Blog : Personal Injury

Mark Fong to Take Senior Counsel Position at Minami Tamaki LLP

Mark Fong to Take Senior Counsel Position at Minami Tamaki LLP

Minami Tamaki LLP today announced that Partner B. Mark Fong will transition to a Senior Counsel position, effective January 1, 2024.

Mark has led Minami Tamaki LLP’s personal injury practice since 2019 after Dale Minami transitioned to a Senior Counsel position. He became a Partner in 2014 after joining the firm in 2006.

As the Partner in charge of the firm’s personal injury practice, Mark has worked together with attorneys Seema Bhatt and Ember J. Oparowski to continue the practice’s success in fighting for the rights of people who are injured or suffered the loss of loved ones due to the carelessness of others.

“Mark played a critical role as a bridge between the new generation of firm leadership and the founding Partners,” said Dale Minami. “When Don Tamaki, Minette Kwok, Jack Lee, Brad Yamauchi, and I planned our transitions, we depended on Mark to provide the firm with the institutional knowledge critical to serving our clients and continuing our tradition of community service.”

Dale continued: “Mark became a dynamic and effective leader of our Personal Injury Practice Group, who expanded the capacity of our group far beyond my tenure and achieved great victories for our clients. We were lucky to have him join our firm years ago!”

After January 1, 2024, Mark will continue to provide his expertise on personal injury cases alongside Senior Counsel Dale Minami, Senior Associate Seema Bhatt, and Associate Ember J. Oparowski, with Managing Partner Sean Tamura-Sato as the practice head of litigation. In addition to his trial work, Mark will continue to help guide Minami Tamaki’s involvement in the community, work on business development, and advise other attorneys on cases.

Recognized as one of the top personal injury lawyers in the Bay Area, Mark was a finalist for “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association in 2019 and made the Northern California Super Lawyer list for 12 years as well as the Top 100 list in 2015 and 2016.

The Personal Injury practice group received a Tier 1 ranking in the 2015 through 2022 Editions of U.S. News-Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” under the category of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs for the San Francisco metro area.

Mark’s cases were recognized by Top Verdict’s Top 50 and Top 100 Settlements in California in 2016, and by Leaders in the Law in its “Northern California’s Leading Lawyers” 2017 publication.

Mark is a Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), one of the most prominent organizations of trial attorneys in the country, whose members are selected by invitation only upon demonstration of significant jury trial experience. He is also a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Mark has been rated “AV Preeminent” by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for the past three decades, signifying the highest level of legal ability and professional standards of ethics.

Mark is a third-generation San Franciscan with roots in Chinatown and has spent much of his life giving back to the community he grew up in. For more than a decade he has served on the board or committees of Chinatown Community Development Center, and for six years on the board at Donaldina Cameron House. He also served on the board of Town School for Boys, of which he is an alumnus.

Mark received his B.A. in Political Science with high honors in 1978 from the University of California Berkeley, and his J.D. from UC Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings ) in 1981. Mark was admitted to the California Bar in 1981 and is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.

$925,000 Settlement in Department Store Injury

$925,000 Settlement in Department Store Injury

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Associate Seema Bhatt and Associate Ember Oparowski demonstrated exceptional legal acumen in securing a $925,000 settlement for our client who suffered a crush injury to her foot at a department store in Petaluma.

The case presented significant challenges: there were no eyewitnesses and the defense strongly contested the circumstances of the incident as well as the extent of injuries.

Undeterred, our team employed a strategic approach. Despite the initial lack of evidence, we uncovered crucial information by conducting a thorough investigation. We found former employees who revealed the décor item that caused the injury was improperly placed in violation of store policy and created a falling hazard when jostled by customers, which is what we believe happened to our client.

We also enlisted the expertise of seven medical specialists to meet the defense’s claim that our client had no objective injury. An EMG (nerve) test conducted by a renowned doctor revealed nerve damage in the client’s foot. Furthermore, our vocational rehabilitation and functional capacity experts provided compelling evidence that our client’s injury significantly impacted her ability to re-enter the workforce, even at a desk job.

Our thorough and multifaceted approach culminated in a $925,000 settlement two weeks before the trial. This outcome vindicates our client’s claim and underscores our firm’s dedication to uncovering the truth and advocating for our clients in even the most challenging cases.

Ember Oparowski Published Case on COVID-related Delays

Ember Oparowski Published Case on COVID-related Delays

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Ember Oparowski was the lead attorney for the defendant in a case that resulted in the only published case on COVID delays and a plaintiff’s diligence in prosecuting cases within the statutory five-year period mandated by Code of Civil Procedure section 583.310.

Ember defended a stucco contractor in a high-end construction defect case. The plaintiff homeowners refused to provide dates for deposition, meaningfully participate in mediation, provide responses to written discovery, and created numerous obstacles in advance of trial.

