Michelle Ronan - Associate

Michelle Ronan is an Associate in Tyson & Mendes’ Phoenix office. Her practice focuses primarily on general liability, insurance coverage, and bad faith litigation. Ms. Ronan has extensive experience defending individuals, contractors, and businesses in tort and construction litigation.

Ms. Ronan has successfully resolved a variety of cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, premises liability, construction defect, and professional liability. She obtained partial summary judgment on behalf of a roofing subcontractor sued for breach of warranty, disposing of approximately $765,000 of a $1.1 million claim. Ms. Ronan also obtained a defense award in a car accident case where plaintiff’s alleged damages exceeded policy limits. In a property dispute, Ms. Ronan obtained a dismissal of all claims asserted against her client and an award of $44,000 in damages. As the prevailing party, she was also awarded over $88,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Ms. Ronan earned her B.S., magna cum laude, in 2007 from Arizona State University and her J.D. from the University of Arizona College of Law in 2011. During her time in law school, she was Vice President of Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity and an active member of the Volunteer Lawyer’s Program, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Law Women’s Association. Ms. Ronan is currently a member of the Arizona Association of Defense Counsel and Maricopa County Bar Association.

When Ms. Ronan is not in the office, she enjoys spending time outdoors, playing with her dogs, and relaxing with her family.

Recent Posts

Independent Contractors or Employees? A Case Study of Arizona Law Applied to Taxi Drivers

Danial v. Industrial Commission, et al.,  No. 1 CA-IC 17-0068 (January 15, 2019)

Factual Background

AAA Cab Services (“AAA”) is one of the three taxicab companies licensed to operate at Sky Harbor International Airport (“the Airport”) by the City of Phoenix.  Kardakh Danial was a taxi driver for AAA. In May 2016, Danial was injured while driving airport passengers in an AAA leased taxicab and he requested workers’ compensation benefits from AAA’s insurer. The insurer denied Danial’s request for benefits and Danial filed a claim with the Industrial Commission of Arizona.

Arizona Case Law Update

Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued several decisions of interest to insurance companies and those litigating in Arizona state court.

Industrial Commission of Arizona – Special Action

Aguirre v. The Industrial Commission of Arizona, et. al., No. 1 CA-IC 17-0017 (December 4, 2018)

Gilbert Aguirre, Jr. was a firefighter for the City of Goodyear. As part of his annual employment physical, he received a blood test which came back abnormal. Soon after, he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia. Aguirre filed a workers’ compensation claim which was denied by CopperPoint American Insurance Company (“CopperPoint”). Aguirre requested a hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Aguirre and two physicians testified at the hearing. Following the hearing, the parties filed simultaneous post-hearing memorandum. The ALJ stated he was more persuaded by CopperPoint’s memorandum and concluded Aguirre “failed to carry his burden of proving by a reasonable preponderance of the evidence that he sustained a work related injury on May 14, 2015.”  Aguirre appealed.

Rattled by the Law: A Look at Arizona’s Premises Liability Law

Anderson, et. al v. Esbacrosa, Inc., No. 2 CA-CV 2018-0057 (October 24, 2018) – Memorandum Decision

Kristopher and Angelique Anderson took their son, Cooper Anderson (collectively “Andersons”) to Colossal Cave Mountain Park (“Park”) operated by Escabrosa, Inc.. The reception area to the Park serves as the entrance for cave tours. A half wall separates the reception area from the open desert and a rock formation is located within the walls of the reception area. While visiting the park, Cooper Anderson was bitten by a juvenile rattlesnake hiding within the rock formation. The Andersons sued Escabrosa under a negligence cause of action for allowing on its property “an unreasonably dangerous condition that it knew of or should have known of: a juvenile rattlesnake.”

Arizona Case Law Update

Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued several decisions of interest to insurance companies and those litigating in Arizona state court.

“Relative Resident” Policy Interpretation

Allstate Vehicle and Property Ins. Co. v. Sela Maile, No. 1 CA0CV 17-0723 (Ariz. App. October 18, 2018) – Memorandum Decision

Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company (“Allstate”) insured a home owned by Amelia Maile. The home caught fire on August 19, 2014. Amelia’s son, Benjamin, lived in the home with his wife, Sela, and their son, Sevod. Benjamin suffered severe injuries from the fire and died. In March 2016, Sela demanded coverage under the policy for claims relating to bodily injuries she suffered in the fire and for Benjamin’s wrongful death. Allstate filed a declaratory relief action alleging it had no duty to defend or indemnify either Amelia or Samisoni, Amelia’s son, against Sela’s claims. Neither Amelia nor Samisoni responded and the court entered default on August 30, 2016. Allstate then moved for summary judgment to preclude Sela from pursuing coverage under the policy. Allstate also asserted the policy did not provide coverage because Sela and Sevod were “resident relatives” of Amelia at the time of the fire.

Can a Police Officer be Found Negligent for Intentional Conduct in Arizona?

