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Remarks by Donald Tamaki in Tribute to Mayor Ed Lee

Remarks by Donald Tamaki in Tribute to Mayor Ed Lee

Partner Donald Tamaki paid tribute to the late Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, at the Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus annual dinner on April 27, 2018.

Dear Anita, Tania, Brianna, Friends: Much has been said about Ed as a loving husband, and father, and as one of the City’s great and historically significant Mayors.

But I don’t think that even the staff of the Asian Law Caucus knows that for 13 years while Ed worked there, he played a crucial role in developing the organizing strategies that the Caucus has used for the past 40 years.

Even in law school Ed understood the limits of the legal system in effectuating change in Chinatown which had one of highest concentrations of poverty in the City, the highest population density, the highest rates of TB–where sweatshop and restaurant workers were paid far less than minimum wage.

You know–a legal challenge has a beginning and an end–and when the case is over, you hope that your client is in a better place–but that’s usually the end of it. Moreover, most of the root problems of the poor and powerless–are not redressable in court—they are instead the result of political, social, and economic inequities. The fact that City Hall used to ignore Chinatown was not a “legal” problem.

Ed knew how much more effective the Caucus would be if it combined its legal advocacy with community organizing such that when the legal case is over,  there is a tenants’ union, a labor union, community institutions in place that will continue fighting to level the playing field, not only in the courts, but in every other arena that matters–transforming the struggle for justice from a singular legal complaint to a social movement that ultimately changes hearts and minds and shifts the balance of power and policy.

Ed pioneered combining aggressive legal advocacy with community organizing, an approach that continues to this day at the ALC. So while we laud this man’s tremendous accomplishments, let it be remembered that the legacy that Ed left behind with the Caucus and with this City is more about the future than it is the past.

By shining a light and reflecting upon Ed’s unflagging commitment to serve, it also lights the way forward—not only for the Asian Law Caucus—but for anyone who loves justice.

Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Your Facebook Data? Here’s How You Can Find Out.

Did Cambridge Analytica Steal Your Facebook Data? Here’s How You Can Find Out.

Minami Tamaki LLP announced earlier this month that it was investigating allegations that Cambridge Analytica improperly acquired private information from tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

In response to public outcry regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook posted information on users’ news feeds notifying users of whether their personal data was accessed.

Facebook users can also check whether their personal data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica by visiting this Facebook page.  

Users who visit this support page while logged in to Facebook will receive a message regarding whether their personal information was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica continue to face scrutiny in the wake of this data exposure.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called to Capitol Hill to testify in front of Congress regarding Cambridge Analytica, privacy practices, and government regulation.

If your personal data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica and you wish to discuss your legal options, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Family of Driver Killed from Tesla Car Crash Hires Minami Tamaki LLP to Explore Legal Options

Family of Driver Killed from Tesla Car Crash Hires Minami Tamaki LLP to Explore Legal Options

The family of Walter Huang, who died March 23, 2018, in a Tesla car crash, has hired the Minami Tamaki LLP law firm to explore legal options for them.

Huang died from fatal injuries suffered when the “Autopilot” of his 2017 Tesla Model X drove his car into the unprotected edge of a concrete highway median that was missing its crash guard.

The firm’s preliminary review has uncovered complaints by other Tesla drivers of navigational errors by the Autopilot feature, and other lawsuits have also made this complaint. The firm believes Tesla’s Autopilot feature is defective and likely caused Huang’s death, despite Tesla’s apparent attempt to blame the victim of this terrible tragedy.

The Huang family intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla and, possibly, its subcontractors involved in the design and construction of the Autopilot system. The grounds for the suit may include product liability, defective product design, failure to warn, breach of warranty, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and false advertising. The family may also file a lawsuit against the California Department of Transportation for dangerous condition of public property.

“Mrs. Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father,” said B. Mark Fong, a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP. “The family wants to investigate this incident and help ensure that this tragedy does not happen to other consumers who buy semi-autonomous vehicles. Our goal as the family’s attorneys is to protect public safety, by ensuring the technology behind semi-autonomous cars is safe before it is released on the roads, and its risks are not misrepresented to the public.”

Minami Tamaki’s preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the car, and drove the car into the median. In addition, the concrete highway median was missing its crash attenuator guard, as Caltrans failed to replace the guard after an earlier crash there. The lack of a guard potentially increased Huang’s injuries.

Huang is survived by his wife of ten years, Sevonne, and their son and daughter, ages 3 and 6. He was a loving father to his children, a devoted husband, and a dedicated son who supported his elderly parents financially.

If you or someone you know has information relating to Tesla’s Autopilot or the incident involving Walter Huang, please contact attorney B. Mark Fong at markfong@minamitamaki.net or at 415-851-1497.

For more information about this case, visit http://minamitamaki.com/huang.



Walter Huang (left) and his wife Sevonne Huang. Walter Huang, of Foster City, Calif., died March 23, 2018, in a Tesla car crash. Huang’s family has hired the Minami Tamaki LLP law firm in San Francisco to explore legal options for them.

