Blog : Personal Injury

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2020 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2020 Super Lawyers

TOP ROW (L-R): Donald K. Tamaki*; Minette A. Kwok*; Dale Minami* Top 100; B. Mark Fong*; Olivia Serene Lee**; MIDDLE ROW (L-R): Lisa P. Mak**; Seema Bhatt**; Suhi Koizumi*; Sean Tamura-Sato**; La Verne A. Ramsay; BOTTOM ROW (L-R): Dian Sohn; Angela C. Mapa; Claire Y. Choo; Judy Hinh Wong; Leyla Mostafavi – *Chosen to 2020 Super Lawyers **Chosen to 2020 Rising Stars 

We’re proud to announce that nine of Minami Tamaki LLP’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2020. Two of our Partners and our Senior Counsel have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 17 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY 
Dale Minami (Top 10, 2013-2018; Top 100, 2007-2020; Super Lawyers, 17 years) 
B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 11 years) 
Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars, 4 years) 

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW 
Minette A. Kwok (Top 50 Women Northern California, 2014-2016; Super Lawyers, 17 years) 
Olivia Serene Lee (Rising Stars, 7 years) 
Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers, 2 years; Rising Star, 8 years) 

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS 
Sean Tamura-Sato (Rising Stars, 8 years) 
Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars, 6 years) 

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT 
Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 17 years) 

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is independent, and attorneys cannot purchase placements on the list.

New in ABA Journal Character Witness series: ‘A Life of Fighting Injustice’

New in ABA Journal Character Witness series: ‘A Life of Fighting Injustice’

The ABA Journal Character Witness series explores legal and societal issues through the first-person lens of attorneys in the trenches who are, inter alia, on a mission to defend liberty and pursue justice. The latest installment is “A life of fighting injustice“.

BY DALE MINAMI

I am a third-generation Japanese American. My grandparents emigrated from Southern Japan in the early 1900s seeking “streets of gold” and fleeing deteriorating conditions in their home country. My parents were born in California, citizens by birth. But they were incarcerated with their families during World War II, solely because of their ancestry: first in fetid horse stalls, and later in dismal prisons in the Arkansas swamplands. I was born at the Japanese Hospital in East Los Angeles, the only hospital that admitted Japanese doctors then. My father was a farmer, a gardener and the owner of a small sporting goods store. My mother worked there and at home. I have two older brothers who taught me lessons involving books, sports and unwanted violence upon my person—all valuable lessons later in life.

My parents rarely talked about their degrading incarceration experience, but by their example I was taught to honor the Founding Fathers’ prescription that all Americans are created equal and should be treated accordingly. But watching the civil rights movement unfold on television in the early 1960s, when peaceful African American demonstrators were attacked by vicious dogs and water cannons just because they wanted to eat at a restaurant, utterly confused me. As did the Watts rebellion in 1965—witnessing Los Angeles seemingly burning down, ignited by the frustrations of African Americans whose “American dream” was really a nightmare.

Year of unrest

I could not reconcile the elegant rhetoric of the American promise with such appalling events and with the subtle racism I experienced at the University of Southern California. I graduated in political science with no marketable skills besides selling Converse athletic shoes. My best option was to attend law school. So in 1968, I stepped onto the Berkeley Law campus, where virtually every day produced a new protest or demonstration accompanied by the sting of tear gas. To me, it was the epicenter of our (boomers) generation’s coming of age in such turbulent times. In that year, milestone events erupted—student protests around the world, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, black-gloved fists raised by Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico City Olympics protesting racism in the USA, the Democratic National Convention riots, bloody anti-Vietnam War protests against a meaningless conflict, and perhaps the most influential event for me—the Third World Liberation Front strike at San Francisco State University challenging the narrative of history that minimized and distorted the stories, cultures, contributions and characters of people of color.

I was drawn to issues of injustice, and I only later realized how my passion and outrage was formed by my experiences at USC and the urgency of a life-and-death mandate to fight in Vietnam. Perhaps the greatest influence on my perspective was personal—the unjust banishment and imprisonment of my family and 120,000 other Japanese Americans in violation of their Constitutional rights to an attorney, a trial or notice of criminal charges, all justified by a vague and unsupported claim of “military necessity.” The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of my family’s exile in Korematsu v. United States. The law had failed my community.

