Blog :

Minami Tamaki LLP Welcomes Ember Oparowski to Personal Injury Practice

Minami Tamaki LLP Welcomes Ember Oparowski to Personal Injury Practice

Minami Tamaki LLP announces that Ember Oparowski has joined the firm as an Associate. She brings to the firm a decade of litigation experience involving complex matters with catastrophic injuries and multimillion-dollar claims.

She has worked for civil defense firms in the Bay Area representing general contractors, restaurants and bars, insurance companies, property owners, and product manufacturers. In addition to her experience at private law firms, Ember was a fellow and a law clerk at the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office where she handled arraignments, motions, and served on trial teams.

Ember received her J.D. from Golden Gate University. She participated in the Honors Lawyering Program, made the Dean’s List, and completed the Certificate in Litigation with Distinction. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Politics.

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2022 Super Lawyers

We’re proud to announce that nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2022. Both Senior Counsels have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 19 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY
Dale Minami (Top 10, 2013-2018; Top 100, 2007-2022; Super Lawyers, 19 years)
B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 13 years)
Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars)

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW
Olivia Serene Lee (Super Lawyers, 2 years)
Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers, 4 years)
Dian Sohn (Rising Stars)

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS
Sean Tamura-Sato (Super Lawyers. 2 years)
Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars)

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT
Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 19 years)

Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in California are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive Super Lawyer honors and no more than 2.5 percent are selected to receive the Rising Star recognition.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers, visit SuperLawyers.com.

PHOTO – Top Row (L-R): Sean Tamura-Sato*, B. Mark Fong*, Olivia Serene Lee*, Suhi Koizumi*; Middle Row (L-R): Lisa P. Mak**, Dale Minami*Top 100, Donald K.Tamaki*, La Verne A. Ramsay; Bottom Row: (L-R): Angela C. Mapa, Dian Sohn**, Seema Bhatt**, David Palmer. Not pictured: Ember Oparowski.*Chosen to 2022 Super Lawyers **Chosen to 2022 Rising Stars

Seema Bhatt Helps Car Crash Victim Win Arbitration Award More than Triple Original Offer

Seema Bhatt Helps Car Crash Victim Win Arbitration Award More than Triple Original Offer

Our personal injury attorneys at Minami Tamaki LLP do not hesitate to go to arbitration or trial when insurance companies don’t treat our clients fairly.

Our client, a 40-year-old journalist, suffered neck, back, shoulder, and arm injuries after another driver broadsided him. After four years of treatment with a chiropractor and other practitioners, he still suffered pain and residual injury.

Our client’s total economic damages for medical treatment and lost wages were $60,000. State Farm’s top settlement offer was $79,000, which did not adequately compensate our client for his pain and suffering. Because State Farm refused to pay fair value, Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Associate Seema Bhatt took his case to underinsured motorist arbitration.

One of the major disputes at the arbitration hearing was how our client’s complaints of neck and shoulder pain and stiffness could have lasted to the present. State Farm’s orthopedic expert testified that soft tissue injuries rarely become chronic, that much of our client’s discomfort was due to his preexisting neck and shoulder injuries, and that no further medical treatment was necessary due to the crash.

Our orthopedic expert cited studies showing soft tissue injuries can become chronic, and testified this was a high-speed collision involving two impacts, which caused our client to suffer two “whiplash-type” injuries. In addition, our client’s prior injuries were not serious or likely to be the cause of his current pain. Our expert also testified our client would have permanent residual injuries and would need further treatment for three years.

Based on our presentation, arbitrator Richard Phelps awarded our client $215,632 in damages, plus $32,000 in costs for exceeding our CCP section 998 offer to settle, for a total award of $247,632, which was more than triple State Farm’s settlement offer.

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. If you need assistance with a personal injury matter, contact Mark Fong or Seema Bhatt at 415-788-9000 or online at https://www.minamitamaki.com/contact.

California Reparations Task Force Releases Interim Report

California Reparations Task Force Releases Interim Report

Minami Tamaki LLP co-founder and Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki serves on the task force.

As part of California’s historic Assembly Bill 3121 (AB 3121), the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (Reparations Task Force) today released an interim report providing an in-depth overview of the harms inflicted on African Americans in California and across the nation due to the ongoing legacy of slavery and systemic discrimination.

