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Margrave Celmins, P.C. Quarterly Newsletter

     The Conference Room  |  June 2015 Edition

Biosphere 2 is an Earth systems science research facility owned by the University of Arizona since 2011

How fortunate we’ve been that Spring decided to hang around longer than usual.

We hope you’ve enjoyed opportunities of obtaining tickets to various concert and sporting events in our theater box at the US Airways Center. These offers are for two tickets, with complimentary food and drink, as well as parking.  Upcoming events include the Phoenix Mercury women’s basketball games and concerts by Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and Imagine Dragons.  Watch for future announcements. And if anyone happens to take a photo in our box with the event in the background, we’d be happy to run it here in our newsletter.

We recently made available several brochures to provide you with basic knowledge on a variety of subjects. Shortly, we will make available five new brochures in e-format as well as printed form; all you have to do is contact me at pcopeland@mclawfirm.com and let me know what version you desire.  These additional subjects include “Have You Been Sued in Another State?” explaining whether or not you might be subject to personal jurisdiction; “Are You Covered?” about how to protect against uninsured and underinsured drivers; “Use of Split Trust vs. Single Trust” regarding married couples’ estate planning tactics; “Transferring Ownership of the Family Business” discussing a few of the issues that might arise; and “Condo Owners’ Bill of Rights.” If you have suggestions for a brochure, our newsletter or the website, I’d love to hear from you.  Meanwhile, enjoy our latest newsletter and the continued Spring weather.

Please continue to check out our website at http://mclawfirm.com where we update our “News/Blog” information regularly, and a click on that tab will give you a choice of Articles, Blog, News and Newsletters.  All are by most recent date entry, and blogs are also broken down by practice for your convenience.

Patty Copeland, Editor




We at Margrave Celmins have plenty of canine family members that faithfully wait for us at home. No matter how tough our day at work, we know we can expect a wagging tail, a lick on the face and plenty of affection once home. They are Gracie, Bazil, Tommy, Jasmine, Samantha, Cobie, Lily, Max, Kaya, Roxie, Casey, Greta, Dingo, Shotzie, Cooper and Kal. This article was written by a dog-friendly attorney in a dog-friendly firm.

On The Receiving End

On occasion, Man’s Best Friend can become another man’s nightmare. You are out for a walk in your neighborhood when you are charged by a dog. All you can see is a set of sharp teeth coming at you. He sinks his teeth into your leg, knocks you down and bites you again on your face. After a trip to the emergency room to get stitched up and a few follow-up visits with your doctor, your wounds have healed. Nevertheless, you are left with permanent scars to your face and leg.

You don’t know if this dog had a propensity for viciousness or whether it had a friendly disposition. As far as A.R.S. Section 11-1025 is concerned, it doesn’t matter. According to this statute, the owner of a biting dog is strictly liable for the victim’s injuries regardless of whether the dog had an aggressive history. Thus, no dog gets "one free bite" in Arizona pursuant to this statute.

The liability of an owner extends to a victim who is bitten while in a public place or even on private property, including on the owner’s property, so long as the victim is there lawfully. Clearly, the owner is responsible when you are attacked while out for a walk on a public street. Likewise, if you are invited onto the owner’s property or you are performing your duties as a postal worker or other delivery person, the owner is strictly liable for the biting actions of his dog.   

  A child, bitten by his neighbor’s dog after  climbing a  fence to enter the neighbor’s  yard to retrieve a ball,  was considered a  trespasser and, therefore, not  entitled  to successfully employ this strict liability  statute.  Hartsock v. Bandhouer, 158 Ariz.  591 (1988). In a different factual scenario,  a groomer, bitten while working in a pet  hospital, was considered to be lawfully in a  private place and able to take advantage of the statute. Mulcahy v. Damron, 169 Ariz. 11 (1991).

