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Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2018

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2018

Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Seema Bhatt recently attended the annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Convention in Chicago. The Convention had over 2,000 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law students, and elected officials attending from around the country.

This year, Dale, Don, and Karen Korematsu (Founder & Executive Director of The Fred T. Korematsu Institute) were awarded the NAPABA President’s Award.  This award recognizes NAPABA members who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to NAPABA, the legal community, and the broader APA community.

Dale, Don, and Karen received this year’s award for their work on the “Stop Repeating History” campaign (StopRepeatingHistory.Org), which educates the public on the dangers of unchecked presidential power and the parallels between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the current administration’s policies targeting minority groups based on race or religion.  In his award acceptance remarks, Don urged APA attorneys to lead on this issue due to our communities’ experience with racist and xenophobic immigration policies.


Partners Donald K. Tamaki (left) and Dale Minami (right) meeting audience members after their panel on the Korematsu v. United States and Trump v. Hawaii cases.

Don and Karen also spoke on a panel with Hoyt Zia (an original founding member of NAPABA), and moderated by Dale, about the parallels between the Korematsu v. United States and Trump v. Hawaii cases.  Don and Dale were members of the legal team that overturned Fred Korematsu’s conviction for his defiance of Japanese American exclusion orders during World War II.  

The panel discussion was preceded by a screening of the powerful film, “And Then They Came For Us,” which compares the Japanese American incarceration with the Muslim travel ban.  The film, produced by Peabody award-winning director Abby Ginzberg, won the 2018 ABA Silver Gavel Award, and has been a cornerstone of the “Stop Repeating History” campaign.


Associate Lisa P. Mak (second from left and on screen) served as panelist for a plenary session on the #MeToo movement.

Lisa was a panelist for a convention plenary luncheon session entitled “Beyond #MeToo: How Asian Americans Can Challenge Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” with about 1,000 attendees.  The all-women panel discussed the impact of the #MeToo movement in the workplace, strategies to improve equality for women in the legal industry, and the unique challenges of addressing sexual harassment in APA communities.  During her remarks, Lisa emphasized the importance of being upstanders and allies for harassment victims in order to create a cultural change for the fair treatment of women.

Our firm also helped to sponsor the NAPABA Solo & Small Firm Network (SSF) stipend program, which provides funds for SSF committee members to attend the conference and future NAPABA events.  “Minami Tamaki is a longtime proponent of SSF’s work, including the committee’s CLE Bootcamp that provides legal skills training and business advice to SSF attendees at the Convention. The firm is proud to contribute to SSF’s mission of building and supporting APA-owned law firms,” said Partner Sean Tamura-Sato.


Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (left), Associate Lisa P. Mak (right), with other attendees at one of the NAPABA convention lunches.

This year, the late San Francisco Mayor Edwin Mah Lee was honored with the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s most prestigious award which recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of lawyers who have paved the way for the advancement of other APA attorneys.  The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA) spearheaded the nomination of Mayor Lee for this award.

Our firm congratulates outgoing President Pankit Doshi from San Francisco for his successful leadership this year. Daniel Sakaguchi, also from San Francisco, was sworn in as the new NAPABA President. Both Pankit and Daniel are members of AABA, which was co-founded by Dale Minami over 40 years ago.

Minami Tamaki is proud to continue supporting NAPABA and its efforts to address civil rights issues, promote professional development, and increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Photo credits: John B. Lough, Lisa P. Mak, Betty Hsu, Winston Liaw

Jennifer Fraissl wins $4.5 million jury award in case against Skrillex

Jennifer Fraissl wins $4.5 million jury award in case against Skrillex

A Los Angeles jury on Nov. 20 awarded Jennifer Fraissl $4.5 million in damages against DJ and producer Skrillex (real name Sonny John Moore), his touring company, Lost Boys Touring Company, Inc., and the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles.

Fraissl alleged that on February 11, 2012, Skrillex stage dove at the end of his set, causing her to be struck in the back of her head and neck. Although she was unaware of it at the time, the blow caused her to suffer a rare vertebral artery dissection, followed by a catastrophic stroke 16 days later.

