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Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2021 Super Lawyers

We’re proud to announce that nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2021. Both Senior Counsels have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 18 consecutive years.

Dale Minami (Top 10, 2013-2018; Top 100, 2007-2021; Super Lawyers, 18 years) 
B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 12 years) 
Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars) 

Olivia Serene Lee (Super Lawyers) 
Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers, 3 years)
Dian Sohn (Rising Stars) 

Sean Tamura-Sato (Super Lawyers) 
Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars) 

Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 18 years) 

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is independent, and attorneys cannot purchase placements on the list.

PHOTO – TOP ROW (L-R): Donald K. Tamaki; Dale Minami Top 100; B. Mark Fong; Olivia Serene Lee; MIDDLE ROW (L-R): Lisa P. Mak; Seema Bhatt; Suhi Koizumi; Sean Tamura-Sato; La Verne A. Ramsay; BOTTOM ROW (L-R): Dian Sohn**; Angela C. Mapa; Claire Y. Choo; Judy Hinh Wong – *Chosen to 2021 Super Lawyers **Chosen to 2021 Rising Stars

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee was elected last week to the Board of Governors for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. As a board member, she will help 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 will serve a three-year term that started on June 11.  

Olivia’s new role as part of AILA’s national leadership continues her service to the organization that started in 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 served 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.

Olivia also serves on the American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and on the board of Chinese for Affirmative Action.  She is a member of the National Implicit Bias Network.  

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Y. Choo also serve on the AABA Board. Claire also serves as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association and on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

NFL to Halt Race-Based Assessments in Concussion Settlement

NFL to Halt Race-Based Assessments in Concussion Settlement

Minami Tamaki LLP is representing former National Football League (“NFL”) players regarding the class action settlement in the matter In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2323.  The settlement resolved allegations that the NFL was responsible for brain injuries and long-term neurological problems suffered by former professional football players. Since approval of the settlement, players have filed claims through the settlement program, which has a duration of 65 years.  

The NFL announced on June 2, 2021, that it would stop the application of “race-norming” in evaluating claims of dementia within the settlement.  The practice made it harder for Black players to show a decline in brain function and thus to qualify for a settlement award.

The change comes in response to heavy criticism of the use of race-based norms in the settlement, including a discrimination lawsuit filed by two Black former players.  Former Pittsburgh Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport alleged that the NFL has been paying claims under the settlement using a formula that “explicitly and deliberately discriminates on the basis of race.” 

In March of this year, the court ordered a mediator to review the use of separate evaluation standards.  The lawsuit also prompted members of Congress to request data from the NFL to determine whether Black players were discriminated against, as well as a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures calling for an end to race-norming. 

The NFL stated that it was committed to eliminating the use of the race-based norms and finding race-neutral alternatives. The new norms will be applied both prospectively and retrospectively for claims that would have qualified for a monetary award but for the application of the race-based norms.  As the race-neutral norms have yet to be identified, the timing for re-evaluating denied claims is uncertain.

Individuals seeking information on the settlement in the In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation matter can contact Minami Tamaki attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo at (415) 788-9000 or through our online form.

Photo credit: Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash.

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

The Minami Tamaki LLP law firm and the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation announced a $20,000 donation to support COVID-19 relief efforts in India.

The donation supported a May 27 fundraiser organized by the South Asian Bar Association of North America and others, with proceeds going to UNICEF, the Association for India’s Development, and Khalsa Aid. 

The Associated Press reported that India on Wednesday documented more coronavirus deaths in a single day than any other country at any time during the pandemic, while infections continued to spread through vast rural areas with weak health systems. The Health Ministry reported a record 4,529 deaths on May 19, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 283,248. It also reported 267,334 new infections. India has more than 26 million cases. The numbers are almost certainly undercounts.

All of us at Minami Tamaki and the MTYKL Foundation mourn the devastating tragedy of coronavirus infections and deaths. Many of our employees and clients have been personally impacted with family members or friends who have passed away or been hospitalized by the virus. Our hearts go out to the South Asian community, and we hope our fundraiser will generate more awareness and support for India as it battles the virus.

“A Night of Light to Benefit India’s Covid-19 Relief Efforts” was on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The virtual event was hosted by the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Foundation, SABA North America, and 20-plus SABA Chapters. The benefit featured TikTok comedian Zarna Garg, Asli Baat, the University of Southern California’s South Asian Fusion A Cappella group, and Reshma Saujani, South Asian activist and founder of Girls Who Code.