Ember drafted and argued a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Prosecute the case. Her motion was granted and the case was dismissed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment and ordered the opinion published.

Although this appellate decision stands for a fairly discrete legal issue, it is believed to be the only published case on COVID delays and a plaintiff’s lack of diligence in prosecuting cases within the statutory five-year period. The case demonstrates Ember’s dogged representation of her clients and the use of creative legal strategies to obtain a favorable result.

$3.85 Million Settlement for Injured Cyclist

$3.85 Million Settlement for Injured Cyclist

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner B. Mark Fong and Senior Associate Seema Bhatt recovered a $3.85 million dollar settlement for a 52-year-old cyclist who was struck by a car while riding to his job as an aircraft cleaner at San Francisco International Airport.

The initial facts of the case were unfavorable. Based on witness statements the police concluded our client ran the red light, causing him to be struck by the defendant, a Canadian citizen driving a rental car. Our client also tested positive for methamphetamine at the hospital.

Through tenacious investigation, we were able to obtain security video from the airport that showed our client entered the intersection on a green light, and the driver struck him before he had a chance to clear it. Based on this, the police prepared an amended report which found the driver at fault for the crash. We also argued the drug in our client’s system did not cause the driver to run the red light.

Our client suffered significant orthopedic injuries and bleeding on his brain in the crash. His case was further complicated when he suffered a stroke two years after the crash, which could have been caused by his methamphetamine use. At mediation, Mark and Seema obtained a settlement of $3.85 million dollars for the client, which will allow him to fulfill his dream of reuniting his family in the United States.

Minami Tamaki LLP Ranked on ‘Best Law Firms’ for 10th Year

Minami Tamaki LLP Ranked on ‘Best Law Firms’ for 10th Year

Best Lawyers today announced that Minami Tamaki LLP is again ranked on its “Best Law Firms” list. This is the 10th year that the firm has been recognized with this distinction.

The firm’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice received a National Tier 2 ranking, the fifth year of being nationally ranked. The practice ranked Metro Tier 1 for the ninth consecutive year. The firm’s Personal Injury practice ranked as Metro Tier 1 for the 10th consecutive year.

The 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 2024 ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer recognized in the 14th edition of The Best Lawyers in America list for that particular location and specialty.

Earlier this year, Best Lawyers in America recognized nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2024 edition. Partners Sean Tamura-Sato, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associates La Verne A. Ramsay and Angela Mapa made the Best Lawyers list. Senior Associate Seema Bhatt and Associate Lisa P. Mak were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch.

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, David Palmer, and Julia Pilkington.

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.

Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Other Coram Nobis Legal Team Members Honored at Korematsu Institute Event on 40th Anniversary of Cases

Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, Other Coram Nobis Legal Team Members Honored at Korematsu Institute Event on 40th Anniversary of Cases

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsels Dale Minami and Don Tamaki and other members of the legal teams representing Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui were honored on October 21, 2023, in San Francisco at an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the coram nobis cases that overturned their World War II convictions for defying the round-up of more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry.

(L-R): Peter Irons, Dale Minami, Prof. Eric Yamamoto, Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel (seated), Neal Katyal, Dr. Karen Korematsu, Hon. Mary Schroeder. Photo by Bob Hsiang

Thirty-seven years after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the mass incarceration, secret Justice Department, Naval, FBI, and FCC intelligence reports surfaced, characterizing the Army’s claims that Japanese Americans were spying as “intentional falsehoods,” and admitting that Japanese Americans had committed no wrong and posed no threat. Despite whistleblowers urging the Solicitor General and the Attorney General that the Justice Department had a duty to disclose this evidence and not to lie to the Court, the evidence was altered, suppressed, and in one instance burned, in order to manipulate the outcome of these landmark decisions.

In 1983, the coram nobis petitions on behalf of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui laid bare this fraud on the Court and resulted in the overturning of their criminal convictions. These landmark legal battles vindicated Japanese Americans and boosted their reparations movement by revealing not only that the mass racial round-up was wrong, but that the government knew it at the time.

(L-R): Prof. Eric Yamamoto, Dale Minami, Don Tamaki. Photo by Ember Oparowski.

The program featured a keynote by former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, Neal Katyal, who also received the Fred Korematsu Social Justice Award. The Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel and the Hon. Mary Schroeder participated in a fireside chat with the Hon. Ed Chen, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and a member of the Korematsu legal team.

(L-R) Dale Minami, the Hon. Marilyn Hall Patel, and Dr. Karen Korematsu. Photo by Bob Hsiang

Judge Patel and Justice Schroeder issued the judgments that overturned the convictions of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi in their respective cases. Their courageous and brilliant decisions stand as a warning to the nation of the civil liberties disaster that can result when racism shouts louder than the Constitution.  

