Partner Brad Yamauchi (back row, second from left) and his wife, Diane Gunderson ( back row, left ), joined an Aug. 28 celebration of Nancy Pelosi’s 25 years of service in Congress. Brad is a board vice president of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), one of the organizational members of the event host committee. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (back row, second from right) was the first woman Speaker of the House.
Brad Yamauchi, a Partner at Minami Tamaki, and a member of the board of directors of the Japanese Community and Cultural Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) spoke on behalf of the firm at a volunteer appreciation luncheon held Dec. 3 for the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.
More than 100 volunteers attended and received updates on how over $4 million in contributions is being spent in Northern Japan over the long term. With connections to the YMCA organizations in Japan from the 1995 Kobe earthquake relief efforts, JCCCNC was able to immediately obtain and distribute emergency food and supplies to many affected areas through thousands of YMCA and other local volunteers.
The priorities are now shifting to longer term recovery assistance such as mental health programs, shelter assistance, sports equipment and art and educational supplies that help families to get back to normal lives and activities.
The Minami Tamaki law firm played an important role in this effort, sending out requests for donations and with a matching funds campaign raised almost $500,000 from more than 2,000 donors. Lynda Won-Chung and Dale Minami lead the effort with many hours of work by Brenda Jackson, Kim Nieves, Mami Malandra, Cristina Campos and Gail Lang.
The Minami Tamaki fundraising focused on making sure that a high percentage of the donations received were spent on direct services rather than administrative overhead, which JCCCNC accomplished. But the organization has also used about $200,000 of its fiscal reserves to pay for administration of the relief fundraising operations, and is now in need of donations to help offset those costs.
In his presentation, Brad emphasized that donors wanted to donate to organizations with integrity and experience to be confident that donations would be used wisely and effectively. In this regard, knowing that there were hundreds of volunteers helping existing JCCCNC staff to perform thousands of hours of relief work speaks volumes about the JCCCNC membership and its communty support. Donors can be proud of and trust in JCCCNC’s work and integrity.
JCCCNC organized two visits to Northern Japan since the March 11, 2011, tsunami. The most recent was in early November with Kristi Yamaguchi in collaboration with her Always Dream Foundation. That delegation provided a connection to actual beneficiaries of the the donated funds at several events in the loactions most devastated by the tsunami.
Because many fear the radioactivity, residents there face shunning and isolation, the delegation was one of very few that visited Fukushima, the site of the damaged nuclear power station. Paul Osaki, JCCCNC Executive Director, described a touching scene during this visit. A young Japanese girl came up to him, held his hand and with sad eyes looked up at his face for several minutes. Later he was told that her father had died from the tsunami and that he resembled him. Donations and the presence of those who care matters.
Our contributions, whether money or time, are needed for this relief effort and for so many other worthy causes. Thank you all for your contributions that make life better for those in need.
More than 20 current and former casino workers have filed two class action lawsuits charging that Club One Casino engaged in discrimination by segregating and reducing the hours of Hmong poker dealers, as well as firing its older employees. The Asian Pacific American Legal Center, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, in Los Angeles, and the law firm of Minami Tamaki LLP in San Francisco represent the workers in both lawsuits.
Club One Casino, which runs the biggest card room in central California, is one of the largest employers in Fresno, with more than 300 employees. In 2008, Club One was acquired by new management when Kyle Kirkland assumed control of Club One’s operations.
The class action lawsuits were filed Monday in Fresno Superior Court. Chang et al. v. Club One Casino was filed on behalf of 15 Asian workers alleging race and national origin discrimination, and Caglia et al. v. Club One Casino was filed on behalf of six older workers alleging age discrimination. The lawsuits allege that under Kirkland’s management, Club One sought to create a new image, one that excluded its Hmong and older workers even though many had been working at Club One for more than 10 years. Chang et al v. Club One Casino also alleges that the casino, as part of company-wide pattern of employment discrimination, targeted Hmong and other Asian employees with real or perceived accents.
You probably have read about “golden parachute” severance packages that pay millions of dollars to corporate executives, even when they are fired for poor performance or a scandal. Why is that? Can you get a severance package if you voluntarily or involuntarily leave your job?
I have negotiated severance packages for hundreds of clients in my 33-plus years of representing all types of employees, from hourly or low income workers to high income executives. This is a complex area of practice that requires a broad range of knowledge and negotiation skills.
