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Minami Tamaki Investigating Sportmix Pet Food Linked to Death and Illness of Dogs Across the U.S.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Sportmix Pet Food Linked to Death and Illness of Dogs Across the U.S.

Minami Tamaki is investigating Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. after numerous reports that dogs have become ill or died from eating the company’s Sportmix brand pet foods. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has reported that at least 70 dogs have died after consuming Sportmix products.

The FDA has issued alerts to pet owners and veterinary professionals that Sportmix products may contain potentially fatal levels of aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used as ingredients in pet foods. At high levels, aflatoxins can cause illness in animals and lead to their death.

Midwestern Pet Foods announced a recall of certain lots of Sportmix products on December 30, 2020. The company then expanded the recall on January 11, 2021, to include all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company’s Oklahoma plant with an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. Products made in the Oklahoma plant have a date/lot code on the back of the bag that includes an “05.” 

The FDA has advised that pet owners should stop feeding their pets the recalled products and consult their veterinarian, especially if the pets are showing signs of illness. 

For more information on this 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.

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Claire Y. Choo on January 1, 2021, began her one-year term as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association (“SMCTLA”). Claire is the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as SMCTLA President.

Founded in 1967, SMCTLA is the leading professional organization for plaintiff’s attorneys in San Mateo County. In addition to serving as a network for members, SMCTLA provides professional advancement programs, events fostering relationships with the county’s judiciary and elected officials, and scholarships for students interested in careers in civil law or criminal justice.

As SMCTLA President, Claire sits on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”) and is an active member in several bar associations, including the American Association for Justice.

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of AABA. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato also serves on the AABA Board. 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. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. 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.

As an attorney in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group, Claire represents clients in a wide range of cases, such as insurance bad faith, consumer fraud, catastrophic personal injuries, and aviation-related actions.

She has significant litigation experience in individual, class, and collective actions in state and federal courts across the country. Claire has also served as trial counsel in several cases. In 2016, she was second chair in an action against the State of California which resulted in a $9.5 million total verdict for a family who suffered the wrongful death of a family member.

Claire has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to 2019. She was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers in 2019.

Don Tamaki on Podcast with Dahlia Lithwick: ‘Truth, Reconciliation, and Korematsu v. US’

Don Tamaki on Podcast with Dahlia Lithwick: ‘Truth, Reconciliation, and Korematsu v. US’

Listen to the podcast here and read the transcript on slate.com.

Don Tamaki joined U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen as guests on Dahlia Lithwick’s “Amicus” podcast to explore what lessons we can learn from history when the Justice Department has been complicit in a cover-up.

The incarceration of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is one of the most shameful acts in American history. Judge Chen and Tamaki, members of the Korematsu legal team, discuss the overlooked context, corruption, and cover-up that enabled the policy, and to examine how the Supreme Court has yet to fully contend with the legacy of Korematsu v United States. They also unpack the lessons the case offers for the present moment.

Donald K. Tamaki is a Senior Counsel at Minami Tamaki LLP. Prior to January 1, 2021, he was the firm’s Managing Partner. In 2017, Don helped create the StopRepeatingHistory.org public awareness campaign dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of unbridled presidential overreach.

The campaign connected the dots between the hostility to Muslims, Arabs, and immigrants to the past discrimination against Chinese and Japanese Americans to help warn this country about the dangers demonizing marginalized groups presents to our democracy. The Stop Repeating History campaign is a project of the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation.

New Coronavirus-Related Employment Laws for 2021

New Coronavirus-Related Employment Laws for 2021

As we usher in 2021, here are some new California employment laws that may impact the legal landscape as employers and workers continue facing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). 

Enhanced Enforcement and Reporting for COVID-19 (AB 685):
The new law, effective January 1, 2021, enhances the ability of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to enforce COVID-19 safety requirements in the workplace. Within one business day of “potential exposure” based on a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace, an employer must provide written notice of the exposure to all employees, and to employers of subcontracted employees, who were at the workplace within the infectious period. The employer must also provide notice of COVID-19-related benefits and protections, and information about the company’s disinfection and safety plan to respond to the exposure. 

In cases of a COVID-19 “outbreak” (defined as three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within a two-week period among employees from different households), the employer must also notify local public health agencies within 48 hours of becoming aware of the outbreak.  The employer must continue to give notice to the local health department of any subsequently confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the worksite.  

From January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA can issue an “Order Prohibiting Use” (OPU) to shut down an entire worksite, or a specific worksite area, that exposes employees to an “imminent hazard” related to COVID-19 infection. The OPU would remove employees from the risk of harm until the employer can effectively address the hazardous situation.