The jury voted 12-0, finding all defendants negligent and responsible for Fraissl’s stroke.  The jury found Skrillex 35 percent responsible, Lost Boys Touring, Inc. 40 percent responsible, and the Belasco Theater 10 percent liable.  The jury awarded Fraissl $4.5 million in damages, which will be reduced to over $3.8 million because the jury found Fraissl 15 percent at fault.

Fraissl was represented by Seth I. Rosenberg of Emergent LLP, and B. Mark Fong and Seema Bhatt of Minami Tamaki LLP. Fraissl’s attorneys believe this is the first successful jury award in a case involving injuries resulting from a performer’s crowd dive.

Fraissl’s case faced numerous obstacles, including asking the jury to find the defendants liable for a blow that could not be seen on videos of the show, and which occurred in a setting where many people assume stage diving occurs. Fraissl’s attorneys also had to convince the jury that her stroke being caused by the blow to her head two weeks earlier was not only possible, but probable. Ultimately, credible expert and lay witnesses, plus a remarkably effective trial presentation prevailed.

“Skrillex caused Jennifer Fraissl to be injured, and the jury saw past his celebrity and wealth to hold him and the other defendants responsible,” said Rosenberg. “We presented a common-sense case despite attempts by the Skrillex team to blame the victim.”

Fraissl’s attorneys called experts from fields such as vascular neurology, interventional neuroradiology, security, and biomechanics to explain the complexity of arterial dissections and stroke, as well as crowd dynamics during a stage dive.

“Jennifer Fraissl showed that when the truth is on your side, David can beat Goliath,” said Fong. “We’re glad Jennifer persevered through this six-year-long case and are thankful to the jury and the judge for a fair and impartial trial.”

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Minami Tamaki Investigating Health Risks of Toxic Dog Food

Minami Tamaki Investigating Health Risks of Toxic Dog Food

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating claims that pet food companies are manufacturing, advertising, and selling dog food that contains dangerous levels of heavy metals and toxins throughout the United States.

Several consumers have recently filed claims against Champion Petfoods, the makers of Acana and Orijen dog food, alleging that the company misrepresents and fails to fully disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins known to pose health risks to humans and animals. These ingredients include arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, and/or Bisphenol A (“BPA”).

Consumers allege that Champion Petfoods has created a niche by selling dog food marketed as “biologically appropriate” and made of higher-quality ingredients. The complaints state that Champion Petfoods charges a premium for its products based on claims that they consist of fresh meat and vegetables.

Purchasers of Acana and Orijen are not alone in raising concerns about ingredients in popular brands of dog food recently. In August 2018, a New York pet owner alleged that the dog food brand Nutrish marketed as “natural” actually contained the chemical glyphosate, an herbicide used in weed-killer brands. Earlier this year, another New York dog owner filed a lawsuit alleging that the Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food she purchased for her dog contained pentobarbital, a controlled substance used to euthanize animals.  

Illnesses and even deaths linked to consumption of pet food are unfortunately not a new issue in the United States.  While some companies have sought to market themselves as an alternative to purchasing pet food that contains potentially harmful ingredients, recent allegations have raised questions about the validity of these health claims.

Conscientious pet owners are increasingly paying a premium for “fresh,” “natural” food for their pets.  These consumers expect to receive a premium product, and make their purchasing decisions to ensure that the food they provide to their beloved pets is safe to consume.  Companies that prey on consumers’ health concerns for their own profit may be in violation of state and/or federal law.

For more information, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2019 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2019 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration and Personal Injury Practices

Minami Tamaki LLP has again received a Tier 1 ranking on the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list under the “Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs” and “Immigration” categories for our metro area.

This is the fifth consecutive recognition by U.S. News/Best Lawyers of our Personal Injury practice and the fourth consecutive year of our Immigration and Nationality Law practice.

The U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process.

To be eligible for a U.S.News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro.

