Blog : Personal Injury

Four Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Selected for 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Four Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Selected for 24th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Dale Minami, Minette Kwok, and B. Mark Fong and Senior Associate Olivia Serene Lee were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in the 24th 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 fifth 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 fourth 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 inaugural 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.

75th Anniversary of E.O. 9066 in the Spotlight at Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

75th Anniversary of E.O. 9066 in the Spotlight at Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Dale Minami joined Judge Marilyn Hall Patel (Northern District of California), Judge Mary Schroeder (Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) and Karen Korematsu at the recent Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference to discuss Korematsu v. U.S. and the persisting relevance of the government’s malfeasance in the Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

The annual Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference is a prestigious invitation-only forum that includes judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. district courts and lawyers practicing in these courts. This past conference was held July 17-20 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown San Francisco.

The conference included a special program marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 and the presidential directives that led to the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans citizens during World War II.

The program focused on the extraordinary search for justice by Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui – who waited four decades to be exonerated of criminal convictions for violating government orders based on the dangers posed by Japanese Americans, claims that were later proven false.  Documents admitting their falsity by government lawyers were suppressed and other evidence discounting the danger of Japanese Americans were altered, destroyed or suppressed from Supreme Court review.   In addition to historical accounts, the discussion focused on the imperfect balancing of civil rights and national security during a period of national uncertainty.

“The court gave almost complete deference to the military, and they refused to look at any underlying facts in the justification for the incarceration,” said Minami. “The duty of the courts is to judge any decision by any person on constitutional law – nobody is above the constitution. Those issues are still relevant today, as we well know.”

Judges Patel and Schroeder who authored the decisions in the Korematsu and Hirabayashi cases, respectively, told poignant stories of how the cases affected them and became some of the most significant rulings in their long and respected careers.  Karen described the ostracism her father suffered from his own community for challenging the Military Orders and appealing to the Supreme Court for relief.

Read more about the program in this article on

Dale to Speak on Korematsu Case at Japan Society Event on Aug. 24

The Japan Society of Northern California has invited Dale to speak at its event on August 24, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Dentons law firm, Spear Tower, 1 Market Plaza, San Francisco.

Dale will share details of the Korematsu coram nobis team’s successful effort in 1983 to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, whose defiance of the World War II Japanese American exclusion order led to Korematsu v. United States, one of the most controversial United States Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century.

The Korematsu cases remain highly relevant today as our nation wrestles with issues of race, ethnicity and immigration. Earlier this year a Ninth Circuit federal judge referred to the Korematsu case to raise questions about President Trump’s proposed ban on visitors from Muslim-majority countries.

For more information about the August 24 event, visit

Congratulations to Our Firm’s 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers

SUPER LAWYERS 2017 (Photo by Gary Wagner) – BACK ROW (L-R): Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars); Donald K. Tamaki (10-plus years); La Verne A. Ramsay; Suhi Koizumi (Rising Stars); Sean Tamura-Sato (Rising Stars); Olivia Serene Lee (Rising Stars); Heather Osuna; B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers); FRONT ROW: Jack W. Lee* (10-plus years); Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars); Minette A. Kwok (10-plus years); Dale Minami (Top 10, Top 100, 10-plus years)

We’re proud to announce that all of Minami Tamaki LLP’s Partners and more than 70 percent of our Associates were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers for 2017. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Three of our Partners have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 14 consecutive years. Dale Minami was named to the Top 10 and Top 100 lists.

Dale Minami – Personal Injury
Super Lawyer Top 10, 2017 (5 years)
Super Lawyer Top 100, 2017 (10 years)
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)

Minette A. Kwok – Immigration
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 50 Women, Northern California (3 years)

Jack W. Lee – Consumer and Employee Rights (*Retired)
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 100 (1 year)

Donald K. Tamaki – Corporate and Nonprofit Counseling
Super Lawyer, 2017 (10+ Years)

B. Mark Fong – Personal Injury
Super Lawyer, 2017 (8 Years)
Super Lawyer, Past Top 100 (2 Years)

Sean Tamura-Sato – Consumer and Employee Rights
Rising Stars, 2017 (5 years)

Suhi Koizumi – Immigration
Rising Stars, 2017 (8 years)

Olivia Serene Lee – Immigration
Rising Stars, 2017 (4 years)

Lisa P. Mak – Consumer and Employee Rights
Rising Stars, 2017 (3 years)

Seema Bhatt – Personal Injury
Rising Stars, 2017 (inaugural year)

Congratulations to all of you!