From January 1, 2021, until January 1, 2023, Cal/OSHA can also issue citations to employers for “serious violations” related to COVID-19.  Prior to AB 685, Cal/OSHA would provide employers with at least 15 days of notice (the “1BY” notice) before issuing a citation for serious violations, and give employers time to respond to the notice. However, under the new law, the agency can issue citations for serious violations related to COVID-19 without giving employers the 15-day notice period or the opportunity to address the claims before the citation is issued.

PPE Supply Requirements for Acute Care Hospitals (AB 2537):
Effective January 1, 2021, acute care hospitals are required to give their employees appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) if they provide direct patient care or provide services that directly support patient care.  The hospital must ensure that employees use the PPE supplied to them.  Beginning April 1, 2021, acute care hospitals must maintain a three-month stockpile of new, unexpired, unused PPE as specified in the statute.  Upon request from Cal/OSHA, the hospital must provide an inventory of its PPE stockpile and a copy of its written procedures for periodically determining the quantity and types of PPE used in normal consumption at the hospital.  An acute care hospital that violates the requirement to maintain a three-month PPE supply could face monetary penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.   

Expansion of CFRA Coverage (SB 1383):
The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to qualifying employees to care for themselves or certain family members due to a serious health condition. Previously, the CFRA covered employers with 50 or more employees. Effective January 1, 2021, CFRA coverage was expanded to employers with five or more employees. To be eligible for CFRA leave, an employee must have at least 12 months of service with the employer and at least 1,250 hours of service during the previous 12-month period before the start of the leave. The new law also expands the categories of family members for which leave can be taken, and now includes family leave for grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and adult children.  

For more information on COVID-19 employment issues, you may contact the Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or 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 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.

Lisa Mak to Serve as 2021 Vice President/President-Elect of Asian American Bar Association

Lisa Mak to Serve as 2021 Vice President/President-Elect of Asian American Bar Association

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak was elected Vice President/President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation and one of the largest minority bar associations in California. Lisa’s election was recently announced to the AABA membership. She will begin her term as President in 2022.

Lisa will be the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as President of AABA. She served as Treasurer this year after serving as Secretary in 2019.

Lisa continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Choo also serve on the AABA Board. 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. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. 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.

A deep commitment to our communities and diversity issues guides Lisa’s service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and for the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She is actively involved in the California Employment Lawyers Association (“CELA”) and serves on the Board of CELA’s foundation. Lisa is also a past board member of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Lisa is an Associate in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group. Her practice includes employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, contract claims, and labor code violations. She is experienced in litigation, from pre-litigation negotiations to trials and appeals. She also advises employees on employment contracts and severance agreements. She writes frequently about social justice and workplace equality issues, and her work has been published in Plaintiff Magazine and on the CELA Voice blog.

Lisa has served as trial counsel in multiple trials involving a wide variety of employment disputes in state and federal court. In 2016, she was co-lead counsel on a five-week jury trial which resulted in a $3.5 million total verdict for four female officers at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The verdict was listed in the LexisNexis “Top 10 Employment Verdicts” for 2016 and was recognized by Leaders in the Law in its “Northern California’s Leading Lawyers” 2017 publication.

She was selected as a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2015-2020, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. In 2017, Lisa was honored with the Legal Advocate Award from the Center for Workers’ Rights and with a civil rights award from the Equal Justice Society.

Lisa graduated from UC San Diego summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Minami Tamaki LLP Lisa Mak AABA President 2022
Minami Tamaki LLP Announces Retirement of Partner Minette Kwok and Transition of Donald Tamaki to Senior Counsel

Minami Tamaki LLP Announces Retirement of Partner Minette Kwok and Transition of Donald Tamaki to Senior Counsel

Minami Tamaki LLP today announced that Partner Minette A. Kwok will retire from the firm and that Managing Partner Donald K. Tamaki will transition into a Senior Counsel position, both effective on January 1, 2021.

Minette has led Minami Tamaki LLP’s immigration law practice for more than two decades, growing it into an award-winning and successful practice nationally recognized and ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

“Minette developed a solid team of stellar, hardworking professionals and nurtured a firm culture promoting collegiality, collaboration, and mutual respect,” said Don Tamaki who worked with Minette since she joined the firm in 1990 as the first woman Partner. “She built an immigration law practice with superb clients, including numerous technology leaders, and dedicated countless hours to the nation’s immigration bar and to community organizations. Minette is an inspiration to all attorneys.” 

Minette’s achievements during her 30-year career include recognized leadership in AILA, numerous awards and recognition for legal excellence, and years of service on nonprofit boards and pro bono work.