By the miracle of relaxed grading, I graduated from Berkeley Law and passed the bar. A group of friends and I started a nonprofit community interest law firm, the Asian Law Caucus, dedicated to helping empower the Asian Pacific American community—a populace invisible to the rest of the country whose history, culture, problems and achievements were widely misunderstood or ignored.

We bonded with a fierce collective purpose to make the system responsive to our communities. The ALC unintentionally evolved into a nonprofit private law practice. We were inept at managing a law practice as a business: We focused so much on pro bono social justice causes that we ignored rent and bills!

Anxiety over our lack of practical skills became a nighttime companion, especially without day-to-day mentors. So every Wednesday, I would pack a lunch and hunker down in the law library to study practice books all day. I had to self-educate since I accepted virtually any civil or criminal case that walked through the door.

But besides our lack of experience and knowledge, we faced other daunting opponents—racist and hostile treatment by judges who used slurs or sarcastically asked me, a Japanese American, to translate for my Chinese-speaking client. We suffered through conferences and hearings where judges clearly favored nonminority opposing counsel. Many nights I returned home with my head on fire, outraged and angered. We realized that changing the composition of the bench was the best strategy. So we embarked on a campaign to transform the complexion and gender of the bench through lobbying governors, joining judicial applicant review committees, running candidates and developing contacts with influential allies. The lack of diversity, we realized, derived from lack of power. We have since made great progress, but there are miles to go before we sleep.

Seeking justice

We made a living, but I was most drawn to nonremunerative social justice cases—fighting for tenure for professor Don Nakanishi at UCLA; class action lawsuits against discriminatory police sweeps; lawsuits against systematic discrimination at a major insurance company; suing a university to implement an Asian American Studies program; and the overturning of Fred Korematsu’s 40-year-old conviction for his resistance to military orders banishing Japanese Americans.

Korematsu’s conviction during WWII was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1944 in a landmark and much-criticized decision justifying the exile of Japanese Americans. But the more dangerous precedent was the Supreme Court’s near-total deference to the fraudulent proof presented and later revealed in our case—that the government altered, suppressed and destroyed evidence contradicting the government’s claim of disloyalty and the danger of Japanese Americans.

We still hear the echoes of history today. And it is infuriating to see the demonization repeated against Muslims, Arabs, immigrants and marginalized groups. It is also disheartening to repeat the same deference to the president that was the centerpiece of the Korematsu case. Our campaign, Stop Repeating History (stoprepeatinghistory.org), hopes to remind America of the damage racism and unfettered power can wreak on disfavored people and on our nation’s soul.

Maybe the path I took was somewhat nonlinear. I was trying to navigate in a racialized society, harmonizing my love for this country with the cruelty it inflicted and admiring the rule of law but recognizing its limitations. In a midcareer crisis, I once questioned whether I should find another occupation. I lined up the qualities I wanted in a job, measured them against my strengths and weaknesses, and discovered that I was best fit to practice law with my partners who have the same passion for justice, hard work and great legal skills. I never had to look back.

This article appeared in the June/July 2020 issue of the ABA Journal under the headline: “A Life of Fighting Injustice.”

Seema Bhatt Selected for National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40

Seema Bhatt Selected for National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Seema Bhatt has been selected for The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40, a professional organization of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the age of 40.

Membership into The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to those trial lawyers practicing civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law.

Seema is part of Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Group, representing clients who have been injured through the negligence of others in auto accidents, slips and falls, pedestrian accidents, as a result of defective products and medical malpractice, and in other unfortunate situations.

Seema has also been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer Rising Star from 2017 to 2019. Several of her cases were recognized by Top Verdict’s Top 100 Settlements in California in 2016 and by Leaders in the Law in its 2017 “Northern California’s Leading Lawyers” publication.

U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” has recognized Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Group as Metro Tier 1 for six consecutive years.

The National Trial Lawyers says that its Top 40 under 40 membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state. Invitees must exemplify superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership as a young lawyer under the age of 40.

Selection to the Top 40 under 40 is based on a thorough multi-phase objective process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2020 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration Practice with New National Ranking and Personal Injury Practice with Tier 1 in Metro Area

U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ 2020 Recognizes Minami Tamaki’s Immigration Practice with New National Ranking and Personal Injury Practice with Tier 1 in Metro Area

Minami Tamaki LLP’s Immigration and Nationality Law practice is now nationally ranked on the new 2020 U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list, which was just released today.

