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Minami Tamaki and In re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission

Minami Tamaki and In re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission

UPDATE (01/02/2014) – The California Supreme Court rules Sergio C. Garcia can be admitted to the state bar. Minami Tamaki LLP was one of the firms representing the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California with respect to the Bar’s recommendation to the high Court that Garcia be allowed to become a lawyer. Read the ruling here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S202512.PDF

UPDATE (10/5/2013) – Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 1024, allowing undocumented immigrants to be licensed as attorneys in California. The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez inspired by Sergio Garcia.

Garcia, who was brought to the United States by his undocumented immigrant parents when he was 17 months old, has earned a law degree and passed the California State Bar Examination and moral character check. His application was certified to the California Supreme Court for review. The Court issued an order asking for clarification of several issues related to the practice of law by undocumented immigrants.

Minami Tamaki LLP was one of the firms representing the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California with respect to the Bar’s recommendation to the high Court that Garcia be allowed to become a lawyer. The Committee of Bar Examiners’ brief argues that state and federal laws permit Sergio Garcia to be licensed as an attorney in California. Also on the brief were Professor Emeritus Bill Ong Hing, attorneys from the State Bar of California, the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and UC Davis School of Law Dean Kevin R. Johnson.

The case is In re Sergio C. Garcia on Admission (S202512).

If You Bought an LCD Flat Panel Product, You May Qualify for a Cash Payment

If You Bought an LCD Flat Panel Product, You May Qualify for a Cash Payment

Oct. 18 Update: See today’s announcement regarding this settlement.

We want to make sure you do not miss the announcement of the historic settlement of one of our cases that could mean $25, $100, $200 or more in your pocket.

Since 2007, Minami Tamaki partner Jack Lee has served as the Court-appointed Liaison Counsel for consumers, known as “indirect purchasers,” in a class action against ten leading international companies for unlawfully conspiring to fix prices of LCD panels used in laptops, desktop monitors, and flat screen televisions. The case is IN RE TFT-LCD (FLAT PANEL) ANTITRUST LITIGATION, MDL Case No. 1827, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

The indirect purchasers we represent include individual and private companies in 24 states and the District of Columbia that purchased laptops, monitors, and TVs containing LCD panels for use (and not for resale) from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2006.

This litigation has resulted in settlements totaling approximately $1.1 billion, the largest amount ever obtained for consumers who bought products indirectly from retailers and resellers, and not directly from the original manufacturer. The net proceeds of the settlement, after attorneys’ fees and costs, will be distributed to consumers and businesses that submit claim forms.

We believe it is likely that you, like tens of millions of other consumers, may have purchased one or more of the products at issue in this case during the seven year period that the price-fixing occurred. We hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to recover any unlawful overcharges you paid as a result of this conspiracy.

Consumers and businesses in the District of Columbia and the following 24 states are eligible to participate in this settlement:  Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Eligibility requirements and instructions on the claims process are available online at the web site: https://lcdclass.com/Home.aspx.The deadline for filing claims is December 6, 2012. Eligible consumers will be able to collect $25, $100, $200 or more by answering a few simple questions about the number of LCD flat screen TVs, monitors, and laptops they bought from 1999 to 2006. The exact amount of each payment will depend upon the number of products purchased and the number of claims filed. No receipts or other documents are required for small claims.

We believe that the eligibility requirements and claims process described on the web site are clear and simple. However, if you have questions or would like assistance in preparing your claim, we invite you to contact our toll-free LCD help line at 1-855-225-1886 or via e-mail at info@lcdclass.com.

While Minami Tamaki LLP is pleased to announce this settlement and to have played a substantial role in this momentous litigation, we will ultimately measure our success by the benefits actually received by consumers eligible to share in the proceeds, including our friends and clients. We are therefore notifying you of this opportunity, urging you to submit your claim, and offering whatever assistance you feel you may need to realize the maximum benefit available to you. We also encourage you to pass this information on to your friends, family members, and colleagues who may be interested in making claims for their share of this settlement.

Asian American Community Celebrates Nancy Pelosi’s 25 Years in Congress

jcccnc_and_brad_yamauchi_nancy_pelosi_aapi

Partner Brad Yamauchi (back row, second from left) and his wife, Diane Gunderson ( back row, left ), joined an Aug. 28 celebration of Nancy Pelosi’s 25 years of service in Congress. Brad is a board vice president of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), one of the organizational members of the event host committee. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (back row, second from right) was the first woman Speaker of the House.

District Court Preliminarily Approves Settlement in Akaosugi v. Benihana National Corporation

On August 20, 2012, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved the class action settlement reached by the parties in Akaosugi v. Benihana National Corp., Case No. 11-cv-01272 (WHA).

The Settlement Class, which consists of current and former employees of Benihana-branded teppanyaki-style restaurants in California, alleged that Benihana required employees to forfeit vacation pay in violation of California wage laws. Benihana denies any wrongdoing, and the Court has not made any finding on the merits of the claims. The parties’ settlement remains subject to final Court approval.

Lewis Feinberg is co-counsel for the class along with Minami Tamaki LLP. A court-approved notice of the proposed settlement will be mailed by October 3, 2012. A final approval hearing will be held on January 24, 2013.

La Verne Ramsay to Present at AILA NorCal CLE Event on May 29

Senior Associate La Verne Ramsay in the Minami Tamaki LLP Immigration Practice Group will be a featured speaker at a CLE event on “Advanced Issues in PERM Labor Certifications” presented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association Northern California Chapter.