Lisa P. Mak Honored at Asian/Pacific Bar of Sacramento Foundation Event

On May 25, 2017, Associate Lisa P. Mak received a legislative resolution presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento Law Foundation for her success in the Hagadorn v. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department case.

In May 2016, a jury awarded our clients a collective total of over $3.5 million in economic and non-economic damages for their claims of employment retaliation.  Earlier this year, the County dropped its appeal of the successful verdict.

Presented by Assemblymember Phil Ting, the congratulatory resolution praised the case as “a stunning victory not only for the plaintiffs, but also for the four Asian American lawyers who had so ably and steadfastly represented them.”

The resolution also commended Minami Tamaki for its “successful legal representation in practice areas inclusive of civil rights and employment discrimination and its leadership role as a preeminent Asian American law firm in California.”

At the same event, Partner Dale Minami presented a keynote address titled “Empowering the Community and Educating the Public through Law.”

Dale spoke about his legal career working on cases with significant national impact, including: the reversal of the convictions of Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi for challenging the internment order of Japanese Americans during World War II; the unfair denial of tenure to Professor Don Nakanishi at UCLA that highlighted discrimination in academia; and the first employment class action lawsuit in the country brought by Asian Pacific Americans, challenging employment practices at Blue Shield.

Dale emphasized the importance of using legal cases to empower our communities and educate the public, and the need to increase diversity in our leadership and judiciary.  Dale is a founding member of ABAS, the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and the Asian Law Caucus.


Heather Osuna Joins Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Group

Heather Osuna Joins Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Group

We are pleased to announce that Heather Osuna has joined Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Group as an Associate. Prior to joining us, Heather represented individuals who were victims of personal injuries from asbestos exposure and the victims’ families. She served as second and third chair in complex asbestos trials with verdicts in the millions of dollars.

Heather received her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in 2014. During law school she served on the board of the La Raza Student Organization and Student Bar Association. She was the recipient of a CALI Excellence for the Future Award and two Witkin Awards for Academic Excellence. She is currently a member of the San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association, San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, Asian American Bar Association and the American Association for Justice.

Welcome Heather!

Minami Tamaki Recovers $3.25 Million for Family of Man Killed by Muni Bus

Minami Tamaki Recovers $3.25 Million for Family of Man Killed by Muni Bus

Personal Injury Group Partner Mark Fong and Associate Seema Bhatt represented the wife and children of 78-year-old Cheng Jin Lai, who was killed by a Muni bus while riding his bicycle in the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco.

The bus made him lose control of his bicycle, causing him to fall under the rear wheel of the bus and be killed instantly.

The police claimed Mr. Lai caused his own death by turning into the bus, citing an eyewitness. However, at deposition, the eyewitness testified the bus turned into Mr. Lai’s path and, in effect, “cut him off.”

Mark and Seema argued the bus driver violated Muni policies which required its drivers to maintain at least three feet of clearance from other vehicles, including cyclists. They also showed the bus was missing a mandatory wheel guard which prevents people from being run over by the buses’ rear wheels.

Survived by his wife and seven children, Mr. Lai had overcome great adversity during his lifetime.  To escape persecution during the Sino-Vietnamese war, he led his family on foot from Vietnam to China, pushing his youngest children in a wheelbarrow.

After retiring from his job as a factory manager in China, Mr. Lai emigrated with his wife to the United States in 1996 to live with their children.  Although he lived in low-income housing, he remained the patriarch of his family in the U.S. Tragically, his dream of reuniting his entire family in America was never realized, as the last of his children arrived in the states four months after he was killed.  A lifelong cyclist, Mr. Lai was in excellent health when he died.

The family’s wrongful case settled at mediation for $3.25 Million.  In honor of Mr. Lai, Minami Tamaki has donated $80,000 of its attorney’s fees to help build a new Community Center in the Ping Yuen Housing Project in San Francisco Chinatown.

Spotlight on Mark Fong’s Work with Chinatown Community Development Center

Spotlight on Mark Fong’s Work with Chinatown Community Development Center


Minami Tamaki Partner B. Mark Fong (right in photo) and other members of the firm attended Chinatown Community Development Center’s (CCDC) 39th Gala and Tribute to Rose Pak on October 7. More than 800 guests joined together to pay tribute to Rose, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., and current Mayor Edwin Lee.

