Phoenix, Ariz.—Today, Judge Connie Contes of the Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by engineer Greg Mills and his company, Southwest Engineering Concepts (SOENCO), over Arizona’s statutes governing engineering practice. The court ruled Greg was not yet allowed to sue the Board of Technical Registration, the agency that enforces these statutes, notwithstanding the Board’s repeated threats to fine Greg and prohibit his speech and work. Following today’s decision, the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit public interest law firm that represents Greg, announced that it will be appealing the ruling.
Greg has spent his entire career working as an engineer designing and building electronics for a broad array of products. Greg has worked on everything from flashlights to satellites. After years of climbing the ranks within Phoenix-area tech and aerospace companies, Greg started SOENCO so he could work with startups and small businesses to help get their new electronic product ideas from concept to prototype.
Greg never needed to be licensed as a “professional engineer” to do his work. Indeed, 80% of all engineers in America today do not need to be licensed as professional engineers to do their work. For 12 years, Greg worked at SOENCO without any issues. But last year the Board began to threaten Greg. They sent him a proposed “Consent Agreement” that fined him $3000 and prohibited him from calling himself an engineer or continuing to work at SOENCO. When Greg refused to consent, the Board voted to double his fine.
In today’s ruling, the court dismissed Greg’s lawsuit “in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim due to lack of standing and/or ripeness.” That means the court ruled that because Greg has not yet been shut down, he has to wait for the Board to finish its administrative process before he can defend his constitutional rights.
“The Arizona Constitution and statutes protect Greg’s right to go to court now to protect his constitutional rights that are being threatened today,” said IJ-AZ Managing Attorney Paul Avelar. “Greg’s rights to speak, to earn an honest living, and to not be fined, cannot be determined by the Board, which serves as both the prosecutor and judge. That is why we are appealing this decision.”