New Article by Lisa Mak on Whistleblower Protections in Advocate Magazine

New Article by Lisa Mak on Whistleblower Protections in Advocate Magazine

Minami Tamaki LLP attorney Lisa P. Mak authored an article, “Protecting Whistleblowers: Litigating Claims under Labor Code Section 1102.5,” in the May 2021 issue of Advocate Magazine.

In the article, Lisa writes that allowing employees to freely report and disclose potentially illegal practices in the workplace is an important tool in protecting other workers, shareholders, investors, and the general public from fraud, unsafe conditions, compliance issues, and other unlawful activity that may otherwise go undetected.

The California Labor Code has a general whistleblower-protection law, Section 1102.5, that can provide strong protections for employees who disclose or refuse to participate in unlawful activity at work. The statute reflects the California Legislature’s intent to protect whistleblowers, and reflects the importance of encouraging employees to report or resist unlawful activity without fear of retaliation.

Read the article here. The entire print issue can also be downloaded as a PDF.

Advocate, the largest magazine in the United States for plaintiffs’ trial attorneys, is published by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. Published since 1963, it is a peer-reviewed legal publication, written and edited by leading plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Minami Tamaki LLP’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group is committed to ensuring that the rights of workers are protected, including workers who report unlawful activity in the workplace.

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) honored Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami with the Inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award during its Virtual APAICS 27th Anniversary Awards Gala Dinner on May 13, 2021. 

The Award was renamed this year to reflect the outstanding contributions made by Norman Y. Mineta over a lifetime of public service.  “Receiving an award named after one of my heroes is a singular honor,” said Dale.

The APAICS’ Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a prominent Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) individual in the community. APAICS honored Dale with the award to recognize his service in devoting a lifetime to breaking down stereotypes and advocating for the AAPI community.

“You have continuously fought for the protection of the rights of people who have historically been discriminated against,” wrote APAICS President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke to Dale. “We hope to celebrate the work that you have done and continue to do.”

Founded by former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta in 1994, APAICS is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.

Watch Dale’s acceptance remarks below.

Gov. Newsom Appoints Don Tamaki to Reparations Task Force

Gov. Newsom Appoints Don Tamaki to Reparations Task Force

As the country continues to confront a history of racial injustice, deeply rooted in the legacy of slavery and systemic racism, today, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki and four other individuals to serve on the newly formed Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.

The formation of this task force was made possible by the Governor’s signing of AB 3121, authored by then-Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), which established a nine-member task force to inform Californians about slavery and explore ways the state might provide reparations.

“California is leading the nation, in a bipartisan way, on the issue of reparations and racial justice, which is a discussion that is long overdue and deserves our utmost attention,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Last year I signed into law a number of key bills focused on leveling the playing field in our society and ensuring that everyone has a fair shot at achieving the California dream. Today’s appointment of individuals with an expansive breath of knowledge, experiences and understanding of issues impacting the African American community, is the next step in our commitment as a state to build a California for all.”

The five individuals selected by the Governor to serve on this task force represent diverse backgrounds and meet the statutes required by law, which include choosing one candidate from the field of academia with expertise in civil rights, and an additional two appointees selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.

Other key factors considered for committee candidates included a background in economics and community development, health and psychology, law and criminal justice, faith-based and community activism, and an expertise in the historic achievement of reparatory justice.

The Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (Reparations Task Force) will have a total of nine members, with two individuals appointed by the Senate and two members appointed by the Assembly.

After months of interviews and careful consideration, the Governor made the following appointments:

Cheryl N. Grills, Ph.D., 62, of Inglewood, has been appointed to the Reparations Task Force. Grills was recently chosen as President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, a designation bestowed upon LMU’s most distinguished faculty who already hold the rank of tenured full professor and are acknowledged leaders in their respective fields, having achieved national and international recognition of their work. In addition to her community-based research, her work focuses on racial stress and trauma, implicit bias and community healing focused on the needs of people of African ancestry. Grills has been a Professor of Psychology and Director of Psychology of the Applied Research Center at Loyola Marymount University since 1987. She is Commissioner and Vice Chair of the LA County Sybil Brand Committee where she has served since 2011. She was President of The Association of Black Psychologists from 2011 to 2013. She is the leader of the Global Emotional Emancipation Circles Training Team where she has served since 2009. She is current lead on a national Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color Needs Assessment for several Congressional Caucuses and national civil rights organizations. Grills was leader of the Emotional Emancipation (EE) Circle process under the Community Healing Network in 2009. Grills earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University with a double major in Psychology and African American Studies. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is per diem compensation for not more than ten meetings. Grills is a Democrat.

