Five Boxer & Gerson, LLP workers’ compensation attorneys took turns on the dais as panel members at the 2017 Summer Convention of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) last month. The semi-annual continuing education event was held over four days at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco, playing host to nearly 600 attorneys from around the state. Formal panel discussions and exhibits were complemented by a host of informal gatherings across the bay from Boxer & Gerson’s downtown Oakland offices.
Arjuna Farnsworth led off the firm’s convention involvement on Thursday, June 22 by being one of four expert panelists on a presentation titled, “Benson Revisited.” Diane Benson was the plaintiff in a much-chronicled workers’ compensation case in 2007 that was later appealed and continues to reverberate today. Farnsworth has long studied the case for its implications in the field.
Later that day, Boxer & Gerson Partner and Workers’ Compensation Specialist Maria Sager served as moderator for a panel on ““Immigrants’ Rights in Workers’ Compensation.” Sager has a longtime interest in the topic, on which she speaks regularly both to the legal community and in public presentations. She frequently touches on the subject in a monthly radio interview show on the Spanish language station KIQI in San Francisco.
The conference’s second day saw two Boxer & Gerson associate attorneys serve on morning panels. Warren Pulley, a former California State Bar Workers’ Compensation “Defense Attorney of the Year,” lent his nearly three decades of experience to a panel entitled, “Evidence: Procedure and Substance.” It examined a range of issues on deposition and trial procedures, rules of evidence, and pre-trial preparations.
Associate Attorney Jenny Jerez then served on a panel addressing “Applicant Depositions,” which ranged from how-to’s regarding deposition preparation to complex modern developments with respect to privacy rights, immigration, social media exposure and 5th amendment concerns. Jerez currently serves as vice president of CAAA’s East Bay Chapter, one of 18 local chapters that meets monthly for continuing education and advocacy purposes.
Longtime Partner Bert Arnold, who served as president of the Statewide CAAA in 2015 and East Bay chapter president in the previous decade, concluded Boxer & Gerson’s participation in formal presentations by moderating a Saturday morning panel on “Protecting Your Client’s Rights in Settlement Documents.” It addressed a number of fine points such as unpaid medical expenses, a case settlement’s effect on Medicare/Medi-Cal and Social Security, and limitations on future medical costs.
The CAAA was founded in 1966 with the purpose of helping California workers injured on the job to heal and return to work. Besides offering continuing education opportunities for its members, it engages in ongoing legal, policy and educational advocacy activities.
“Our firm’s active participation in CAAA through conferences and in service as officers to the local and statewide organization is not unusual,” commented Boxer & Gerson Managing Partner John Harrigan. “We believe wholeheartedly in CAAA’s great benefit to injured California workers and the attorneys who represent them. The fact that so many of our attorneys are actively involved and invited to participate in these conferences speaks well of their professional reputations. We’re just very pleased to continue helping attorneys statewide in their collective pursuit of strong advocacy for injured workers.”
Left to right: Arjuna Farnsworth, Maria Sager, Warren Pulley, Jenny Jerez, Bert Arnold
Boxer & Gerson, LLP Partners Dennis Popalardo and Gary Roth paid a weekend visit to the Teamsters International Union’s Local 315 in Martinez on Saturday, July 15 to make a presentation to some 50 shop stewards and alternates.
Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Popalardo and Roth, who practices personal injury law, emphasized the basic do’s and don’ts for workers in both the immediate and longer-term aftermath of suffering a workplace injury. Roth gave special attention to injuries caused by a third party.
Shop stewards are typically charged with learning as much as possible about issues affecting union members in the workplace. Boxer & Gerson attorneys make a regular practice of being available for presentations to stewards across a broad range of industries in the Bay Area.
Local 315 has a venerable history, having been chartered in 1936. It maintains collective bargaining agreements with more than 100 Bay Area companies.
The industries represented within its unit range from package handling and delivery to solid waste and recycling collection, grocery distribution and warehousing, transit, bakeries, construction and building materials, and much else. It represents some 4,500 workers, primarily in Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano counties.
Boxer & Gerson Partners Michael Gerson, Gary Lee, Maria Sager and Gary Roth were joined by Associate Dikla Dolev in addressing an audience of union shop stewards at the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on Wednesday, July 12.
The veteran attorneys were invited by Union Local 2019 staff, who were joined in the audience by members of Union Local 444. The two unions represent different classes of EBMUD employees.
The event was held at the EBMUD offices in downtown Oakland.
Roth, the only personal injury specialist in the quintet, started off the two-hour program with a review of personal injury law as it applies in the workplace.
He was followed by certified workers’ compensation specialists Sager, who gave an overview of workers’ compensation law, and then Lee, who discussed medical care and temporary/permanent disability.
Gerson, also a certified workers’ compensation specialist, offered his perspectives throughout the program, gleaned from his nearly 40-year tenure as a founding partner of Boxer & Gerson, LLP. Dolev then joined in with her colleagues in the concluding question-and-answer session.
