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Student Run Over in Crosswalk Recovers $585,000

Hanna P. (fictitious name), a 22-year old mathematics student at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking home from campus when she was struck by a sedan in 2007 on a busy Berkeley intersection. She was slammed to the ground, striking her face. She fractured four teeth and needed implants and bone grafts.

Partner Dale Minami, Senior Counsel Mark Fong and Associate Eunice W. Yang obtained the $25,000 policy limits of the driver of the sedan, and in addition, obtained a $540,000 settlement for Hanna at mediation against her own insurance company under an Underinsured Motorist Claim. In addition, the team claimed reimbursement of $20,000 medical payments. In total, the team recovered $585,000 for Hanna.

The bone graft, insertion of implants, and placing of crowns required almost 18 months of painful procedures and her consultants felt she would require two or three more such procedures in her lifetime. In addition to the fractured teeth, Hanna suffered a fractured nose and continual headaches, which were diagnosed by the prosthodontist to whom we referred Hanna. Fortunately, the prosthodontist discovered the problem and was able to create a splint for Jenny that helped reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.

Hanna’s insurance company disputed this claim and felt she would not require another implant, offering $340,000 to settle the case. Our team was able to convince the insurance company that she would be a chronic dental patient, suffer headaches for the rest of her life and compromise the delicate anatomy and physiology of her teeth and mouth. The settlement will compensate Hanna for her past pain and suffering and medical bills and will pay for Hanna’s future dental needs and the pain and inconvenience of her future procedures.

Minami Tamaki Recovers $2.1 Million for Medical Malpractice

Fred F. (fictitious name), a 51-year-old home care provider, was driving in the course and scope of his employment as a caregiver in San Francisco. Fred was struck by a Hummer rented from the Hertz Corporation and driven by a foreign tourist making an illegal turn on a red light. He was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of the local hospital, where Fred’s treating physicians inadvertently injured his spinal cord rendering him a partial quadriplegic.

Senior Counsel Mark Fong, Partner Dale Minami and Associate Eunice Yang handled the auto accident claim, which settled for Hertz’s policy limits of $1 million, and later settled the claim against the physicians and the hospital for $2.1 million.

Fred faced a number of challenges in settling the medical malpractice case. First, non-economic damages were capped at $250,000 due to the California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act of 1975. His past and future wage loss claim was $252,157.

The defendants argued that Fred’s claim for future medical expenses was unrecoverable as a matter of law, as the compensation carrier had agreed to provide him with lifetime medical care.  Through experts in healthcare financial administration, life care planning and workers compensation utilization review, our team argued that workers compensation is unlikely to pay for much of the treatment he will need over the next 30 years, leaving him exposed at the time when he will most need care.

The team settled the medical malpractice case for $2.1 million, recovering all of Fred’s wages and the terms of the settlement provides Fred with the lifetime care that he needs.

Homeowner Pays $300,000 in Dog Bite Case

Sumiko S. (fictitious name), a 32-year old, was visiting an acquaintance in San Ramon, when she was viciously attacked by the homeowner’s pit bull/Welsh corgi mix in 2009. While she was petting the dog, it suddenly jumped up and bite Sumiko’s face and upper lip, causing serious injuries to about a third of her lip.

Partner Dale Minami handled the case for this client and was able to arrange for a renowned plastic surgeon to repair Sumiko’s lip as it was so severely mangled that she needed four stages of reconstructive plastic surgery. The first surgery was needed to repair her upper lip by removing the damaged tissue from Sumiko’s face and lip. The subsequent three stages of surgery included a procedure to rejuvenate the skin on the lip, then reconstruct the delicate features of her mouth.

Sumiko also suffered emotional distress including nightmares and flashbacks rising from the attack and was despondent over facial disfigurement.

The case settled for $300,000, the homeowner’s policy limits, which provides Sumiko with the option of pursuing further reconstructive surgery in the future and psychological care as needed.