The firm’s immigration practice received a National Tier 3 ranking for the first time, and a Metro Tier 1 ranking for the fifth consecutive year.

U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” recognized the firm’s personal injury practice as Metro Tier 1 for the sixth consecutive year.

The rankings 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.

To be eligible for a U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” ranking, a law firm must have at least one lawyer who is included in Best Lawyers in that particular practice area and metro.

Earlier this year, The Best Lawyers in America recognized Partners Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Suhi Koizumi, and Senior Counsel Dale Minami, 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 and Judy Hinh Wong.

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 of 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.

What to Do if You’re Injured by a Lyft or Uber Driver

What to Do if You’re Injured by a Lyft or Uber Driver

Our firm has represented many people who have been injured in accidents involving rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. Determining whose auto insurance covers you in such accidents, and how much money is available to compensate you for your injuries, requires an understanding of the law governing rideshare companies. Below is a summary of the current law. You should consult with an experienced lawyer to analyze your particular case. 

Passenger, Driver, Pedestrian, Motorcycle, And Bicycle Accidents Caused by Rideshare Drivers:

If you were a passenger, driver, pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist involved in an accident with a rideshare driver, and the rideshare driver was at fault for the accident, the insurance policy you should file a claim against will depend on the period in which the accident occurred. 

Period 0: If the rideshare driver’s rideshare app was off, you should file a claim with the rideshare driver’s personal auto insurance. Every driver of a motor vehicle in California must carry insurance coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. 

Period 1: If the rideshare driver’s app was on but the driver was not paired with a passenger, rideshare companies are required to provide insurance coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident, as well as $200,000 in excess insurance coverage.

Periods 2 and 3: If the rideshare driver was paired with a passenger (i.e. the driver was on the way to pick up the passenger or the passenger has entered the vehicle), rideshare companies must provide $1 million in coverage for death, personal injury, and property damage to the passenger.

To prove a rideshare driver was responsible for an accident, you must prove the driver was negligent (careless), and his negligence caused you injury. The driver could be held to a higher standard of care than an ordinary driver as a “common carrier,” based on recent trends in law. 

What Type Of Damages Can I Legally Recover?

You can recover as damages the cost of past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, past and future pain and suffering, and punitive damages for intentional, willful, or reckless conduct of the driver. 

What If My Rideshare Vehicle Got In An Accident Caused By Another Driver?

If you were a passenger in a rideshare vehicle which was in an accident caused by the driver of another vehicle, you should file a claim for compensation with the auto insurance for the other vehicle. Every driver of a motor vehicle is required to have insurance coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. 

If the driver who caused your accident did not have insurance, or did not have enough insurance to fully compensate you for your injuries , California Vehicle Code Section 5433 requires that rideshare companies carry $1 million in uninsured motorist (“UM”) and underinsured motorist (“UIM”) insurance for the accident. You are covered under the rideshare company’s insurance policy from the moment you enter the rideshare vehicle until the moment you exit the vehicle. Therefore, if the at-fault driver has no insurance, or insufficient insurance, to pay for your damages, you can file a UM or UIM claim with the rideshare company’s insurance company to recover damages.

In summary, if you were injured due to the negligence of an Uber or Lyft driver during a ride, it is likely you will be covered by the rideshare company’s 1 million dollar policy. However, it is important to consult an attorney with experience in handling personal injury claims against rideshare companies in order to maximize your recovery. 

Be aware that, under the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in California, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit, or you will lose your right to recover compensation for your injuries.

ABA Journal Profiles Dale Minami, Recipient of ABA Medal

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami, recently awarded the ABA Medal, was profiled by Lorelei Laird in the September-October 2019 issue of the ABA Journal, the flagship publication of the American Bar Association. Published monthly, it is read by more than half of the nation’s 1.1 million lawyers.

ABA Medal recipient Dale Minami built a career around inclusion and civil rights for Asian Americans

Dale Minami didn’t know what the ABA was for the first nine years of his legal career. Then, in 1981, an invitation came.

The ABA was hosting a national institute of minority lawyers in Washington, D.C., along with several affinity bar associations. Minami was invited to help hash out reforms within the profession to help attorneys of color and their clients. But the subtext—based on Minami’s recollections and contemporary coverage from the ABA Journal—was an apology for past discrimination and an appeal to minority lawyers to join forces with the association.

