Arizona’s Best Lawyers:Tucson’s ‘Mick’ Rusing

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Is Always Looking for a Challenge

With clients ranging from a game and fish department, to a university athletic department, to a law school, Michael J.S. ‘Mick’ Rusing hasn’t met a case he was scared to try.

In fact, it’s the wide range and breadth of cases handled by Rusing & Lopez, PLLC that set it apart from other firms. The firm has handled issues ranging from environmental cases to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases to products-liability cases to wage cases.

One of Rusing’s recent cases illustrates how litigationcan be done fairly quickly and relatively efficiently, if needed. The case involved the unsuccessful bidder in a $240 million design, build and operate contract for a sewage treatment plant in Tucson.

A panel graded bidders in a series of categories, in addition to evaluating the bids themselves, in order to determine a score for each bidder. The winning bidder, Rusing’s client, outscored the runner-up by a close margin. The unsuccessful bidder was unhappy and filed a bid contest, alleging various grounds that evolved over time.

After initially raising some grounds of collusion or noncompliance, ultimately the focus of what became the litigation on the injunction was whether or not Rusing’s client’s successful bid was responsive to the bid request. The argument was that the Rusing’s client was not responsive to one particular aspect of the bid proposal.

“It was specifically in regards to whether or not these wage treatment system proposed was a five-stage Bardenpho process,” Rusing explains.

The trial was set for 30 days later. Rusing and his team had less than a month to master the legal requirements for a bid protest. Rusing’s client—his only witness—was out ofthe country during the weeks of preparation time, and could only fly into town the day before testimony was scheduled to begin.

“In the meantime, the county, the unsuccessful bidder, and my client had to get together, and arrange, organize, and take the depositions of about six different experts from all over the world and a couple of lay people in preparation of a three-day trial,” says Rusing, who had to learn the procedural and substance law on the matter, in addition toa crash course in sewage treatment.

“The experts were all gathered in this court room in Pima County talking about what a five-stage Bardenpho was and about the critical components of it,” Rusing says.“Soon the other side decided they couldn’t even appeal, and case was gone. It was a $240 million case that the otherside wanted very badly.”

While the sewage case lasted only weeks, some cases can take years to litigate, such as adivorce case Rusing became involved with in 1995.

A retired law professor and his wife were getting a divorce, and one of the couple’s community assets was a significant holding in the man’s teacher retirement account. Rusing represented, and continues to represent, the retirement plan provider for teachers. When the court awarded the woman the assets, the retirement plan made the distribution.

The man filed an appeal to the Arizona Supreme Courtthat dropped it, and filed two federal district court actions in Tucson, which were ultimately dismissed. At the time, Rusing thought he had heard the last of the husband. Nine years later, Rusing received a letter from the in-house counsel for the retirement plan provider.

“In the ensuing years, unbeknownst to me, the man had had filed a federal district court action in Ohio, two federal district court actions in Tennessee, had appealed some rulings from the Tennessee Federal Court to a six-circuit court of appeals, which ultimately decided to send him back to Tucson where the man filed two new federal cases in 2005,” Rusing says. “In the interim, the ex-wife had actually died, and both of those cases were dismissed.

Rusing and his team went to the Arizona Ninth Circuiton the rulings in their favor and the court upheld some, but reversed another.

“They came back down now. We’ve won again on some re-judgments and now we are back up at the Ninth Circuit,” Rusing says. “We’re closing in on 20 years of litigation in this case, which has been up to two different Federal Circuit Courts. It has been the subject of seven different federal district court actions.”

Rusing says that the common thread among all of his cases is that they are all interesting.

“I’m unafraid to venture to a topic outside my field,” he says. “Our firm looks for a challenge.”

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–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:33+00:00 July 20th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Samples|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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