Earlier this year, Partners Dale Minami, Minette A. Kwok, B. Mark Fong, and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were selected by The Best Lawyers in America, which qualified the firm to be considered for the Best Law Firms list.

The attorneys in Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Practice Group fight for the rights of people who are injured or have suffered the loss of loved ones due to the carelessness of others. We use a team approach which brings all of the resources of our practice group to bear on our cases. This has allowed us to recover multi-million dollar settlements and large verdicts for our clients.

The Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Group of Minami Tamaki LLP offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services. We routinely assist employers and employees, nation-wide, in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. And, just as often, we help individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships.

Olivia Serene Lee to Receive Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award on Behalf of AILA Northern California

Olivia Serene Lee to Receive Minority Bar Coalition Unity Award on Behalf of AILA Northern California

Olivia Serene Lee will receive a Unity Award from the Minority Bar Coalition in her role in championing diversity and inclusion for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Northern California Chapter and for AILA National.  She is a leader and former chair of AILA NorCal and currently serves on AILA National’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

A Senior Associate in our Immigration and Nationality Law practice group, Olivia served as 2016-2017 Chair for AILA NorCal and previously as a member of the AILA NorCal Executive Board.  AILA is the national bar for immigration attorneys, and AILA NorCal is one of its larger chapters, with over 850 members.

This year’s Unity Awards reception will be held at 198 McAllister Street at U.C. Hastings Law School, on November 13, 2018, in the Louis B. Mayer room on the ground floor. The Minority Bar Coalition will honor Olivia and other members who have shown dedication to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession.

The Minority Bar Coalition 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.

During her tenure as chair of the Northern California Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the chapter received the Platinum Chapter Award, the organization’s highest honor for chapters, in June 2017. Under Olivia’s leadership, AILA NorCal was at the forefront in proactively responding to the institutional assault against immigrants. When the Trump administration attempted to enact a travel ban on Muslims, AILA NorCal was one of the first groups to respond, providing services at airports, and offering assistance to those impacted.

Olivia has been actively involved in AILA NorCal since 2009, leading and organizing more than 30 Continuing Legal Education programs in all aspects of immigration law, including prosecutorial discretion, export control, PERM, waivers, asylum, and events with immigration judges, USCIS, CBP, DOL and asylum officers. She also served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s and H-1Bs.

Employee No-Poach Agreements Face Legal Pressure

Employee No-Poach Agreements Face Legal Pressure

Minami Tamaki is investigating “no-poach” and wage-fixing agreements between companies in numerous large industries.

A no-poach agreement involves companies agreeing not to compete for each other’s employees, such as by not soliciting or hiring them. A wage-fixing agreement involves an agreement regarding employees’ salary or other terms of compensation. No-poach and wage-fixing agreements that are not reasonably necessary to any separate, legitimate business collaboration between companies (known as “naked” agreements) are unlawful.

No-poach agreements have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, as critics argue that they rob employees of labor market competition, and deprive them of job opportunities and the ability to negotiate better terms of employment. Consumers have recently filed class actions against companies such as Burger King alleging that no-poach agreements illegally prevent employees from being hired or solicited from other franchises of the same brand. Some U.S. policy experts contend that no-poach and wage-fixing agreements have contributed to the low rate of wage growth in recent years in an otherwise robust economy.

The federal government has publicized its intention to target illegal agreements among competitors. In October 2016, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Federal Trade Commission issued policy guidance warning that naked no-poach and wage-fixing agreements among companies would be treated as criminal antitrust violations.

This guidance followed on the heels of the DOJ filing civil enforcement actions against technology companies that allegedly entered into no-poach agreements with competitors, including Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar.

Since issuing its guidance in October 2016, the DOJ has continued to demonstrate its willingness to pursue no-poach agreements. In April 2018, the Antitrust Division filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against rail equipment suppliers Knorr-Bremse AG and Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp., and with it simultaneously filed a proposed civil settlement. The Complaint alleged that these companies and a third company, Faiveley, reached naked no-poach agreements in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

In July 2018, Attorneys General from 11 states formed a coalition to investigate no-poach agreements in franchise contracts of fast food chains, including Arby’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys, Little Caesars, Panera Bread, Popeyes, Wendy’s. Fast food chains, including Arby’s, Auntie Anne’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carl’s Jr., Cinnabon, Jimmy John’s, and McDonald’s, also agreed in July 2018 to cease restricting individuals seeking employment from other branches of the same chain for higher pay.