In Ryan v. Napier, No. CV-17-0325-PR (August 23, 2018), the Supreme Court of Arizona evaluated whether a claimant can assert a negligence claim based solely on an officer’s intentional use of physical force.

Plaintiff Brian McDonald was driving his car in Tucson, Arizona at night when he swerved into oncoming traffic, nearly colliding with a police patrol vehicle. The police officer, Deputy Matthew Dixon, gave chase and called for assistance. McDonald pulled over before hitting strategically placed traffic spikes. Dixon demanded McDonald show his hands and throw the car keys through the window. McDonald did not respond. Deputy Joseph Klein and his police dog, Barry, arrived at the scene. Klein warned McDonald the dog would be unleashed unless McDonald started talking. McDonald rolled up his windows and drove towards the spikes. Deputies again gave chase. McDonald drove over the spikes, hopped a curb and stopped. McDonald exited the vehicle and walked around the back toward the passenger’s side. When McDonald reached the passenger’s side of the vehicle, he stopped and put his hands on the roof of the car. The instant before McDonald’s hands hit the roof of the car, Klein intentionally released Barry. Barry bit McDonald’s leg and held onto it between 25 and 38 seconds until Klein ordered the dog to release. McDonald suffered severe injuries.

The Ban on Balance Billing: Federal Law Preempts Arizona Statute Allowing Hospitals to Collect Fees Above What They Accepted as Payment in Full

The Arizona Court of Appeals recently considered whether hospitals could enforce liens on patients’ tort recoveries for the balance between what Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (“ AHCCCS”) paid and the hospitals’ customary charges after the hospital accepted payment “in full” from AHCCCS.

Banner Health Network and several other hospitals (the “Hospitals”) contracted with AHCCCS to serve AHCCCS members. The plaintiffs were a class of AHCCCS members who received settlements or damage awards from third-party tortfeasors for the injuries that required medical treatment (the “Patients”).   The Patients sued to enjoin the Hospitals from enforcing liens on their tort recoveries for the balance between what AHCCCS paid and the Hospitals’ customary charges.

Arizona Case Law Update

Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued several decisions of interest providing guidance to insurance companies and insurance defense attorney’s litigating in Arizona state court.

Preliminary Expert Opinion Affidavits.

Muniz v. Anderson, et al., 1 CA-CV 17-0146 (Ariz. App. February 15, 2018) – Memorandum Decision

Jesus Muniz filed a medical malpractice claim against Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc. (“CHC”), alleging its nurse was negligent in administering Muniz an improper dose of insulin. Muniz asserted expert testimony was not required to prove his negligence claim. CHC moved for an order compelling Muniz to serve a preliminary expert opinion affidavit in compliance with A.R.S. §12-2603(B). Muniz then served a preliminary expert opinion affidavit stating his own experience taking insulin qualified him to be his own expert witness. CHC moved to dismiss Muniz’s claim for failure to comply with A.R.S. §12-2603(B). Muniz sought additional time to cure the deficiencies and obtain a new preliminary expert affidavit. The trial court denied Muniz’s request for additional time and granted CHC’s motion to dismiss. Muniz appealed.

Arizona Case Law Update

Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued several decisions of interest to insurance companies litigating in Arizona Superior Court.   

Motions to Amend and Expert Testimony

Boland v. Discount Tire Co., Inc., et al., 1 CA-CV 16-0370 (Ariz. App. December 21, 2017) – Memorandum Decision

In May 2010, Plaintiff Berna Boland was driving a 2003 Mazda B3000 when her right rear tire failed, causing a blowout due to a tread puncture. Boland lost control and suffered serious injuries as the vehicle rolled and crashed on the pavement. Boland purchased the tires from Discount Tire on February 14, 2009 and drove approximately 12,500 miles between the date of purchase and the accident.

Recent Arizona Opinion Preserves Limitations of Non-Delegable Duty for Landowners

The Arizona Court of Appeals, Division Two recently issued an opinion evaluating the scope of the non-delegable duty in Arizona. In Vanoss v. BHP Copper, Inc., No. 2 CA-CV 2017-0033 (Ariz. App. January 8, 2018), plaintiffs (“appellants”)  in a wrongful death action arising out of the death of Jon Pierre Vanoss appeal from the trial court’s judgment in favor of defendant BHP Copper, Inc. (“BHP”). Appellants contend the trial court made a host of errors including granting partial summary judgment in favor of BHP regarding whether BHP owed a non-delegable duty to Vanoss pursuant to certain statutes and regulations.

Think Twice Before Hiring an Out-of-State Engineer

For years, there has been a question about whether out-of-state engineers must be registered with the Board before providing forensic services in Arizona. The Arizona Board of Technical Registration (“Board”) recently issued a substantive policy statement interpreting the existing definition of “Engineering Practice” to include engineers acting as an expert witness within the meaning of Rule 702, Ariz.R.Evid. Although not a substantive policy change, the Board’s advisory statement should make attorneys and their clients think twice before hiring out-of-state engineers to serve as expert witnesses.

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