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Waste Management of Nevada, Inc. v. West Taylor Street, LLC

Supreme Court of Nevada

June 27, 2019

WASTE MANAGEMENT OF NEVADA, INC., Appellant,
v.
WEST TAYLOR STREET, LLC, A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY, Respondent.

          Appeal from a final judgment in a declaratory relief action. Second Judicial District Court, Washoe County; Connie J. Steinheimer, Judge.

          Simons Law, PC, and Mark G. Simons, Reno, for Appellant.

          C. Nicholas Pereos, Ltd., and C. Nicholas Pereos, Reno, for Respondent.

          Peterson Baker, PLLC, and Tamara Beatty Peterson and Nikki L. Baker, Las Vegas, for Amicus Curiae.

         BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.

          OPINION

          GIBBONS, C.J.

         In 2005, the Nevada Legislature enacted the garbage lien statute to give waste collection companies a method for collecting delinquent payments for their services. See NRS 444.520. For the first time, we are asked to interpret this statute and the procedures required to perfect and foreclose on a garbage lien. This dispute focuses on whether NRS 444.520(3)'s reference to the mechanics' lien statute incorporates only the mechanics' lien statute's procedural requirements for foreclosure, as set forth in NRS 108.239. Or, rather, if that reference to the mechanics' lien statute also incorporates the requirements for perfecting a lien, as set forth in NRS 108.226. Additionally, we are asked to determine if the perpetual nature of the garbage lien means that the foreclosure of a garbage lien is not subject to a statute of limitations. We hold that the reference to the mechanics' lien statute in NRS 444.520(3) incorporates only the mechanics' lien statute's procedural requirements for foreclosure. We also hold that no limitations period applies to the foreclosure of a garbage lien.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Respondent West Taylor Street, LLC, is the owner of a duplex in Reno. This duplex has two addresses, and each address has a waste service account with appellant Waste Management of Nevada, Inc. At some point, both of these waste services accounts became delinquent. As a result, Waste Management filed three notices of liens against the property. West Taylor filed a complaint with the district court asking, among other things, for declaratory relief. West Taylor alleged that Waste Management did not properly follow the lien perfection requirements under NRS 108.226, which West Taylor argued the Legislature incorporated by reference into the garbage lien statute. West Taylor filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to this issue. The district court granted West Taylor's motion for summary judgment, holding that the hen perfection requirements outlined in NRS 108.226 applied to the garbage lien statute. Therefore, the district court held that Waste Management did not properly record the lien because it failed to record it within 90 days of the completion of the work. The district court also held, in the alternative, that Waste Management could no longer foreclose on its liens because a two-year limitations period applied to the foreclosing on garbage liens. As a result of this ruling, Waste Management voluntarily released all three of its liens against the property. The parties proceeded to litigate other claims, until West Taylor voluntarily dismissed those claims. Waste Management now challenges the grant of summary judgment in West Taylor's favor as to the recordation of the liens.

         DISCUSSION

         This case is not moot

         As an initial matter, we address West Taylor's argument that this matter is moot because Waste Management released the three liens. As a general rule, this court will decline to hear any case in which there is no actual controversy. Univ. & Cmty. Coll. Sys. of Nev. v. Nevadans for Sound Gov't, 120 Nev. 712, 720, 100 P.3d 179, 186 (2004) ("[T]he duty of every judicial tribunal is to decide actual controversies by a judgment which can be carried into effect, and not to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles of law which cannot affect the matter in issue before it." (internal quotation marks omitted)). Therefore, if a case comes before this court when there is no actual controversy, even if the case had a live controversy at the outset, then we will dismiss the case as moot. Personhood Nev. v. Bristol, 126 Nev. 599, 602, 245 P.3d 572, 574 (2010) (holding that a case has to have an actual controversy during "all stages of the proceeding" or it would be dismissed as moot). Because the district court's order granting summary judgment prevents Waste Management from refiling its garbage liens against West Taylor, we conclude that there is still a live controversy, and the case is not moot.

         The plain language of NRS 444.520(3) incorporates only the foreclosure procedures from the mechanics' lien statutes

         We review questions of statutory construction de novo. Tarn v. Eighth Judicial Dist Court,131 Nev. 792, 799, 358 P.3d 234, 240 (2015). "If the plain meaning of a statute is clear on its face, then [this court] will not go beyond the language of the statute to determine its meaning." Beazer Homes Nev., Inc. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court,120 Nev. 575, 579-80, 97 P.3d 1132, 1135 (2004) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alterations in original). When a statute is clear on its face, this court gives the statute's plain language its "ordinary meaning." UMC Physicians' Bargaining Unit of Nev. Serv. Emps. Union v. Nev. Serv. Emps. Union ISEIU Local 1107,124 Nev. 84, 88, 178 P.3d 709, 712 (2008). If a statute is ambiguous, meaning that it is ...


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