The interim report includes a preliminary set of recommendations to the California Legislature and a final report is expected to be issued in 2023. The Reparations Task Force is a first-in-the-nation effort by a state government to study slavery, its effects throughout American history, and the compounding harms that the United States and Californian governments have inflicted upon African Americans.

Some of the key findings noted in the interim report include:

  • In order to maintain slavery, colonial and American governments adopted white supremacy beliefs and passed laws in order to maintain a system that stole the labor and intellect of people of African descent;
  • In California, racial violence against African Americans began during slavery, continued through the 1920s, as groups like the Ku Klux Klan permeated local governments and police departments, and peaked after World War II, as African Americans attempted to move into white neighborhoods;
  • Due to residential segregation and compared to white Americans, African Americans are more likely to live in worse quality housing and in neighborhoods that are polluted, with inadequate infrastructure;
  • American government at all levels, including in California, has historically criminalized African Americans for the purposes of social control, and to maintain an economy based on exploited Black labor; and
  • Government laws and policies perpetuating badges of slavery have helped white Americans accumulate wealth, while erecting barriers which prevented African Americans from doing the same. These harms compounded over generations, resulting in an enormous gap in wealth between white and African Americans today in the nation and in California.

Minami Tamaki LLP firm co-founder and Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki serves on the task force as an appointee of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Learn more about the interim report and the next steps of the task force.

Media Contact: (916) 210-6000, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

California Supreme Court Holds Meal and Rest Break Premiums May Trigger Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

California Supreme Court Holds Meal and Rest Break Premiums May Trigger Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

On May 23, 2022, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., No. S258966 (Cal. May. 23, 2022) holding that meal and rest period premium payments constitute wages under California law. The Court found that employers may be held liable for the failure to properly report and timely pay out such wages.  

Naranjo is a reminder of the importance of strict compliance with meal break and rest break requirements.  Employers should review their written policies and ensure that managers are adequately trained on meal break and rest break rules.  California law generally requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with an unpaid 30-minute meal break prior to the end of the fifth hour of work. Employers also are required to provide employees with a paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked (or major fraction thereof). The penalty for failing to provide a legally mandated meal break or rest break entitles the employee to payment of one hour of wages at the employee’s regular rate of pay (the “premium” payment).

Naranjo establishes that meal break and rest break premium pay constitute wages. Failing to pay meal break or rest break premiums during employment violates an employer’s prompt payment responsibilities under California Labor Code Section 203. Failing to include premium pay for missed breaks on an employee’s itemized wage statement violates the employer’s duty to supply an accurate itemized statement reflecting an employee’s gross wages earned, net wages earned, and credited hours worked.

Moreover, failure to pay meal break or rest break premiums permits employees to seek statutory waiting time penalties pursuant to Labor Code Section 223 equal to one day of pay for each day an employee’s final wages are withheld or paid late, up to a maximum of 30 days’ wages. 

For more information, contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato and Lisa Mak online or call us at 415-788-9000.

Dale Minami: ‘This country is on the edge of a disaster’

Dale Minami: ‘This country is on the edge of a disaster’

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami appeared on a recent episode of Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast, a program hosted by retired pastor Dr. Ken Fong. Dale recounted the background and details of some key moments in his life and his efforts as part of the legal team representing Fred Korematsu.

Dale also spoke with Dr. Fong about the precarious moment we’re in with anti-democratic forces “allied with white supremacists, and the [right-wing] Supreme Court, and the lack of protections for civil rights” … threatening “us as minorities as people of color on the streets every day.” “… Maybe I read too much, maybe I watch the news too much, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t know that this country is on the edge of a disaster.” Listen to the episode here.


On May 21, Dale visited the Minnesota Historical Society, to give a presentation in conjunction with the ongoing traveling exhibition “Right a Wrong,” developed by the National Museum of American History and adapted for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Dale recounted how a fraud on the United States Supreme Court resulted in upholding of the conviction of Fred Korematsu and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II at a lecture titled “Echoes of History: The Japanese American Imprisonment Resounds Today.”