Amos C. Brown, Th.D., 80, of San Francisco, has been appointed to the Reparations Task Force. Brown is a renowned civil rights leader who is one of the few students who studied under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was later arrested with King at a lunch counter sit-in in 1961 and joined the Freedom Riders who protested segregation in the South. Brown was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Ministerial Award for outstanding leadership and contributions to the Black Church in America and was also inducted into the International Hall of Fame at the King International Chapel at Morehouse College. Brown has been a Pastor at the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco since 1976. He was a Pastor at Pilgrim Baptist Church from 1970 to 1976 and at Saint Paul’s Baptist Church from 1966 to 1970. Brown is President and a Member of the Board of Directors of the NAACP and Chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority. He earned a Doctor of Theology degree from United Theological Seminary and a Master of Theology degree from Crozer Theological Seminary. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is per diem compensation for not more than ten meetings. Brown is a Democrat.

Lisa Holder, J.D., 49, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the Reparations Task Force. Holder has dedicated her career to racial and social justice and systems change. Holder is a nationally recognized, award-winning trial attorney who has been identified as a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine for four consecutive years. Holder has been Of Counsel at Equal Justice Society since 2016 and Principal Attorney at the Law Office of Lisa Holder since 2010. She was Lecturer in Law and Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law from 2017 to 2019. Holder was Adjunct Professor at Occidental College from 2012 to 2016. She was Associate Attorney at Hadsell Stormer Keeney Richardson from 2005 to 2009. Holder was Deputy Alternate Public Defender at the Los Angeles County Alternate Public Defender from 2001 to 2005. She was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship through the Open Society Foundation in 2001. She was an Investigator and Analyst at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem from 1995 to 1997. Holder is a Steering Committee Member of Equal Opportunity 4 All Coalition and Vice Chair of the Child Care Law Center. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesleyan University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is per diem compensation for not more than ten meetings. Holder is a Democrat.

Donald K. Tamaki, J.D., 69, of Piedmont, has been appointed to the Reparations Task Force. Tamaki is known for his historic work serving on the pro bono legal team that reopened the landmark Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. the United States, overturning Fred Korematsu’s conviction for refusing incarceration during the mass roundup and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and providing a key legal foundation in the decades’ long Japanese American Redress Movement. He is also Co-founder of StopRepeatingHistory.Org, a campaign focused on drawing parallels between the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the targeting of minority groups based on race or religion. The campaign’s current work is focused on the intersectionality of the Japanese American Redress Movement and that of African-American Reparations, with an emphasis on creating solidarity and promoting public awareness on the importance of advancing reparations for African-Americans. Tamaki has been Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP since 2020, where he also served as Managing Partner from 2006 to 2020 and was Partner from 1987 to 2020. He was a Self-Employed Owner of the Law Offices of Donald K. Tamaki from 1984 to 1987. Tamaki was Executive Director at the Asian Law Caucus – Advancing Justice from 1980 to 1984. He was a Reginald Heber Smith Staff Attorney at Community Legal Services of San Jose from 1976 to 1979 and co-founder of the Asian Law Alliance. Tamaki is a Member of the Bar Association of San Francisco and Asian American Bar Association of the Bay Area. He received the State Bar of California Loren Miller Award in 1987 and the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award in 2020. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is per diem compensation for not more than ten meetings. Tamaki is a Democrat.

Jovan S. Lewis, Ph.D., 38, of Berkeley, has been appointed to the Reparations Task Force. Lewis is an economic anthropologist and geographer who researches reparations, the political economy of inequality, and race in the United States and the Caribbean. His current work focuses on the history and contemporary circumstances of the historic Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the consequences of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Lewis is an Associate Professor and the incoming Chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2015. At Berkeley, he has also been Co-chair of the Economic Disparities research cluster at the Othering and Belonging Institute, faculty affiliate in African American Studies, since 2015. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Economic Anthropology from the London School of Economics and a Master of Arts degree in Administration from the University of Miami. This position does not require Senate confirmation, and there is per diem compensation for not more than ten meetings. Lewis is a Democrat.

The Task Force will select its own chair and vice chair and their work will be staffed by the Attorney General’s Office. Members will meet over the next year and conclude their work with a written report on their findings, along with recommendations which will be provided to the Legislature.