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California Employers Must Have Written COVID-19 Prevention Plan Under New Workplace Safety Rules

California Employers Must Have Written COVID-19 Prevention Plan Under New Workplace Safety Rules

On November 19, 2020, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted emergency temporary standards to protect workers from hazards related to the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Under the new regulations, employers must have a written COVID-19 Prevention Plan that addresses: 

  • Systems for communicating information to employees about COVID-19 prevention procedures, testing, symptoms and illnesses, including a system for employees to report exposures without fear of retaliation;
  • Identification and evaluation of identifying workplace conditions and practices that could result in potential exposure;
  • Investigating and responding to cases in the workplace, including providing notice about potential exposures and offering testing to workers who may have been exposed;
  • Correcting unsafe conditions and work practices;
  • Implementing procedures to ensure workers stay at least six feet apart from other people;
  • Providing face coverings and ensuring they are worn;
  • Adopting changes to the workplace and work schedules to reduce exposure to the virus;
  • Positive COVID-19 case and illness recording requirements;
  • Removal of COVID-19 exposed and positive workers from the workplace with measures to protect pay and benefits;
  • Criteria for employees to return to work after recovering from COVID-19;
  • Requirements for testing and notifying public health departments of workplace outbreaks (three or more cases in a workplace in a 14-day period) and major outbreaks (20 or more cases within a 30-day period); and
  • Infection prevention in employer-provided housing and transportation to and from work.

The emergency standards will be in effect immediately if approved by the Office of Administrative Law in the next 10 calendar days.  The temporary standards do not apply to workers already covered by Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases standard, which protects healthcare and other workers from airborne and droplet transmitted diseases. 

The Cal-OSHA Training Academy has made materials available at its website for companies and workers to help comply with the regulations.

For more information on COVID-19 safety requirements for California businesses, you may contact Minami Tamaki Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force members Sean Tamura-Sato, Lisa Mak, or 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 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.

Minami Tamaki LLP Ranked on U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ List for 7th Year

Minami Tamaki LLP Ranked on U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ List for 7th Year

Minami Tamaki LLP’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice is nationally ranked again on the new 2021 U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list just released today. The firm’s immigration practice received a National Tier 3 ranking for the second time, and a Metro Tier 1 ranking for the sixth consecutive year.

U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” recognized the firm’s Personal Injury practice as Metro Tier 1 for the seventh consecutive year.

Firms like Minami Tamaki LLP included in the 2021 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must first have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, which recognizes the top five percent of private practicing lawyers in the United States. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Earlier this year, The Best Lawyers in America recognized Partners Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Associate Seema Bhatt, which 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. Partner Minette A. Kwok leads the firm’s immigration practice group, which includes Partner Olivia Serene Lee, Partner Suhi Koizumi, Senior Associate La Verne A. Ramsay, Senior Associate Angela C. Mapa, and Associates Dian Sohn, Judy Hinh Wong, and Leyla Mostafavi.

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 their clients. Senior Counsel Dale Minami founded the firm’s personal injury practice, which is led by Partner B. Mark Fong and includes Associate Seema Bhatt.

Dale Minami, Don Tamaki Featured in New HBO Documentary ‘The Soul of America’

Dale Minami, Don Tamaki Featured in New HBO Documentary ‘The Soul of America’

“The Soul of America,” a new HBO documentary includes brief interviews with Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Donald Tamaki and Senior Counsel Dale Minami. The film examines our current fraught political reality by exploring historical challenges of the past.

The women’s suffrage movement, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and the struggle to pass Civil Rights legislation in the 1960s were all instances in which “our better angels” battled against the forces of hatred and division that are recurring themes in American life.

Focusing on pivotal moments in our history that reflect America’s longstanding struggles with racism, sexism and xenophobia, the film demonstrates how we continue to confront animosity in American politics, economic anxiety, isolationist and nativist tendencies and conspiracy theories. Helping us to better understand the parallels between current events and their historical antecedents, “The Soul of America” ultimately gives hope that the lessons of the past may bring the nation closer to achieving its democratic ideals.

Don and Dale help lead the Stop Repeating History campaign, which has spent the past four years educating the public on the dangers of unchecked presidential power.

“The Soul of America” debuted on HBO and HBO Max this week and is available on demand. The documentary follows writer, journalist, historian and prolific presidential biographer Jon Meacham as he offers his timely and invaluable insights into the United States’ current political and historical moment by examining its past.

Based on Meacham’s 2018 bestseller, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels and produced by Kunhardt Films (Emmy® winner for HBO’s “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality”), the film also chronicles Meacham’s life and career as a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian as he shares his insights into America’s past and present.

Part political documentary, part biography, the film interweaves archival material and interviews with Meacham along with insights from journalists, academics and civil rights activists.

In addition to brief remarks from Don and Dale, the film features insights from actor and activist George Takei; historian and author Lisa Tetrault; entrepreneur and nonprofit leader Keith Smythe Meacham; journalist and author Evan Thomas; civil rights activist Janice Wesley Kelsey; U.S. Representative and civil rights activist John Lewis, who passed away on July 17, 2020; and others.

Watch “The Soul of America” on HBO or on the HBO Max streaming service.