The sole defense to a strict liability dog bite action is when the victim provoked the dog (A.R.S. Section 11-1027). Provocation might include teasing the dog, taking his toy or food away, hitting or reprimanding him, or unlawfully entering property which confines the dog.  In an unreported appellate case handled by me in 1987, the Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s determination that a young child “going face-to-face and eye-to-eye” with a dog constituted provocation. 
There is a one-year statute of limitations to pursue this strict liability action. If your lawsuit is filed after the one-year deadline but before two years, you must then show that the dog had a propensity for viciousness and that the owner knew about such propensity or should have known about it. Clearly, it is much safer to file suit before the one-year deadline as the victim’s burden of proof is much easier to meet.
Now let’s get back to the injuries you sustained. Your hospital bill wasn’t terribly expensive and your health insurance took care of most of it. You figure your case can’t be worth very much because you had minimal medical treatment. Take a look in the mirror and check out that scar on your face. Also take a look at that ugly jagged scar on your leg next time you decide to wear a pair of shorts. The attorneys at Margrave Celmins work closely with plastic surgeons who consult with our clients and provide valuable narrative reports detailing corrective surgeries and the cost thereof. These reports are worth their weight in gold in your dealings with insurance adjusters, arbitrators and jurors, regardless of whether you get the recommended treatment or not. All of a sudden, you realize that your damages are in fact rather significant.  

On The Giving End

 Say your dog has never bitten anyone. She is sweet and playful, but just happened to get a little overzealous with your neighbor. Again, it doesn’t matter, so long your neighbor is on public property or legally on private property and didn’t provoke your dog. Now what?
Most likely Animal Control will investigate the incident, make sure your dog’s rabies shots are up to date and, if necessary, quarantine your dog. Now it’s time to contact your homeowners insurance carrier. You tell them that your pet,  a Rottweiler, bit your neighbor.  They review your policy and read a clause to you that states, “We will not indemnify you for any injuries to property or person inflicted by a Chow, Akita, Doberman, Pitbull, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, Presa Canarios, Wolf Hybrid or any mix of these.”  You are shocked to realize that you will be paying your neighbor’s substantial personal injury settlement out of your own pocket.  (Information on excluded dog breeds supplied by Jason Arriaga of Arriaga Advisors in Scottsdale, AZ.)
These days, more and more homeowner policies are including exclusions of coverage for one or more of the above-referenced breeds. There are still many policies, however, that have no such exclusions but do either cancel or rate coverage after your dog’s first aggressive incident. Check your policy language now before it’s too late.  And keep Rover under control in public and in the privacy of your home.

Richard K. DePonte



Michael Margrave attended LawPact’s Spring Conference, held in Mexico City in March, which focused on business opportunities in Mexico. The conference was attended by 20 members from twelve states and six countries, including Canada and Spain. Brief introductions of members have expanded into an opportunity for the attorneys to update one another on news about their firms, new initiatives and challenges facing them.

A presentation on the Mexican culture helped members understand business customs and practices as a basis of working with Mexican clients. Rule No. 1: “Maybe” or “perhaps” probably means “no,” and Rule No. 2: that mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow, but probably in the near future.

Further presentations included Mexico as a means of opportunity with a stable financial market and open economy, and international trade and investment commitments. Another focused on The Pacific Alliance, having members in the Pacific Ring of Fire network, with special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific area. 

Tours included the historic center of Mexico City, which the Spaniards began to build in the 16th Century on the ruins of conquered Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire; and to the Xochimilo Canals, left from what was an extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the ancient settlements of the Valley of Mexico. The most common type of boats on the canals are the “trajineras,” which look similar to gondolas, but are modeled after pre-Hispanic vessels. Both the central plaza of Mexico City and the Xochimilo canals are World Heritage Sites.


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Margrave Celmins is a member of LawPact, which is an association of independent, business-oriented law firms in the U.S. and overseas.  Currently there are 52 member firms.  This is a terrific resource for clients who have legal matters in other states and abroad.  There are 26 states and 17 countries represented by member firms throughout Europe and Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, as well as India..
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