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Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Present at NAPABA Convention

Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Present at NAPABA Convention

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki and Associate Lisa P. Mak spoke at the national convention of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) held in Las Vegas from November 3-6, 2022.

Don was on the panel “Long-Overdue Reparations for African Americans: Why AAPIs Should Care” with Loyola Marymount Prof. Cheryl Grills, and filmmaker Jon Osaki, moderated by Bonnie Youn, Managing Director, The RMN Agency. The panel explored the role of Asian Americans and the fight for Black reparations.

Lisa was on the panel “Gathering Facts, Building a Case and Appearing in Court in the New Normal” with U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona Wang, Mintz Group Chief Legal Officer Patricia Astorga, and King and Spalding LLP Counsel Jenny Pelaez. The panel explored approaches, benefits, and challenges of conducting investigations and litigation in the virtual or hybrid setting.

In related news, Lisa started a two-year term as Alternate Regional Governor for Northern California on the NAPABA Board. She is also serving as President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, the largest local Asian American bar association in the country and one of the largest minority bar associations.

Minami Tamaki LLP was the inaugural recipient of NAPABA’s APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year.

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus 50th Anniversary Gala to Honor Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Peggy Saika

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus 50th Anniversary Gala to Honor Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Peggy Saika

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus will honor Minami Tamaki LLP co-founder and Senior Counsel Dale Minami, former Managing Partner and Senior Counsel Donald K. Tamaki, and Peggy Saika with Yuri Kochiyama Visionary Awards at its 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, November 18, 2022, at Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

The milestone celebration theme is “Tomorrow’s World is Ours to Build” and draws from Yuri Kochiyama’s powerful call to action to commemorate 50 years of civil rights advocacy for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities. 

The gala will be emceed by actress Tamlyn Tomita and feature musical performances from Jiten Daiko, an exciting comedic performance by Negin Farsad, and a special conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving low-income, immigrant, and underserved AAPI communities. The organization’s event announcement read: “In the spirit of this legacy and Kochiyama’s rallying call, it is our privilege to recognize three leaders who have played critical roles in the vision and direction of ALC. We honor Dale, Don, and Peggy because as ALC staff in our early years, they exemplified the spirit of compassionate community lawyering that continues to inspire our staff today. Dale, Don, and Peggy would emerge as respected civil rights leaders beyond their time at ALC, helping to shape the struggle for social justice over several decades.”

Dale Minami, Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP, has litigated significant civil rights cases for Asian Pacific Americans including leading the legal team that overturned Fred Korematsu’s landmark 40-year-old conviction. Minami received the American Bar Association’s highest award, the ABA Medal, and the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall and Spirit of Excellence Awards. He has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer in Northern California for 18 straight years. He co-founded the Asian Law Caucus, the first public interest law firm serving Asian Americans in the country, AALDEF, and the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, the first Asian American bar in the country.

Don Tamaki, Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP, and former executive director of the Asian Law Caucus (1980-1983), 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. He is co-founder of Stop Repeating History, 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. In 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Tamaki to serve on the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.

Peggy Saika, Executive Director of Common Counsel Foundation since 2019, has worked for over four decades as a social justice leader in movements for racial equity; gender, sexuality, and reproductive justice; environmental justice; and immigrant and workers’ rights. Previously the Executive Director of Asian Law Caucus from 1983 to 1991, Saika also served as the founding Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network from 1993 to 2001, and as the CEO of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy from 2002 -2015. She is a co-founder of the Asian Women’s Shelter, API’s for Choice, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and the NY Committee to Free Chol Soo Lee.

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus 50th Anniversary Gala is on Friday, November 18, 2022, at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. The reception starts at 6 p.m., and the evening’s program and dinner will begin at 7 p.m. Purchase your ticket at https://bit.ly/3soFpcf or contact development@advancingjustice-alc.org for sponsorship details.

What Employers and Employees Should Know as Tech Industry Braces for Layoffs

What Employers and Employees Should Know as Tech Industry Braces for Layoffs

The tech industry has recently been hit by a series of major layoffs that will impact thousands of employees. Meta, Twitter, Lyft, and Stripe, among others, have all announced major job cuts in the face of economic challenges.