“No History, No Self: The Fight for Asian-American Studies at Hunter College” is a new documentary released on May 20 that includes an interview with Dale. For the past 15 years, students and faculty at CUNY’s Hunter College have protested for an institutionalized Asian American Studies Program. This documentary serves to remind CUNY of its imperative responsibility to pursue an Asian Studies Program to combat ongoing racialized violence. 

I think it’s important to “humanize people and show that their history is not that different than other minority groups, people of color,” says Dale in the film. “That would help at least mollify some of the criticisms about Asian Americas being the model minority, which is one of the worst constructs ever promoted to divide us with other minority groups, other people of color.”


In March, Dale was the featured speaker on a program hosted by the Asian American Federal Employees for Nondiscrimination (AAFEN), an advocacy group that seeks fair and equal treatment and inclusive representation of Asian Americans in the federal government. Dale’s talk was “Asian Americans and Loyalty: What Can We Learn from the Japanese American Incarceration Experience?”

AAFEN co-founder Aryani Ong hosted the program, with opening remarks by White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders Deputy Director Rebecca Lee.

Watch the program here.

Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law File Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleging Sutter County Delayed Hate Crime Investigation

Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law File Civil Rights Lawsuit Alleging Sutter County Delayed Hate Crime Investigation

Rouble Claire, a Sikh American in Sutter, California, was victimized by threats and racial slurs in May 2021 and called 911 for help. Representatives of the local sheriff’s office took no action immediately following the incident, except for a deputy that tried to wash away the evidence. The sheriff’s office ignored Mr. Claire’s repeated requests for help for several months afterward.

Mr. Claire asked the Sikh Coalition for help and their efforts led to the sheriff’s office eventually recommending charges against the two civilian defendants, one of whom is still unidentified, but the district attorney declined to press charges, and the perpetrators were never held accountable.

On May 9, 2022, Minami Tamaki LLP and Szeto-Wong Law filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of California against officers of the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office (“Sheriff’s Office”), Sutter County, and two civilian individuals.

“No one should have to face this kind of hate and the threat of violence,” said Minami Tamaki Partner Sean Tamura-Sato. “It is truly disheartening to see those entrusted with protecting victims like Mr. Claire abdicate their responsibility.”

 “This civil suit is a first step to remedying that failure, as well as taking legal action against the women who threatened and harassed him, who have faced no consequences whatsoever due to Sutter County’s practice of inadequately investigating and prosecuting hate crimes against racial and ethnic minorities,” said Szeto-Wong Law Principal Attorney Gina Szeto-Wong.

Claire, a first-generation Sikh American whose family has called Sutter, California, home since 1973, was threatened with racial slurs and vehicular violence and then, in a second separate but related incident hours later, subjected to hateful graffiti at his home.

On May 11, 2021, a woman confronted Mr. Claire in the parking lot of a local store. The woman shouted at Mr. Claire, including calling him a “f—— Hindu.”  The woman then sped towards Mr. Claire in her car, only swerving away at the last moment.  Mr. Claire called 911 and waited for the Sheriff’s Office to report to the scene, but no one arrived at the scene, so Mr. Claire returned to his home.

Later that same day, an associate of the woman who threatened Mr. Claire in the parking lot went to his house and wrote “Sand N—–” in chalk on the street and on his driveway, and called him “N—–.”  Mr. Claire again called law enforcement to report this incident, but the Sheriff’s Office failed to make any arrests, failed to further investigate, and failed to even prepare a report of the two incidents that day. 

One deputy who responded to the chalking incident poured water on the chalking in an attempt to wash away the evidence of the racial slurs before taking photos of the scene.

Over the next several months, Mr. Claire continued to contact the Sheriff’s Office about these disturbing incidents, but the Sheriff’s Office refused to take action.  Mr. Claire sought the assistance of the Sikh Coalition, which continued to follow up with the Sheriff’s Office.  The Sheriff’s Office finally prepared a police report that recommended criminal charges against the woman who threatened Ms. Claire in the parking lot. 

However, the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office (the “District Attorney”) declined to press charges.  The District Attorney’s office cited the amount of time that had elapsed between the incidents and the preparation of the report recommending charges as a reason not to prosecute the matter, despite the fact that this delay was due to the Sheriff’s Office’s months-long delay in investigating this matter and recommending charges. 