CCDC is a community development organization primarily serving Chinatown, North Beach and the Tenderloin. The organization plays many roles: neighborhood advocates, organizers and planners, and developers and managers of affordable housing.

Mark has served on the CCDC board of directors since 2013. He’s currently the chair of the board’s Governance Committee.

In late 2015, Mark worked with staff at CCDC to develop two Public Service Announcements which ran on Chinese television station KTSF to educate drivers and pedestrians on ways to avoid pedestrian accidents.

At least 800 pedestrians are hit by cars in San Francisco every year. In 2014 alone, 17 pedestrians died in the City. Seniors in particular face the greatest risk for being fatally injured when hit by cars. For many years, Minami Tamaki LLP has engaged in efforts to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, especially among seniors in areas such as San Francisco’s Chinatown and Japantown.

As a board member – and someone who grew up in Chinatown – Mark is proud that CCDC recently assumed responsibility from the San Francisco Housing Authority to own and manage the Ping Yuen housing projects, along with other public housing in the Chinatown cluster — a total of seven buildings with 576 units of deeply affordable housing for families and seniors in the heart of Chinatown.

Ping Yuen was built in 1955 and the buildings have never been substantially renovated until now. Under CCDC’s management, the Pings will be upgraded to meet seismic, structural, mechanical, electrical and safety standards, and each of the units will be renovated.

“This will require relocation of the tenants while work is being done, after which they will be invited to return,” said Mark. “This is a huge project which has required CCDC to increase the number of its staff to ensure the project runs smoothly and tenant relocation is handled with sensitivity.”

As a result of diminishing federal funds and declining investments in public housing, Mayor Lee selected Chinatown CDC and other nonprofit housing developers to participate in HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which has brought in new resources to rehabilitate public housing such as the Pings.

Nonprofits such as CCDC depend on community members like Mark to help provide leadership and assistance.  Says Mark, “Even though I grew up in Chinatown, serving on the CCDC board has taught me a lot about this community, and has given me the opportunity to support an organization which has made a tremendous impact to improve the quality of life for people not just in Chinatown but the City as a whole.”

‘Best Lawyers’ Selects Three of Our Partners for 2017

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Dale Minami, Minette Kwok, and B. Mark Fong were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2017.

Dale and Mark were selected for the list in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. It is the fourth 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 third consecutive time on the The Best Lawyers in America list.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become a guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Over 79,000 leading attorneys globally are eligible to vote, and we have received more than 12 million votes to date on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world.

Attorneys named to The Best Lawyers in America were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 142 practice areas. For the 2017 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 7.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in almost 55,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition.

Client awarded $2.8 million after being struck by delivery van

Dale Minami obtained $2.8 million through a settlement for client “Bill” who was struck by a delivery van that ran through a red light.

In March 2014, Bill was riding his motorcycle through a green light when a delivery driver ran a red light and hit him. The van driver claimed grueling overtime hours and unreasonable amount of deliveries as causes of his excessive speed and inattentiveness. The van was rented by the delivery driver’s employer, Progistics Distribution, Inc., which admitted liability.

Bill suffered multiple traumatic injuries, including a right scapular fracture; a right posterior AC separation, grade 2; a right T1 transverse process fracture; right-sided rib fractures at 2 through 8, with multiple segment fractures; a right pelvis fracture (iliac wing with extension into right sacroiliac joint); a right inferior and superior pubic rami fracture; a right open bimalleolar ankle fracture with talar/tibial dislocation; and a left ankle lateral malleolar avulsion fracture.

Due to the extent of his injuries, Bill was partially disabled, but thankfully has made significant improvement. He is restricted in his martial arts and ballet hobbies, and he was not able to complete his classes to obtain his Master’s Degree. Without his Master’s Degree, the nonprofit where he worked as a counselor could not sponsor him any longer, so he was forced to return to Hong Kong. He may require at least four future surgeries for removal of hardware, revision and repair to his joints, as well as an ankle replacement.

Dale argued that the accident was nothing short of life changing for Bill.  We stressed the significant injuries and permanent disabilities this accident caused and the compromise to Bill’s lifestyle. Defendants requested mediation with mediator Michael Ney. The case settled for $2.8 million to be paid by Progistics Distribution, Inc., and $5,000 to be paid by Airport Van Rental, which owned the delivery van.

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