Ninth Circuit Rules That Prior Salaries Cannot Justify Gender Pay Gaps

Ninth Circuit Rules That Prior Salaries Cannot Justify Gender Pay Gaps

Today is Equal Pay Day, and it follows yesterday’s decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Rizo v. Yovino, which ruled that employers cannot rely on employees’ past salaries to justify paying women less than men.  

The employee in Rizo was a female math consultant for the Fresno County Office of Education who was paid less than new male hires with less education and experience.  The County’s reasoning was that her pay was based on her prior salary.

Under the federal Equal Pay Act, employers generally cannot pay men and women differently for performing the same work, with certain exceptions.  Previously, the Court’s decisions had held that an employee’s past salary was a “factor other than sex” that employers could use to justify pay gaps between male and female employees.   

The Court’s ruling in Rizo this week overturned those decisions, holding instead that gender wage gaps cannot be justified by an employee’s prior salary alone, or even in combination with other factors.  The majority opinion, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt before his death last month, recognized that the gender wage gap had existed for decades and continues to exist today, with the gap costing women in the U.S. over $840 billion a year.

“If money talks, the message to women costs more than ‘just’ billions: women are told they are not worth as much as men,” wrote Judge Reinhardt. “Allowing prior salary to justify a wage differential perpetuates this message, entrenching in salary systems an obvious means of discrimination.”  Thus, allowing employers to consider prior salaries would be inconsistent with the Equal Pay Act.

At the state level, California’s Equal Pay Act had already prohibited employers from justifying pay differences based on sex, race, or ethnicity solely on the grounds of prior salary.   

Minami Tamaki LLP works to ensure that the rights of all workers are protected and that workers are treated fairly.  Both federal and California law mandate equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. If you believe you have experienced unequal pay or gender discrimination, we welcome the opportunity to discuss your workplace issues with you.  You may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook for Alleged Privacy Violations

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook for Alleged Privacy Violations

News outlets have recently reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm, improperly acquired private information from approximately 50 million Facebook users’ profiles without users’ knowledge or consent.

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating how Facebook users’ private information was used by Cambridge Analytica, and whether Facebook failed to take reasonable measures to secure users’ private information.

The New York Times and The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica acquired this data by partnering with researcher Aleksandr Kogan to create a Facebook application called “Thisisyourdigitallife.” The app administered a “personality” test, and paid U.S. voters who installed the app to answer a series of questions about themselves. Approximately 270,000 individuals installed the app.

Kogan was able to collect data from approximately 50 million Facebook “friends” of these 270,000 individuals, even though these other users had not agreed to connect to the app. Kogan then provided the private information from these users to Cambridge Analytica. The New York Times has reported that Cambridge Analytica used the data to construct psychological profiles of the users and determine messaging to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook knew of Kogan and Cambridge Analytica harvesting information from millions of users as far back as 2015. However, Facebook did not inform users at the time that their information had been accessed in this manner. Facebook has also stated that Kogan gained access to user’s private information “through the proper channels that governed all developers on Facebook at that time.” Facebook noted that Kogan’s sharing of this data with Cambridge Analytica, an unauthorized third party, was prohibited at the time.

Government authorities, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office, and a coalition of state Attorneys General, have reportedly launched investigations into Facebook’s privacy practices.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience representing individuals who have been harmed by privacy breaches. If you believe your private information was gathered by Cambridge Analytica without your knowledge or consent, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

Lisa Mak Honored with AABA’s Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) celebrated its 42nd annual gala on March 22 at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco with more than 800 attorneys, judges, elected officials, and other distinguished guests.

Founded in 1976, AABA is the largest local Asian American bar association in the country, and one of the largest minority bar associations in California. Dale Minami, Partner in our Personal Injury Group, was a co-founder of AABA. Sean Tamura-Sato, a Partner in our Consumer and Employee Rights Group, and Lisa P. Mak, an Associate in the same group, serve on AABA’s board of directors.

Lisa was also honored with this year’s Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy for her advocacy on behalf of employees, including a $3.5 million verdict in 2016 on behalf of four female Sacramento Sheriff’s Department officers, and her commitment to serving the community.

Joe Morozumi was one of the first Asian American trial lawyers in the Bay Area and a role model of zealous advocacy for the poor and the powerless. In 1997, Dale Minami, Mike Lee, and AABA established the Morozumi Award to recognize Asian American attorneys who exemplify his spirit of uncompromising legal advocacy in matters of conscience.

“I am honored to be a part of and a product of this community that supports the advancement of minorities in the legal profession,” Lisa said in her acceptance remarks. “A community where courageous lawyers like Joe … paved the way for advocacy on behalf of those who need support, protection, and a voice.”

The late San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, the city’s first Asian American mayor, posthumously received the AABA Trailblazer Award, which his wife Anita Lee accepted on his behalf. The gala included a moving tribute to Mayor Lee from Donald K. Tamaki, Partner in our Business & Nonprofit Counseling Group; U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen; and Esther Leong, Administrative Director of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Donald K. Tamaki, U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen, Esther Leong of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and AABA President David Tsai pay tribute to the late Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco.

“Ed devoted twelve formative years at the Asian Law Caucus working for almost nothing, representing Chinatown tenants and sweatshop workers, and organizing them to demand their rights,” said Don. “This defining experience shaped his values, served as his moral compass, and informed his decisions as Mayor.”

