Blog : Minami Tamaki Newsletter Fall 2010

Minami Tamaki Recovers $5 Million for Elderly Grandmother Run Over in Crosswalk

Minami Tamaki Recovers $5 Million for Elderly Grandmother Run Over in Crosswalk

Jane D (fictitious name), a 75-year-old mother of five children and grandmother of 10, was returning home from her morning walk when she was struck by a commercial vehicle in 2009 on a busy San Francisco intersection. She suffered serious injuries that crushed her pelvis and eventually required amputation of her left leg.

Partner Dale Minami, Senior Counsel Mark Fong, Senior Associate Seth Rosenberg and Associate Eunice Yang obtained a $5 Million settlement for Jane at mediation.

Jane had walked three to five steps into the crosswalk when the driver, John R. (also fictitious name), struck her while making a right turn in his company-owned vehicle. Because the driver claimed he never saw her, Jane was dragged for six feet after she was hit, leaving a trail of bloody tissue on the street.

When the truck finally came to a halt, Jane had suffered de-gloving injuries to both legs, multiple foot, leg and pelvic fractures, and extensive abdominal injuries. She was transported to San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition.

Jane sued the truck driver, John R., for motor vehicle negligence, and John’s employer for negligent hiring, training and supervision of their driver.

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Minami Tamaki Achieves $3.7 Million Settlement in Class Action Against Census Bureau

data_collection_05_00-56-9In September, Minami Tamaki Partner Jack W. Lee and Senior Associate Bethany Caracuzzo finalized a $3.7 million settlement with the U.S. government in a wage and hour class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 2,000 plaintiffs in 17 states against the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The lawsuit alleged that the Census Bureau violated federal law by consciously refusing to pay overtime wages to temporary census employees who worked on the Year 2000 Census.

Census administrators “were targeting a very vulnerable population here – people who are students, retired, homemakers – hoping those groups of people who were temporary employees” wouldn’t raise a fuss, said Lee in a 2001 interview with AsianWeek. Census supervisors “were trying to cross their fingers and hope that no one would notice.”

Some Census supervisors demanded that employees accomplish tasks in “whatever” time it took, requiring or allowing staff to work more than 40 hours a week.

“These people who went out and did counting door-to-door, … they had guns pointed at them, had dogs chasing them (and) had their cars break down on desert roads, just to get their jobs done,” said plaintiff Kent Christofferson, a 20-year Navy veteran who signed on as a field operations supervisor with the Year 2000 Census and was the lead plaintiff.

Census administrators “were trying to save money, because the less they spent, the better they looked,” Christofferson said in an interview with AsianWeek. “The money was available. They could have used it at any time, but they chose not to. … When you have people pushing hours and everything, you don’t need to.”

With the Census 2010 counting completed earlier this year, Lee hopes that the lawsuit helped change the way the Census Bureau managed this year’s temporary workers.

“The goal of the lawsuit was not only to obtain the wages owed the plaintiffs from the 2000 Census, but to also ensure that future Census workers would not have to go through the same injustice,” said Lee.

Historic Fred Korematsu Day to be Celebrated on January 30, 2011

Fred Korematsu. Photo by Lia Chang.

In October, Partners Dale Minami and Don Tamaki joined the family of Fred T. Korematsu and other supporters at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles to celebrate the enactment of Fred Korematsu Day in California.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in September signed into law Assembly Bill 1775, establishing January 30 as Fred Korematsu Day, the first time in United States history a day has been named after an Asian American.

The first Fred Korematsu Day will be celebrated January 30, 2011, on Fred Korematsu’s birthday. The Korematsu Institute, launched last year by the Asian Law Caucus in partnership with the Korematsu family, plans to roll out curriculum in K-12 schools that week and on all future Korematsu Days.

The bill, authored by Assemblymembers Warren T. Furutani and Marty Block, honors Korematsu, a man who became a civil rights icon for defying the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

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Minami Tamaki Obtains Significant Win for Injured Motorcyclist and for Plaintiffs’ Rights to Collect Full Medical Expenses

Seth RosenbergMinami Tamaki Senior Associate Seth I. Rosenberg recently obtained a personal injury judgment for a motorcycle enthusiast involved in a crash in November 2006. Rosenberg obtained a verdict of $189,961.02 and costs of $24,355.74 in Alameda County (Goode v. Crockett).