To be effective, I must be familiar with all possible legal claims and damages, evaluate stock options and other types of compensation schemes, understand the economic situations of the company and the client, understand client goals, determine the motives of corporate management, HR and their attorneys, and have enough experience to know industry standards and expectations, among other considerations.
No two negotiations are the same. I need to be creative and assertive in giving the company a reason to offer my client a significant severance package that may include continuing pay and health benefits, a lump sum of cash, stock or stock options, retirement contributions, good references, purging negative records and/or work as an independent contractor. If a severance agreement is worked out, it requires that my client waive any and all legal claims (except workers compensation). Confidentiality and an agreement not to apply for jobs at that employer are also common terms in a severance agreement.
From left: Jack W. Lee; Minette Kwok, Dale Minami, Donald K. Tamaki, Lynda Won-Chung and Brad Yamauchi. Not pictured: Mark Fong and Derek G. Howard.
Each of the five partners at Minami Tamaki LLP has been named by Northern California Super Lawyers magazine as among the top attorneys for 2010 for the seventh straight year. All three of the senior counsel in the firm have also been named to the Super Lawyers distinction in 2010.
Only five percent of the lawyers in California are named by Super Lawyers. And few firms (if any) have the distinction of having all the partners of a firm named by Super Lawyers magazine for seven years in a row.
Partners Dale Minami (Personal Injury), Donald K. Tamaki (Corporate), Brad Yamauchi (Employment), Minette A. Kwok (Immigration), Jack W. Lee (Employment), and Senior Counsel Lynda Won-Chung (Immigration), Mark Fong (Personal Injury) and Derek G. Howard (Consumer Law) 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.
Minami was also selected as one of the Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers for the fifth year (2005, 2007-2010).
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.
On May 7, 2010, I attended the ceremony to dedicate the James P. McEntee, Sr. Plaza and its Legacy Art Project in the Santa Clara County Building at Hedding and First Street in San Jose. Many speakers reflecting the ethnic, religious, political and community diversity of California honored the man and his legacy. Jim brought disparate people together to talk and work toward mutual respect and human dignity. We again mourned his passing as we had at his memorial service in 2004, but then we celebrated his life in his Plaza within a forest of trees between the County buildings.
Jim McEntee was my first boss in my first attorney job in 1976. As the recently named Executive Director of the Santa Clara Co Human Relations Commission, he hired me and gave me free reign to investigate and resolve employment discrimination complaints and organize Commission hearings on varied subjects such as police violence in minority neighborhoods and racial segregation in school districts.
He allowed me to work with the Asian Law Alliance (ALA) as one of its founders and first licensed attorney. He was instrumental in securing County funding for ALA that continues to this day. At the ALA I represented indigent and low income Asians in divorce, employment, criminal and government benefits cases. It was the best of times in the life of a civil rights lawyer who is a social worker at heart. Jim McEntee not only encouraged my work to help others who have no power or money to seek justice, but as I found out more about him, it became very clear that he walked the walk and talked the talk and led by example. He was the only person I ever knew that was so pure of heart and purpose that just thinking of him now brings tears to my eyes.
He was a Roman Catholic Priest, but left the church to marry Ann, a nun, and they adopted at least 12 children of all races, some with disabilities, ranging from infants to teenagers. All their children are now successful in their careers, and they also carry on Jim and Ann’s values on the strength in diversity, peace, community and faith. Faith not only in the religious sense, but faith in believing that people will help others in need and that as long as we do so, we will survive and evolve toward a happier and more secure world.
Helping others in need can manifest itself in countless ways. Each of us can do so as part of our profession, our family, our community or as a friend, and most of all as a stranger who becomes a friend.
As the inscription on “our” bench reads, “Jim, Thank You For Helping Us To Help Others.” I hope this will encourage you to do the same.
In late March, U.S. District Judge Susan Y. Illston in San Francisco certified a price fixing class action lawsuit filed by Minami Tamaki LLP as a class action on behalf of customers of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) or products containing them.
Partners Jack Lee (left photo) and Brad Yamauchi (right photo) filed the lawsuit in 2007 against Samsung Electronics, LG Philips, Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, and others, alleging violation of antitrust and unfair competition laws, on behalf of all owners of LCD displays who were overcharged due to a price fixing scheme.
The firm is seeking money damages from the defendants, including restitution of all profits illegally obtained from overcharging the public. Price fixing occurs when vendors cooperate to set prices for their products at artificially high levels.
The firm has been deeply involved in trial preparation for the case in anticipation of a likely trial date in 2011.