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2011

Minami Tamaki at NAPABA Convention 2011

By Olivia Lee and Sean Tamura-Sato

Minami Tamaki attorneys recently attended the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Convention, held in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 17-20, 2011. Partners Dale Minami and Brad Yamauchi, and Associates Olivia Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato, and Eunice Yang joined over 1,200 other Asian American and Pacific Islander lawyers, judges, legal scholars, and law students at the Omni Hotel at the CNN Center.

Minami Tamaki LLP Associates Olivia Lee (far left), Eunice Yang (third from left) and Sean Tamura-Sato (far right), with Attorney General of Hawaii David Louie (middle).

This year’s Convention theme of “Sustainability” focused on planting the seeds of renewal and growth for AAPIs, and celebrated the achievements of AAPIs in the legal community. Minami Tamaki attorneys reconnected with old friends and made new ones during the four day event filled with CLE panels, receptions, committee meetings, plenary sessions, and after-hours events. Among the dozens of inspiring and dynamic panels were sessions on the impact of 9/11 on the AAPI community ten years later, the introduction of state immigration laws patterned after Arizona Senate Bill 1070, AAPI representation in the judiciary, and an examination of race, color, and citizenship through reenactments of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in the cases of Ozawa and Thind. Members of the Ozawa family also attended these reenactments.

Minami Tamaki Partner Dale Minami (third from right) with Attorney General of Hawaii David Louie (far left), Hawai’i Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina S. McKenna (third from left), California Supreme Court Associate Justice Goodwin Liu (fourth from left) and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (fifth from right).

The Minami Tamaki delegation attended several Solo & Small Firm Committee events, including a Committee dinner and planning meeting. Minami Tamaki is committed to increasing solo and small firm membership and benefits within NAPABA, and to providing a support and referral network for Committee members. Future plans include educational programs focusing on solo/small firm practice, and increased dialogue regarding the interests of consumers, employees, and accident victims.

Associates Olivia Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato, and Eunice Yang also attended several Young Lawyer / First Time Attendee events at the Convention, allowing them to build bonds with the next generation of NAPABA trailblazers. It was truly rewarding to meet so many impressive young attorneys from around the country.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin was the keynote speaker at the Anniversary Gala and Celebration Dinner on November 19. Judge Chin entertained the crowd with stories from numerous cases he presided over during 15 years on the U.S. District Court (S.D. N.Y.) bench, including the trial and sentencing of financier Bernard Madoff.

The annual NAPABA Judges Panel featured three AAPI Supreme Court Justices: Justice Ming Chin (California Supreme Court); Justice FernandeDuffly (Massachusetts Supreme Court); and Justice Sabrina McKenna (Hawai’i Supreme Court). California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu also offered special remarks to the capacity crowd regarding his journey to the State high court. The esteemed panelists shared stories from their diverse experiences and dispensed vital tips for oral advocates (“Answer the question asked!”).

Minami Tamaki Partner Dale Minami (right) with, from left, Attorney General of Hawaii David Louie, California Supreme Court Associate Justice Goodwin Liu and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono.

The Convention also included Plenary Session remarks by Yale Law Professor and best-selling author Amy Chua. Professor Chua’s entertaining and engaging speech ranged from recounting the media firestorm around her book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” to providing advice to young AAPI lawyers and law students on how to succeed in legal practice.

The 2011 Convention reinforced Minami Tamaki’s commitment to NAPABA, and our goal of mentoring and supporting members engaged in civil rights, social justice, and small firm practice. We look forward to participating in the 2012 NAPABA Conference in Washington, D.C.

National Trial Lawyers Selects Mark Fong as Among Top 100 Trial Lawyers in California

Mark FongSenior Counsel B. Mark Fong in our Personal Injury Practice was recently selected to be a member of the National Trial Lawyers, which is composed of the top 100 trial lawyers from each state.

Membership in National Trial Lawyers can only be obtained through special invitation and is extended to attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications, leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as trial lawyers, both civil plaintiff and criminal defense.

Mark is a trial lawyer with 30 years experience who has obtained multi-million dollar settlements and large verdicts, specializing in the trial of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability and medical malpractice cases throughout California in State and Federal Court.

One of the top personal injury lawyers in the Bay Area, Mark has also been named a Northern California Super Lawyer in the Personal Injury category and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.  He is rated “AV” by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, signifying the highest level of legal ability and professional standards of ethics. Mark is also listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers for high professional legal standards and ethics.

