rio All
Suite Hotel & Casino v. Phillips,126 Nev. 346, 349,
240 P.3d 2, 4 (2010). Specifically, we "review the
evidence presented to the agency in order to determine
whether the agency's decision was arbitrary or capricious
and was thus an abuse of the agency's discretion."
United Exposition Serv. Co. v. State Indus. Ins.
Sys.,109 Nev. 421, 423, 851 P.2d 423, 424 (1993).
However, issues of statutory construction are ...