Clients rely on Mike’s advocacy and judgment to handle high-stakes arbitrations and litigation, and to negotiate settlements of complex disputes.
Focused on complex litigation and arbitration, Mike has successfully handled billion-dollar contract disputes and many high-stakes cases involving claims of insurance coverage and bad faith, business torts, defamation, securities fraud, legal malpractice, and director and officer liability. In addition to his business litigation practice, he has successfully defended many wrongful-death and serious personal-injury suits. Mike has won jury trials in multiple jurisdictions, and has successfully argued appeals in several appellate courts.
Mike’s substantial insurance practice focuses on litigating and arbitrating for state and city governments, self-insurers, policyholders, brokers, and life insurers. He regularly advises on and litigates coverage issues, policy claims, and bad-faith claims involving government liability insurance, general liability insurance, additional insured coverage, professional liability coverage, theft and government crime insurance, and life insurance.
Clients also call on Mike to negotiate settlements of complex cases that other lawyers are litigating.
Mike served as lead counsel for the State of Arizona in a multi-year 46-state nationwide arbitration against the major cigarette manufacturers regarding a $1.1 billion payment dispute under the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.
He served as the lead negotiator for 24 states in the settlement of $7 billion of payment disputes with the cigarette manufacturers, and handled all arguments for those states in defeating other states’ challenges to the settlement. Following the denial of those challenges, an additional 11 states joined the settlement.
Mike was hired as new counsel to obtain post-trial relief following an adverse verdict of $45 million. He convinced the trial court to grant a new trial on damages. He then handled the appeal where he obtained an order affirming the grant of new trial on damages and reversing the liability portion of the judgment against his client on all claims for which liability was not stipulated.
Mike defended the then-presiding judge of the Arizona Superior Court (Maricopa County) in a civil racketeering suit filed by the self-proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff in America" Joe Arpaio and the then-county attorney. The suit was dismissed.
As co-counsel with the Arizona Attorney General, Mike obtained the dismissal of a putative class action brought against the State of Arizona on behalf of hundreds of companies and persons whose business and properties were allegedly destroyed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in which 19 firefighters died. Dismissal was affirmed on appeal. Acri v. State, 242 Ariz. 325 (App. 2017).
As co-counsel with the Arizona Attorney General, Mike negotiated the settlement of the wrongful-death suits brought by surviving spouses of the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.
Mike successfully defended an insurance bad-faith suit arising out of a $60 million verdict.
He served as insurance coverage counsel for a plaintiff in the recovery of $12 million from insurers for property damage.
He defeated a series of related tortious interference and defamation suits in which the plaintiff had demanded $30 million to settle.
Mike successfully defended a bid-protest action involving the award of a $1 billion public contract.
News & Insights
- Press Release08.17.2023
- Press Release08.18.2022
- Press Release08.19.2021
- Press Release08.20.2020
Selected by Southwest Super Lawyers© for Business Litigation, 2007 - 2019
Listed in the 2010-2024 editions of The Best Lawyers in America© for Commercial Litigation and Insurance Law
Professional & Civic Activities
Professional & Civic Activities
American Bar Association, Securities and Tort and Insurance Section
Herberger Theater Center, Board of Directors
Practices & Industries
- Arizona, 1994
- Missouri, 1982 (inactive)
- U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits
University of Missouri-Columbia, J.D., 1982
University of Missouri-Columbia, A.B., Speech Communication, 1979