See Mark’s listing on the National Trial Lawyers site.

Delays in Prevailing Wage Determination

The Department of Labor (DOL) has temporarily suspended the issuance of Prevailing Wage Determinations (PWDs) for H-1B petitions and PERM Labor Certification Applications. To date, the DOL has not committed to a date it will resume prevailing wage processing.

The delay is due to a federal court mandate that requires DOL to reissue PWDs for approximately 4,000 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker petitions using a revised wage methodology in line with new federal regulations. To comply, DOL has dedicated all its resources to H-2B cases, and suspended PWD issuance for all other cases. DOL estimates that they will complete the H-2B cases by October 1, 2011.

The delay particularly affects the filing of PERM applications, the first step for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency through employment. A PWD is needed for all PERM applications before it can be filed and involves the issuance of a wage level determination according to the job code and location of an occupation. The delay could result in difficult timing issues for foreign nationals who need to extend their H-1B petitions beyond the sixth year. Also, it may negatively impact children of foreign nationals who are close to aging out. Employers may also need to rerun advertisements if they are unable to utilize existing recruitment.

The DOL has not commented on how it will handle these issues for employers. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has reached out to DOL to resume processing of PWDs and address the potential ramifications of this delay. We will provide you with additional updates as we receive new information.

Source: Minette Kwok, Partner, Minami Tamaki LLP’s Immigration and Nationality Law Practice

Minami Tamaki Partners Named ‘Super Lawyers’ for 8th Straight Year

Minami Tamaki LLP is proud to announce that all of our Partners and all of our Senior Counsel have been selected as Northern California Super Lawyers for 2011. This is the eighth straight year that our Partners received this distinction.

Our firm is one of the very few, and possibly the only one, in which every Partner and Senior Counsel received this distinction. Only five percent of the lawyers in the California are named by Super Lawyers.

Partners Dale Minami (Personal Injury), Donald K. Tamaki (Corporate), Brad Yamauchi (Employment), Minette A. Kwok (Immigration), Jack W. Lee (Employment), Senior Counsel Lynda Won-Chung (Immigration), Mark Fong (Personal Injury) and Derek G. Howard (Consumer Law) and Senior Associate Seth I. Rosenberg (Personal Injury) were selected based on voting conducted by ballots sent to more than 56,000 lawyers in the region, an extensive process involving peer nomination and a blue ribbon panel comprised of lawyers from appropriate practice areas who scrutinized the list of nominees.

Dale Minami has been selected for eight straight years in the Personal Injury category and as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers for each of the last five years.

Northern California Super Lawyers is published annually in August in a special advertising section in San Francisco Magazine, which reaches more than 400,000 monthly readers. Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, featuring articles about the local legal community, is delivered to more than 64,000 readers, including Northern California lawyers, the lead corporate counsel of the Russell 3000 companies and the ABA-approved law school libraries.

The selections for Super Lawyers are made by Law & Politics, a division of Key Professional Media, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. Each year, Law & Politics undertakes a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by the Law & Politics’ attorney-led research staff, a peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check.

Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum Certifies Jack W. Lee as Member

Partner Jack W. Lee was recently certified as a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.

Membership to the organization is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. Fewer than one percent of U.S. lawyers are members.

Forum membership acknowledges excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange in major cases. Members must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client has received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of one million dollars or more.

Partner Dale Minami and Senior Counsel Mark Fong are also members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Senior Counsel Derek Howard is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Together We Made a Difference, Raising $490,314.36 in Combined Donations, Matches

More than 15,000 died and 9,500 people are still unaccounted for following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan. Countless more were also impacted by the resulting nuclear power plant problems.

We asked for your help to support the people of Japan. And you came through.

Please accept our deep appreciation and gratitude for your generous donation to our Minami Tamaki/IOYS matching fund campaign in support of the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

Together with you, we made a difference: raising $490,314.36 in combined donations and matches. We were only able to do this because of your generosity, your help with sharing our message and through the support of our campaign partners, who are listed on our site at

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