The decision to conduct layoffs is always difficult, especially when there is an urgency to implement layoffs quickly. Common issues that arise in layoffs include:

Potential employment discrimination claims. Employers must develop objective criteria for layoff decisions. Employers that fail to base layoff decisions on nondiscriminatory reasons, such as quality of work, may be subject to employment discrimination claims.   

Potential retaliation claims. Employees who have complained of suspected violations of the law may have grounds to pursue a retaliation claim if selected for a layoff.  

Disparate impact on protected classes. Employers should review selection criteria to determine if they will disproportionately affect older employees, employees with disabilities, or any other group protected by employment laws.  

Advance notice requirements. In some cases, employers are required to provide advance notice of layoffs under the federal WARN Act or the California WARN Act.  

While most employers are not legally required to offer severance packages to laid-off employees, many employers will decide to do so voluntarily. Issues for employers and employees to consider in severance agreements include:

Release of claims. Employers may condition severance payment, or increased payment, on the employee signing a waiver of potential legal claims against the employer. Employees should consider the impact of giving up the right to pursue such claims before agreeing to accept severance payments.

Confidentiality and non-disparagement. In exchange for a severance payment, employers often seek to force employees to agree not to discuss the terms of the severance package or to make negative statements about the employer. California has recently placed limitations on some of these restrictive clauses, which employers should be careful to comply with. 

Non-compete and non-solicitation clauses. Non-compete agreements that prevent former employees from working for a company’s competitors are generally not enforceable in California.    

Protections for older workers. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act requires that employers provide workers who are at least 40 years old with at least 21 days to consider a severance offer.  

Employees are not required to simply accept an employer’s offer of a severance package in exchange for waiving their legal rights. Severance agreements can sometimes be negotiated, and employees can seek more favorable terms.  

For more information on reductions in force and severance agreements, you may contact Minami Tamaki Consumer and Employee Rights Group attorneys Sean Tamura-Sato and Lisa Mak online or call us at 415-788-9000.

*The content of this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal 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.

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ Ranks Minami Tamaki LLP for 9th Year

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ Ranks Minami Tamaki LLP for 9th Year

U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers announced that Minami Tamaki LLP has been ranked in the 2023 “Best Law Firms” list nationally for its Immigration and Nationality Law practice and regionally for its Personal Injury practice.

The firm’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice received a National Tier 2 ranking, the fourth year of being nationally ranked. The practice ranked Metro Tier 1 for the eighth consecutive year. The firm’s Personal Injury practice ranked as Metro Tier 1 for the ninth consecutive year.

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 the field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. To be eligible for a 2023 ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer recognized in the 13th edition of The Best Lawyers in America list for that particular location and specialty.

Earlier this year, The Best Lawyers in America recognized seven Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2023 edition. Partners B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay made the Best Lawyers list. Associates Lisa P. Mak and Seema Bhatt were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch. These selections qualified the firm to be considered for the Best Law Firms list.

The Immigration and Nationality Law Practice Group of Minami Tamaki LLP offers expertise in a broad array of immigration services, routinely assisting employers and employees in obtaining temporary and permanent employment-based visas. The firm’s immigration attorneys also help individual clients to secure family-based immigration status through marriage or other qualifying family relationships. The practice group includes Partner Suhi Koizumi, Partner Olivia Serene Lee, Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay, Senior Associate Angela C. Mapa, and Associates Dian Sohn and David Palmer.

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. A team approach brings all the resources of the practice group to cases. This has allowed the firm to recover multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts for its clients. Senior Counsel Dale Minami founded the firm’s personal injury practice, which is led by Partner B. Mark Fong and includes Senior Associate Seema Bhatt and Associate Ember Oparowski.

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $850,000 for Massage Therapist Suffering Hand Injury from Car Crash

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $850,000 for Massage Therapist Suffering Hand Injury from Car Crash

Our client, a massage therapist, was injured when a vehicle made a left turn in front of them and struck their car head-on. During the collision, our client gripped the steering wheel tightly, and suffered a fracture of the 5th metacarpal bone in their right hand – also known as a “boxer’s fracture.” 

After the fracture healed, our client developed carpal tunnel syndrome in their right wrist and was unable to return to work. We had our client evaluated by an orthopedic hand and wrist specialist, who performed carpal tunnel release surgery. Although the surgery was successful, our client developed carpal tunnel syndrome in their left arm due to overuse and required a second carpal tunnel surgery on their left arm.