Also featuring Lisa Spiegel, a partner at Duane Morris LLP, the CLE event will be on Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at Duane Morris LLP, One Market Plaza, Spear Tower, Suite 2200, San Francisco. Cost is $30 in advance and $40 at the door if space is available. This is an AILA NorCal members-only event. AILA NorCal is a State Bar of California approved provider. For more information, please contact Olivia Lee or Angela Mapa at programdirector@ailanorcal.com.

$2.9 Million Recovery for Fall

Brenda K. (fictitious name), a 76-year-old married artist, fell down a dark staircase at night at a retreat center in rural Marin County where she was attending a weekend conference. There were no witnesses to the fall and she was found by other guests who heard her cries for help after she landed close to the bottom of the staircase.

Although there were serious issues with proving negligence and causation, our discovery showed that lighting on the stairs was less than the minimum required by the building code and one of the handrails of the stairs did not extend to the bottom of the staircase, which was also a code violation and would have contributed to her falling while descending the stairs in the dark.

Brenda was airlifted by helicopter ambulance to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek where she was hospitalized from February 21 to April 13, 2009. She was diagnosed as a C6 quadriplegic and underwent fixation of fractures at the C4/C5 level in her neck; laminectomy surgeries of the C3 through C7 levels; and implantation of surgical rods and hardware from C4 to C6. She was transferred to California Pacific Medical Center where she stayed from April 13 to June 5, 2009.

Brenda’s medical expenses, which were paid by Medicare, were approximately $490,000. The retreat center had an insurance policy of $3 million. Senior Counsel Mark Fong, Partner Dale Minami and co-counsel Steve Cavalli settled her claim for damages and her husband’s claim for loss of companionship and services for $2.9 million.

Minette Kwok Joins American Immigration Council Board of Trustees

Minette KwokMinami Tamaki LLP Partner Minette A. Kwok will join the national Board of Trustees of the American Immigration Council, effective June 2012.

Based in Washington, D.C., the American Immigration Council has played a leading role in the national debate over immigration reform. With its focus on advocacy, public policy, litigation and education, the AIC is dedicated to changing the way Americans think and act towards immigrants, and committed towards advancing fundamental fairness and due process for immigrants.

“The AIC sits on the cutting edge of immigration law and policy, and I’m excited to be a part of it, “said Kwok. “Its leadership represents all that is outstanding, forward thinking, and compassionate within the immigration bar.”

“The Trustees voted unanimously to have Minette join the Board. She is a perfect fit for our organization given her expertise, demonstrated leadership, and contributions to the immigrant community,” said Board of Trustees Chair Kirsten Schlenger, managing partner of Weaver Schlenger Mazel LLP.

Ms. Kwok heads the immigration practice group at Minami Tamaki LLP, which focuses primarily on business immigration, representing startups and Fortune 500 companies in the IT, engineering, clean energy, and manufacturing industries, guiding employers through mergers/acquisitions, reduction in force, and phenomenal growth.

She has served as a Commissioner with the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization’s Immigration and Nationality Law Advisory Commission; as Chair of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Northern California; and as Liaison to the Department of Labor, Region IX.

Minette has been named a Northern California Super Lawyer by Law & Politics Magazine for eight consecutive years, was selected as one of the Top 50 Female Northern California Super Lawyers, and has been awarded an AV rating by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating for competence and ethics issued by that publication, reserved for attorneys designated as outstanding in their field.

Landmark Brinker Decision Clarifies Employer’s Burden to Provide Breaks, Continues Use of Class Actions

By Kevin R. Allen, CERG Practice

On April 12, 2011, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Brinker v. Superior Court (S166350). The opinion was highly anticipated because it could have potentially, on one extreme, eliminated wage and hour class actions based on break claims altogether or, on the other extreme, made employers strictly liable for missed breaks regardless of fault.

In finding a middle ground, the decision has a little something for everyone. With respect to meal periods, it held that an employer satisfies its obligation to “provide” a meal period “if it relieves an employee of all duty” for an uninterrupted 30-minute break and does “not impede or discourage” employees from taking this break. Once an employer meets this obligation, it is “not obligated to police meal periods and ensure no work is performed.” The court clarified that the employer must provide a first meal period after no more than five hours work and a second meal period after no more than ten hours of work, as opposed to every five hours as was argued by plaintiffs in the case.

The Supreme Court held that an employer satisfies its burden to “authorize and permit” a 10 minute rest break for each four hours of work “or major fraction thereof” through 10 minutes of rest break time for shifts of three and half hours to six hours, 20 minutes for shifts of more than six hours up to 10 hours, and 30 minutes for shifts or more than 10 hours and up to 14 hours, and so on. Rest breaks can occur at any time during the shift, either before or after the meal period.

Lastly, the Court indicated that there is no per se rule against using the class action device to address meal and rest breaks: “Claims alleging that a uniform policy consistently applied to a group of employees is in violation of the wage and hour laws are of the sort routinely, and properly, found suitable for class treatment.”

Dale Minami Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Alameda Democratic Group

Dale Minami photoPartner Dale Minami on March 29 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County at their 7th Annual Membership Dinner in Oakland Chinatown.

The Caucus also honored Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer-prizewinning reporter who revealed in mid-2011 that he was an undocumented immigrant, sparking a national discussion about immigration and the impact of immigration policies on Asian Americans.

The Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County was officially chartered in March 2005. It is the first ever chartered club focusing on Asian Pacific Americans in Alameda County, formed to ensure equal participation in and support from the Democratic Party of Alameda County.

Dale has been recognized as one of the top personal injury attorneys in the Bay Area and leads Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury practice. He also represents clients in the entertainment industry.