Mr. Claire’s lawsuit includes a Municipal Liability claim against the County of Sutter for Unconstitutional Policy, Practice or Custom (42 U.S.C. 1983), and claims against Sheriff’s Office Deputies for Violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution regarding the failure to administer police services in a non-discriminatory manner (42 U.S.C. 1983) and Conspiracy to Violate Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. 1985).  The suit also alleges violations of state law, including the Ralph Civil Rights Act, the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act, and claims of Assault, Trespass, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against the civilian defendants. 

The case is Claire v. County of Sutter, et al., 22-cv-00780-WBS-AC, Eastern District of California.

Minami Tamaki Partner Olivia S. Lee Honored with 2022 AILA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award

Minami Tamaki Partner Olivia S. Lee Honored with 2022 AILA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has selected Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee with its 2022 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. AILA’s Annual Awards are the highest recognition of achievement and contributions in the national immigration law community.

AILA is a national association of more than 16,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. The AILA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award is bestowed upon an individual, law firm, law school, nonprofit, or organization in the immigration field that has promoted diversity, equity, and inclusion excellence in the immigration legal profession.

Olivia and other AILA award recipients will be recognized at AILA’s 2022 Annual Conference during the Annual Membership Meeting, which will be held June 16, 2021, at 5:15 p.m. in the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center, New York City.

Olivia is an elected member of the AILA Board of Governors, helping the organization promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Olivia has been part of AILA since 2009, when she joined the Advisory Council of the AILA Northern California chapter. From June 2016 to July 2017, she served as the Chair of AILA Northern California. During that time, the chapter won the Platinum Award, the highest recognition for AILA chapters.

Before her election to the AILA Board of Governors, Olivia served as Chair of the AILA National Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She also currently serves on the American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. Olivia is frequently invited to serve as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s, H-1Bs, entrepreneur visa options, and business immigration litigation in federal court.

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

Lisa P. Mak Leads AABA Gala in Honoring Community and AAPI Legal Luminaries

The Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation, held its 46th Annual Gala on March 30, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Minami Tamaki LLP was proud to be a Title Sponsor for the gala this year. Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak is serving this year as President of AABA.

Some of the Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys and staff at the AABA gala (from left): Katie Chan; Lisa P. Mak; Jack W. Lee (retired); Donald K. Tamaki; Gail Lang; Mark Fong; and Dale Minami. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

The AABA gala theme for this year was “Speak Up, Rise Up.” In her President’s Address at the gala, Lisa said the theme “was inspired by how our community and our allies spoke up and fought back against the rising anti-Asian hate and violence in the Bay Area and across the country in the last two years.” Lisa shared her family’s experience with racism after they immigrated to this country, emphasized the importance of speaking up in unity, and encouraged the AABA community to think about how they can make a difference.

The program celebrated several distinguished honorees, including Michael G.W. Lee as the recipient of this year’s Minami Impact Award, named after Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami to acknowledge attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession.

Dale Minami presents Michael G.W. Lee with the Minami Impact Award, honoring attorneys who have had a positive impact on the Asian American community and the legal profession. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Judge Lucy H. Koh from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit received the AABA Trailblazer Award. The late Justice Harry W. Low was recognized, along with an announcement of the new Justice Harry W. Low Fellowship that will be administered by the AABA Law Foundation later this year.

The gala concluded with a fireside chat between Lisa and Michelle MiJung Kim, an entrepreneur, activist, and author of “The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change.”  

AABA President Lisa P. Mak, a Minami Tamaki LLP attorney, in a fireside chat with Michelle MiJung Kim. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Over 500 guests attended the Gala this year, including over 30 judges, and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. Betty Yu from KPIX 5 CBS was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The gala opened with a musical performance from the Oakland Youth Chorus, the longest-running youth chorus in the East Bay.

Minami Tamaki LLP Managing Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (right) with Doris Cheng (middle) and AABA Treasurer John B. Lough, Jr. Sean is a former AABA board member. Photos by Bob Hsiang and Lowell Downey.

Through her term as AABA President this year, Lisa will aspire to honor and continue AABA’s history of speaking up for our community while elevating our members in the legal profession and keeping our voice at the table.

Watch Lisa’s president’s address below and view the other presentations of the gala awards on YouTube.