Our client’s injuries directly impacted their livelihood as a massage therapist. Our vocational rehabilitation expert determined our client would likely suffer a permanent two-thirds reduction in income due to their decreased ability to perform massages. 

Through our investigation, we determined the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident was employed by a large medical device manufacturer. We argued the driver and his employer were negligent, and the collision was the legal cause of the carpal tunnel syndrome in both of our client’s arms. 

Through pre-litigation negotiation, Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Associate Seema Bhatt and Associate Ember Oparowski settled our client’s claim against the medical device manufacturer for a total of $850,000.

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $1 Million Settlement in Tenant Fall Caused by Landlord Negligence

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $1 Million Settlement in Tenant Fall Caused by Landlord Negligence

Our client, a 48-year-old retail manager, was entertaining friends on the second-story balcony of his San Francisco apartment. As he leaned against the railing it gave way, causing him to fall 10 feet to the concrete patio below and strike his head on the concrete.

Our safety expert determined the railing was dry-rotted and improperly affixed to the building with nails that had become corroded. We also discovered the staircase of which the balcony was a part had undergone renovation several years before our client’s accident, but the rotted condition of the railing was never discovered. Instead, the landlord painted over the railing and covered its defective condition.

Our client suffered physical injuries which included spinal and rib fractures and a head laceration.  He made a complete recovery from his physical injuries but, months after his fall, complained of a decline in his memory and cognitive abilities.  

We had him tested by neurological and neuropsychological experts, who demonstrated he had suffered a mild traumatic brain due to the fall. We argued that, although our client had recovered physically, he may suffer cognitive impairment for years to come, if not permanently. 

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Mark Fong settled our client’s claim against his landlord for a total of $1,000,000.  As a happy end note, our client was able to purchase a home with the proceeds of his settlement, which will give him the stability and security he needs.

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $7 Million for Family of Senior Killed by Inattentive Bus Driver

Minami Tamaki LLP Obtains $7 Million for Family of Senior Killed by Inattentive Bus Driver

We represented the eight adult children of a 71-year-old disabled woman who was hit by a school bus while driving her motorized scooter in a crosswalk in San Jose and subsequently died. We sued the driver of the bus, the company that employed him and owned the bus, and the public entity that hired the bus company to drive its students.

Together the defendants denied the driver was negligent. However, we obtained surveillance video from a nearby business, as well as video onboard the school bus, and created a reconstruction of the accident that showed the driver’s head was turned to his left at the time he struck the victim, instead of facing ahead as it should have been. If the driver had been properly attentive, the accident would never have happened.

In addition to proving fault for the accident, one of the great challenges in this case was proving the value of the loss of care, guidance, and support the decedent gave to each of the plaintiffs. We spent months getting to know her children, who described their mother as the matriarch of their family and the glue that held them together.

By delving into her life story, we learned the decedent emigrated from Mexico as a young woman, hoping for a better life for her children in the U.S. A single mother, she worked at factory jobs to support them, despite having only one leg. She truly was an inspiration to her children, who credit her as their role model and the reason for their success in life.

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Mark Fong and Senior Associate Seema Bhatt settled the clients’ claims at mediation for a total of $7 million.

Seven Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2023 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ List

Seven Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2023 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ List

The Best Lawyers in America recognized seven Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2023 edition. Partners B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay made the Best Lawyers list. Associates Lisa P. Mak and Seema Bhatt were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch.

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing. The Ones To Watch awards are recognitions given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States. Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Olivia, Suhi, and La Verne were selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Olivia’s sixth, Suhi’s fourth, and La Verne’s second listing on The Best Lawyers in America rankings.

Dale and Mark were selected for the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs list for the tenth year in a row. Seema made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the third straight year. In addition to being recognized again in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category, Seema was also listed in the Medical Malpractice Law – Plaintiffs category.

Lisa P. Mak made the Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch list for the second time in the Litigation – Labor and Employment category. Lisa’s ranking represents the firm’s second listing in the employment law category.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the U.S. News/Best Lawyers Best Law Firms list, which is announced in November. The firm has been recognized eight times on the Best Law Firms rankings, which 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. 

Best Lawyers has published its list for more than three decades, striving to earn the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as a reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 75 countries.

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.