John So, a 3L student at UC Hastings College of the Law, received this year’s Garrick S. Lew Fellowship through the AABA Law Foundation. The Fellowship is funded through a grant from the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation’s Garrick S. Lew Legacy Fund, and awards $10,000 to a 3L law student committed to a criminal defense practice after graduation. The MTYKL Foundation created this Legacy Fund in conjunction with the Lew family to continue Garrick’s legacy of advocating for our Asian American communities. Garrick, who passed away in 2016, was a former Partner in our firm.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting AABA and its efforts to protect civil rights, engage our community, and increase diversity in the legal profession.

From left to right: Minami Tamaki’s Dale Minami, Lisa Mak, California State Treasurer and candidate for governor John Chiang, and UC Hastings Prof. Eumi Lee (former AABA President).
Minami Tamaki Investigating Malfunction at San Francisco Fertility Clinic

Minami Tamaki Investigating Malfunction at San Francisco Fertility Clinic

The San Francisco law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating local fertility clinic Pacific Fertility Center after it disclosed on March 11, 2018, that it suffered a malfunction in a steel tank where hundreds of patient’s eggs and embryos were stored. The liquid nitrogen failure, which reportedly occurred on March 4, 2018, could endanger the tissue and patients’ chances of having children.

The malfunction was discovered by the clinic’s laboratory director, who noticed that the level of liquid nitrogen in one tank was too low. A lack of liquid nitrogen causes temperatures in tanks to rise, which can cause damage to tissue housed in vials called cryolocks. The clinic reported the incident to the College of American Pathologists, which oversees California’s tissue banks.

The clinic declined to specify the number of eggs and embryos affected, but disclosed several thousand were in the tank. According to reports, the eggs and embryos in the affected tank had been in storage for as long as 10 years. According to Pacific Fertility Center, the extent to which the malfunction damaged eggs and embryos remains unclear.

News of this incident comes on the heels of a similar malfunction the same weekend at University Hospital Fertility Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

These incidents come as a growing number of U.S. women are choosing to freeze their eggs as assisted reproductive technology has advanced. According to Pacific Fertility’s website, egg-freezing starts at $8,345 for the first cycle and $6,995 for subsequent rounds. Thousands of individuals are planning their families based on this technology, and, for some families, the treatment is their only chance at conceiving a child.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience advising individuals regarding laboratory failure at reproductive clinics. If you believe your frozen eggs or embryos were affected by the Pacific Fertility Center malfunction, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Government Agencies Investigating Apple Over iPhone Performance Slowdowns

Government Agencies Investigating Apple Over iPhone Performance Slowdowns

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Apple Inc. about software updates that slowed down older iPhone models. This investigation was made public on January 30, 2018 by a Bloomberg news report.

In December 2017, Apple admitted that iOS updates slowed down the performance of older iPhone models. The slowdowns occur when an iPhone battery reaches an unspecified point of low health, and can be fixed if a user replaces the iPhone battery. Apple publicly apologized for not clearly communicating that these iOS updates throttled the speed of older iPhones. Apple announced that it plans to release a further software update in 2018 that allows users to turn off throttling, but may leave older iPhones more prone to random rebooting.

Some consumers allege that Apple slowed down iPhones in order to force them to upgrade to newer – and more expensive – iPhone models. Industry experts estimate that these iOS updates have caused slowdowns in millions of iPhone 6, 6s, SE and 7 models.

If you have experienced slowdowns in your iPhone and would like to discuss this matter, you may contact us at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

Lisa P. Mak Joins Board of The Bar Association of San Francisco

Lisa P. Mak Joins Board of The Bar Association of San Francisco

Minami Tamaki attorney Lisa P. Mak recently started a two-year term on the board of directors of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF).

The BASF board has two seats designated for representatives of the Minority Bar Coalition. Lisa was selected by the Coalition for one of the seats. She served as co-chair of the Coalition in 2017 and continues to serve on its board.

The Minority Bar Coalition (MBC) is a network of over 40 diverse bar associations dedicated to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession. MBC does this by sharing best practices and resources in bar association programming and advocacy, finding issues of common cause, and building shared platforms.

“I hope to contribute to BASF’s commitment to engage our members with service opportunities, educational programs, and community advocacy,” said Lisa. “I want the legal community to know about the meaningful work this organization has been doing, especially in the current political climate. I’m also excited to continue working with both BASF and the MBC to drive our shared goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession.”

Lisa’s new BASF role is an extension of her ongoing leadership in the community and in the legal profession. She serves on the boards of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, and is Co-Chair of the Diversity Outreach Committee of the California Employment Lawyers Association.

Lisa is part of our Consumer and Employee Rights Group and passionate about protecting the rights of consumers and employees as individuals and in class actions. Her practice includes employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, contract claims, and labor code violations. She is experienced in litigation, from pre-litigation negotiations to trials and appeals. Lisa also advises employees on employment contracts and severance agreements.

PHOTO: Minami Tamaki attorney Lisa P. Mak (left) with other members of the BASF board.