Today’s actions build upon the Newsom Administration’s work to acknowledge historic wrongs and combat structural racism and bias in our institutions. In March of 2019, the Governor issued a moratorium on the death penalty, which is unfairly applied to people of color, people with mental disabilities and people who cannot afford costly legal representation. Governor Newsom also took action to secure safe drinking water for the 1 million Californians in underserved communities who lacked access to safe water. He also took the historic step of formally apologizing to California Native Americans for the exploitation and violence our predecessors inflicted upon them, and he also announced the Administration’s support for tribal access to co-manage and acquire ancestral lands. Governor Newsom has also taken action to combat decades-long economic inequality by expanding the California Earned Income Tax Credit to millions, including undocumented Californians.

Audio Play ‘For Us All’ by Jeanne Sakata Features Portrayals of Dale Minami, Don Tamaki

Audio Play ‘For Us All’ by Jeanne Sakata Features Portrayals of Dale Minami, Don Tamaki

L.A. Theatre Works has released a new audio play by Jeanne Sakata titled “For Us All” based on the true story of the Korematsu v. United States coram nobis effort led by a team of young—mostly Asian American—attorneys that included Dale Minami and Donald K. Tamaki.

Purchase the audio play for $20.00 from L.A. Theatre Works. Purchase includes a virtual interview with playwright Jeanne Sakata in conversation with members of the Korematsu legal team: Lori Bannai, Peter Irons, Dale, and Don. Please note that the delivery of the audio file after your purchase may take up to 72 hours.

Directed by Anna Lyse Erikson
Producing Director: Susan Albert Loewenberg
Edward Asner as John J. McCloy
Brooke Ishibashi as Karen Korematsu, Clerk
Tess Lina as Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, Times Analyst, Clerk
Mike McShane as Lt. General John L. DeWitt, CBS News Anchor, ABC News Anchor, NBC Reporter
Derek Mio as Dale Minami
Joy Osmanski as Lorraine (Lori) Bannai, Maya
Jeanne Sakata as Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
André Sogliuzzo as Edward Ennis, Victor Stone, NY Times Reporter
Josh Stamberg as Peter Irons
Greg Watanabe as Fred Korematsu, Eric Yamamoto
Paul Yen as Don Tamaki
Producer: Anna Lyse Erikson
Recording Engineer and Sound Designer: Neil Wogensen
Senior Radio Producer: Ronn Lipkin
Foley Artist: Jeff Gardner

Learn more in a great blog post by Lia Chang.

Synopsis: A team of lawyers use a little known legal writ to fight to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, unjustly sentenced for resisting the WWII mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast. While the government uses every tactic to make the case go away, the lawyers and their defendant insist on nothing short of justice.

The play draws much inspiration from Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and his Quest for Justice by Lorraine K. Bannai (University of Washington Press 2015) and Justice Delayed by Peter Irons (Wesleyan University Press 1989).

This L.A. Theatre Works recording is one of two sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Plum Organics Baby Food

Minami Tamaki Investigating Toxic Heavy Metals Found in Plum Organics Baby Food

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating Emeryville, California-based Plum Organics after a congressional subcommittee report released on February 4, 2021, found dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals, including inorganic arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, in baby food products from Plum Organics and other companies.

The products identified in the report include rice puffs, purees, snack bars, and other foods for babies and toddlers. The Plum Organics products named in the report include Mighty Morning Bars and Little Teethers. Minami Tamaki is also investigating claims that the Bay Area-based company’s other products, including its Super Puffs, pouches, Mighty 4 Blends, Mighty Snack Bars and Teensy Snacks, also contain dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals.

Numerous studies have found that toxic heavy metals endanger neurological development and long-term brain function.  Babies and young children are at the greatest risk of harm from toxic heavy metal exposure.  The report stated that exposure to heavy metals can lead to brain damage in babies and young children, which can result in reduced intelligence or disruption in behavior.  The report went on to note that the Food and Drug Administration has declared that inorganic arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury can “lead to illness, impairment, and in high doses, death.”

The report revealed high levels of toxic heavy metals in baby food sold by other companies, such as Gerber, Hain Celestial, Beech-Nut, and Nurture. While these companies complied with the congressional request for information regarding their products, other companies (including Plum Organics) refused to cooperate with the subcommittee’s request. 

If you have purchased Plum Organics products and wish to receive more information about our investigation, you may contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group (CERG) members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, and Claire Choo online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The contents of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or medical advice.  Information in this article may not constitute the most complete or up-to-date legal or other information.  Readers should contact a licensed California attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Minami Tamaki LLP.