The Arizona Court of Appeals Division One filed a decision in Woestman v. Hon. Russell/Bryan et al. on July 28, 2015. The issue on Petition for Special Action was whether an Arizona trial court acted properly when appointing a conservator for a mentally ill homeless man who is a plaintiff in a personal injury matter.
Michael Woestman struck the homeless man with his car in November 2012. The homeless man retained an attorney to sue Mr. Woestman for personal injury. Later, the homeless man’s attorney successfully moved the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for his client. Over time the GAL could not locate his ward and moved the court to appoint a conservator for him. Mr. Woestman opposed this motion. The GAL claimed that Mr. Woestman had no standing to object.
The court appointed a conservator for the mentally ill homeless man because he had no home state and he had a significant connection to Arizona resulting from the auto accident and the ensuing lawsuit, he had disappeared from the state during September 2013 after recovering from his injuries, and he was unable to manage his estate and affairs due to his disappearance. A.R.S. § 14-12201(A)(2) and (A)(3).
Mr. Woestman challenged the trial court’s appointment of the conservator in a Petition for Special Action. The Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction, denied the relief requested and upheld the appointment because of the homeless man’s significant connection to Arizona, disappearance from the state and the need to preserve the homeless man’s property until he could be located.