Rosenberg’s understanding of the “Rules of the Road” and the trauma and pain that serious motorcycle accidents cause has helped him successfully represent many motorcycle riders and injured motorists in their claims against negligent automobile drivers.

Since 1998, motorcycle accidents and deaths have been increasing. Forty percent of deaths are the result of an automobile or truck turning left in front of motorcyclists, according to recent research of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Automobile driver distractions, along with other potential factors, contribute to the increasing rate of motor vehicle riders’ crippling injuries and fatalities.

Rosenberg represented Don Goode, a 39-year-old fermentation specialist who was riding his motorcycle on Seminary Avenue with a green light into the intersection of Camden and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland, California. After Goode entered the intersection the defendant, driving his Cadillac CTS on MacArthur Blvd., darted out against a red light, causing Goode to strike the side of his car.

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Minami Tamaki Hosts Asian Pacific American Students from Berkeley Law

More than 30 members of the UC Berkeley Law School’s Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and the Asian American Law Journal gathered at Minami Tamaki LLP on October 27 for a fun and inspirational evening.

The law students had the opportunity to meet and mingle with Partners Don Tamaki, Dale Minami, Jack Lee, and Associates Eunice Yang and Sean Tamura-Sato. Over food and wine, the Minami Tamaki attorneys provided words of advice and encouragement, drawing upon their varied experiences and career paths.

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San Mateo Bar Association Diversity Committee Honors Dale Minami

Dale Minami at San Mateo Bar Association Diversity CommitteeThe San Mateo Bar Association Diversity Committee honored Partner Dale Minami and California Supreme Court Associate Justice Kathryn M. Werdegar at its annual event on Sept. 20 at the Old Historic Courthouse in Redwood City, Calif.

The Bar Association’s Diversity Committee works with local public schools, colleges, and law schools to encourage a diverse base of students to become attorneys who will ultimately practice in San Mateo County.

Minami provided insight into his career devoted to civil rights issues, including the overturning of Fred Korematsu’s criminal conviction for defying the internment of American citizens in Korematsu v. United States. In his remarks, Minami shared how, early in his career, there were few Asian American judges or even attorneys, and related anecdotes from his personal experience regarding inappropriate conduct by judges and attorneys.

Minami shared his experiences through his career of successfully advocating for the appointment of judges who more accurately reflect the communities in which they sit.

“He was both captivating and motivating,” wrote W. George Wailes, president of the San Mateo Bar Association, in the Bar’s newsletter.

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Staff News and Updates

Minami Tamaki and Associate Lisa Charbonneau Honored by LGBT Organization for Pro Bono Efforts

Lisa CharbonneauMinami Tamaki LLP was honored on Oct. 22 along with National Center for Lesbian Rights (“NCLR”) Legal Director Shannon Minter, California State Senator Mark Leno, San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center as heroes and partners of the Transgender Law Center (TLC), a San Francisco civil rights organization founded in 2002 by NCLR.

Minami Tamaki LLP was recognized for its history of legal advocacy on behalf of people of color in California, as well as for the pro bono work of Minami Tamaki associate Lisa Charbonneau in securing a settlement for a low-wage employee in a case involving novel legal issues under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Charbonneau worked with TLC staff attorneys to effectuate the best settlement terms for the client, who plans to use the settlement monies to enroll in a library sciences program.

Associate Lisa Charbonneau Joins Board of FAIR Foundation

Minami Tamaki associate Lisa Charbonneau was recently selected to join the board of directors of the Foundation for Advocacy, Inclusion, and Resources (FAIR), an organization created by the California Employment Lawyers Association. FAIR’s mission is to raise public consciousness about worker’s rights and remedies, and carry on other educational activities associated with this goal as allowed by law.

Charbonneau also joins the Selection Committee of FAIR’s Employee Justice Fellowship program, which encourages diverse law students to become plaintiff-side labor and employment attorneys.