This practice is not limited to fast-food chains. Jiffy Lube, H&R Block, and Anytime Fitness are among the other companies that have been reported to have had no-poach agreements in their franchisee contracts.

All business should be aware of developments in the law regarding no-poach and wage-fixing agreements, and should review their contracts for any such provisions. Franchised business, many of which have historically utilized contracts with no-poach provisions, should be particularly vigilant. Businesses and employees affected by no-poach and/or wage fixing agreements should consult with an attorney even if such provisions have not been enforced in the past.

For more information on our investigation and the current state of the law with regarding no-poach agreements, you may contact us online or at 415-788-9000. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.

Minami Tamaki LLP Accepting Applications for 2019 Summer Clerk Program

Minami Tamaki LLP Accepting Applications for 2019 Summer Clerk Program

The Summer Clerk Program is a 10-week paid internship at Minami Tamaki’s San Francisco office.  Our Clerks work primarily on employment litigation, catastrophic injury claims, consumer and antitrust class actions, and business immigration filings. Summer Clerks also receive substantive assignments from the firm’s business transactional group.

Summer Clerks perform extensive legal research and writing, and receive hands-on experience in case evaluation and management, discovery practice, and trial preparation.  Summer Clerks also have the opportunity to contribute to the firm’s social justice work with numerous bar associations and community organizations.

The firm is seeking highly motivated and detail-oriented second year law students who are genuinely interested in plaintiff-side civil litigation and/or business immigration work.  Applicants must have outstanding academic credentials, strong legal research and writing skills, and excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  We value Summer Clerks who have a demonstrated interest in civil rights and community service.

Interested 2Ls should email cover letter, resume, and academic transcript to skoizumi@minamitamaki.com. Application deadline is Noon Pacific Time on October 26, 2018.

Established in 1974, Minami Tamaki LLP takes pride in providing the highest quality legal representation with an emphasis on personalized service.  Minami Tamaki has a strong and historical commitment to social justice and community outreach.  The firm brings its deep background in civil rights work to its current practice in the areas of Consumer and Employment Rights, Personal Injury, Corporate and Nonprofit Counseling, Immigration and Nationality Law, and Entertainment.  The firm’s culture is collegial and collaborative, but tenacious in its representation of its diverse clientele.  The lawyers at Minami Tamaki combine outstanding lawyering skills with an ethical and progressive approach to solving the legal problems of its clients.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook Security Breach

Minami Tamaki Investigating Facebook Security Breach

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating reports that Facebook suffered a data breach that compromised user profiles.  Facebook announced on September 28, 2018, that the security issue affected almost 50 million user accounts.

According to a Facebook security update, attackers exploited a vulnerability in the site’s code that impacted the “View As” feature, which allows users to view their profile as if they were someone else. The vulnerability allowed the attackers to receive access tokens which were used to take over user accounts. Access tokens are digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password upon every use.

Users throughout the United States may be impacted by this data breach.  On September 28, Facebook reset access tokens for affected accounts and temporarily turned off the “View As” feature.  The company also reset an additional 40 million accounts that have been subject to a “View As” look-up as a precautionary measure.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience representing individuals who have been harmed by privacy breaches.  For more information about this data breach and your legal rights, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Four Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Four Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Dale Minami, Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in the 25th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Dale and Mark were selected for the list in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. It is the sixth year in a row that they received this honor.

Minette was selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Minette’s fifth consecutive time on The Best Lawyers in America list.

Olivia was also selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It’s Olivia’s second listing in The Best Lawyers in America.

Best Lawyers is a respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Recognition in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for an attorney are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that attorney must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition.

Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.