Minami Tamaki LLP was proud to be a sponsor of this special event.

Dale Minami Honored with Japan Foreign Minister’s Commendation

Dale Minami Honored with Japan Foreign Minister’s Commendation

The Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs bestowed a Foreign Minister’s Commendation on Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami, one of only 150 individuals outside of Japan to be honored in 2023.

The Foreign Minister’s Commendations are awarded by the Foreign Minister of Japan to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in international fields, in order to acknowledge their contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries and areas. The Commendations also aim to promote the understanding and support of the Japanese public for the activities of the recipients.

The Commendation was awarded to Dale for his contributions to the status of Japanese Americans, according to a representative of the agency. Among his numerous accomplishments, Dale was part of the legal team that successfully overturned Fred Korematsu’s conviction in Korematsu v. U.S. and was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Chair of the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund in 1996.

Dale joins firm Senior Counsel and former Managing Partner Donald K. Tamaki in being honored with this distinction. In November 2019, the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Don with a Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his dedication to “preserving and promoting Japanese culture in San Francisco.” Don was also part of the Korematsu legal team and since 2006 has served as President of the San Francisco Japantown Foundation board of directors.

Mark Fong and the Story Behind the Skrillex Case on The Legal MD Podcast

Mark Fong and the Story Behind the Skrillex Case on The Legal MD Podcast

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Mark Fong and Emergent LLP Partner Seth Rosenberg appeared on the August 22, 2023, episode of The Legal MD Podcast to reveal details behind their successful lawsuit against DJ and producer Skrillex on behalf of their client Jennifer Fraissl.

The Legal MD Podcast host Dr. David Grundy is a renowned medical legal consultant with years of experience in clinical practice and forensic medicine. Together with host Sydney Delaney, Dr. Grundy brings insightful discussions and analysis on the intersection of medicine and law.

A Los Angeles jury on November 20, 2018, awarded Ms. Fraissl $4.5 million in damages against Skrillex (real name Sonny John Moore), his touring company, Lost Boys Touring Company, Inc., and the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles. It was the first successful jury award in a case involving injuries resulting from a performer’s crowd dive.

The San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association named Mark and Seth as one of four finalists for the 2019 Trial Lawyer of the Year award for their work in obtaining compensation for Ms. Fraissl.

From the podcast episode’s show notes:

In this episode,  we chat with San Francisco legal giants Seth Rosenberg and Mark Fong, who recently nabbed a colossal $4.5 million victory for Jennifer Fraissl, injured during an EDM concert by the famous artist and Coachella headliner Skrillex (Sonny John Moore). Seth and Mark dissect the intricate details of this five-year legal rollercoaster, shedding light on the complex medical and legal hurdles they navigated. They open up about the defining moments where they pushed back against rival counsel’s claims, expertly neutralized their expert’s testimonies, and painstakingly untangled the knotty threads of this case.

We step into the murky waters of proving medical probability of injury from the defendant with Seth and Mark. They share how they outfoxed the rival expert witnesses, and how their savvy analysis of a crucially relevant Disneyland case tipped the scales in their favor. Unraveling the minute details from video footage, and arguing from the famous 1928 precedent of Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, they demolished the argument that since Skrillex had not directly struck Jennifer he was not responsible for her harm. 

As we reach the end of this engrossing journey, Seth and Mark lay bare the specifics of the legal battle involving Skrillex. They scrutinize the strategies that worked, the challenges they faced, and the broader implications of stage diving and safety protocols in the entertainment industry. 

Listen to the podcast here.

Nine Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2024 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ Lists

Nine Minami Tamaki LLP Attorneys Named to 2024 ‘The Best Lawyers in America’ Lists

The Best Lawyers in America recognized nine Minami Tamaki LLP attorneys in its 2024 edition. Partners Sean Tamura-Sato, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associates La Verne A. Ramsay and Angela Mapa made the Best Lawyers list. Senior Associate Seema Bhatt and Associate Lisa P. Mak were selected for Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch.

Dale, Mark, and Seema are part of the firm’s Personal Injury practice group. Best Lawyers has recognized one or more of the firm’s personal injury attorneys for the past 11 years.

Suhi, Olivia, La Verne, and Angela are part of the firm’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice group. Best Lawyers has recognized one or more of the firm’s immigration attorneys for the past seven years.

Sean and Lisa are part of the firm’s Consumer and Employee Rights practice group. Best Lawyers has recognized one or more of the firm’s consumer and employee rights attorneys for the past three years.

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.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the Best Lawyers Best Law Firms list, which is announced in November. The firm has been recognized nine 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.