The event prompted Minami and others to form the first national bar association for Asian Pacific Americans. Though that effort failed, he says, it planted the seed for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which was founded in 1988.

“And now we have an organization that was inspired by the ABA, truthfully, in many ways,” says Minami, who practices at Minami Tamaki in San Francisco and has been an ABA member for some 30 years. “They set us on the road to forming an organization. They welcomed us.”

On Aug. 10, Minami received the ABA Medal—the association’s highest honor—because he has spent his career working toward exactly that type of inclusion. It will not be the first ABA award for the attorney, who is also a past recipient of the ABA’s Thurgood Marshall Award and Spirit of Excellence Award.

Though Minami’s law firm calls him senior counsel in personal injury law, he’s better known as one of the lawyers who helped overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, the Japanese American man whose name is on a notorious and widely repudiated U.S. Supreme Court case. With far less publicity, he’s also helped blaze trails for Asian Pacific Americans and other people of color.

“He has a powerful passion for social justice that drives him,” says friend and former law partner Mike Lee, a solo in San Francisco. “And he puts his efforts and time into addressing his passion for justice.”

Read the full article.

Podcast: ‘On The Road’ Interview with Dale Minami

Podcast: ‘On The Road’ Interview with Dale Minami

In a podcast recorded at the recent 2019 ABA Annual Meeting, “On The Road” host Michele Wong Krause interviews ABA Medal winner Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami on his legal career and passion for using the law to empower the Asian Pacific American community.

They talk about Dale’s most exceptional professional accomplishments, including his work to overturn the conviction in a 1942 case, Korematsu v. United States. They also discuss current issues of immigration, racism, and inequality, and Dale cautions lawmakers against repeating egregious mistakes of the past.

Five Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America 

Five Minami Tamaki Attorneys Recognized in 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America 

Minami Tamaki LLP Partners Minette Kwok, B. Mark Fong, Olivia Serene Lee, Senior Counsel Dale Minami, and Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 26th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Dale and Mark were selected for the list in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs. It is the seventh year in a row that they received this honor.

Minette, Olivia, and Suhi were selected for inclusion in the practice area of Immigration Law. It is Minette’s sixth and Olivia’s third consecutive time on The Best Lawyers in America list. This year is Suhi’s inaugural listing.

These individual awards qualify Minami Tamaki LLP for consideration by the U.S. News/Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” list. The firm has recognized five 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 is a respected peer review publication in the legal profession. Recognition in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.

The Best Lawyers lists of outstanding attorneys are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer review surveys in which tens of thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. If the votes for an attorney are positive enough for recognition in Best Lawyers, that attorney must maintain those votes in subsequent polls to remain in each edition.

Lawyers are not permitted to pay any fee to participate in or be recognized by Best Lawyers.

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2019 Super Lawyers

Minami Tamaki Attorneys Named to 2019 Super Lawyers

PHOTO BACK ROW (L-R): Kaa Bao Yang; Julia Macri; Donald K. Tamaki*; La Verne A. Ramsay; Dale Minami* Top 100; Lisa P. Mak**; Seema Bhatt**; Angela C. Mapa; Dian Sohn. FRONT ROW: Sean Tamura-Sato**; Olivia Serene Lee**; B. Mark Fong*; Minette A. Kwok*; Suhi Koizumi* (*2019 Super Lawyers) (**2019 Rising Stars)

We’re proud to announce that nine of Minami Tamaki LLP’s attorneys were selected as Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars for 2019. Two of our Partners and our Senior Counsel have been named Northern California Super Lawyers for the last 16 consecutive years.

PERSONAL INJURY
Partner B. Mark Fong (Super Lawyers, 10 years)
Senior Counsel Dale Minami (Top 10 (2013-2018), Top 100 (2007-2019), Super Lawyers, 16 years)
Associate Seema Bhatt (Rising Stars)

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW
Partner Minette A. Kwok (Top 50 Women (2007-2008, 2014-2016), Super Lawyers, 16 years)
Partner Olivia Serene Lee (Rising Stars)
Senior Associate Suhi Koizumi (Super Lawyers)

CONSUMER AND EMPLOYEE RIGHTS
Partner Sean Tamura-Sato (Rising Stars)
Associate Lisa P. Mak (Rising Stars)

CORPORATE/NONPROFIT
Partner Donald K. Tamaki (Super Lawyers, 16 years)

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is independent, and attorneys cannot purchase placements on the list.