The assembled employees came from a wide variety of jobs, among them engineers, clerks, inspectors, accounting staff, customer service representatives, lab technicians, environmental compliance staff, dispatchers, construction workers, plumbers, concrete finishers, plant operators, information technology workers and more.
Local 2019 is comprised of some 700 EBMUD employees. Both it and Local 444 address the collective bargaining needs of municipal employees working on drinking water and wastewater treatment projects.
EBMUD provides drinking water to 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and also operates wastewater treatment facilities that serve 685,000 customers.
Gary Roth (back row, left), Maria Sager and Dikla Dolev (front row left and right), and Michael Gerson (next to Dolev) join some of their audience members from EBMUD after their presentation.
Boxer & Gerson’s All-Star Barbecue Team put together a stellar effort last weekend in the First Annual Teamsters Horsemen Motorcycle Association Chapter 7 BBQ Cook-Off. Five workers’ compensation attorneys from the firm got out to Swiss Park in Newark on a sunny Saturday to help the nonprofit recreational motorcycle group from various Teamsters Union locals around the Bay Area and beyond raise more than $10,000 for the Childhood Leukemia Foundation. The event also included a motorcycle and car show.
The Boxer & Gerson contingent was comprised of (left to right back row in photo above) Warren Pulley, sous chef Justin Litvack, grillmaster Arjuna Farnsworth, sous chef Andrew Levine, and (in front) Dikla Dolev (along with her daughter Adi). Their efforts in producing adobo pork ribs and tri-tip with chimichurri sauce were rewarded with a fifth place ribbon in the hotly contested competition (ambient temperature in the 90s, far hotter above the grills).
Hearty congratulations are in store for the community-minded quintet and their families who supported their weekend charitable activity.
Grillmaster Arjuna Farnsworth applying the finishing touches to his masterpieces.
Hillary Nakano has been named Boxer & Gerson’s newest associate, taking her place alongside her colleagues as a workers’ compensation attorney after being sworn into the California State Bar.
Nakano is a lifelong Bay Area resident who was educated in Oakland elementary and secondary schools, went south for her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Barbara, then returned to earn her law degree at the University of San Francisco. That decidedly local orientation will be well complemented by her familiarity with Boxer & Gerson, where she has been working as a legal assistant since her law school graduation while studying for and then awaiting the results of her bar exam.
The event was marked in two locations. The first was at the Oakland Convention Center on June 7 to officially register Nakano’s addition to the State Bar membership roster. The second was a week later in the Boxer & Gerson offices, where she was joined by her parents, Gerry Nakano and Dianne Fukami, her fiancé Stuart Gwynn, and fellow staff attorneys who know full well the arduous road that must be traversed from law school to passage of the bar exam. The ceremony was officiated by Judge Gene Lam, the Oakland Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Presiding Judge. Lam is shown in the photo above with Nakano and her father.
Nakano is a fourth generation Japanese-American whose sights on a legal career were profoundly shaped by the fact that all four of her American citizen grandparents were sent to the infamous Japanese internment camps in the California desert during World War II. Growing up with full knowledge of that grave injustice, Nakano knew from an early age she wanted to pursue some justice-oriented helping profession. The legal field was a natural draw.
“I always wanted to be an attorney,” she says. “I first thought I might want to go into employment law, but when I came to Boxer & Gerson for an informational interview during law school, I discovered the appeal of workers’ compensation. (Boxer & Gerson Partner) Gary Lee made a strong case for it, and later offered me a job as soon as I passed the bar. It seemed like a great fit for me, and I am overjoyed to be here.”
Nakano is joined again by her father and Judge Lam, along with her mother and her fiance Stuart.
La Raza Centro Legal is a longtime friend of Boxer & Gerson, LLP. The San Francisco-based nonprofit organization has been dedicated to protecting the rights of Latino, immigrant and low-income individuals in employment, housing, residency status and many other areas since its founding in 1973. Given the commonality of values and concern for oppressed populations, Boxer & Gerson has maintained a longstanding commitment to assisting the organization in any way it can.
On June 6, that commitment manifested in Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager making a presentation to the La Raza Centro Legal staff on workers’ compensation law. The two organizations’ ties will be renewed again on June 16 when Boxer & Gerson sponsors Centro Legal’s 44th Anniversary Gala. The events stand as bookends, in significant ways, to a relationship that has been dedicated to advancing the common good in the Bay Area for many years.
Sager’s June 6 presentation focused on an overview of workers’ compensation law and a review of its benefits, settlements, penalties and civil considerations. The subject is especially relevant to La Raza Centro Legal and its clients, given that immigrant workers can present inviting targets for certain unscrupulous employers who would deny them adequate recourse after they have been injured on the job.
Call 415-575-3500 for more information on the gala celebration or any aspect of La Raza Centro Legal services.
Boxer & Gerson Partner and Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Dennis Popalardo was recently appointed to the City of Alameda’s Health Care District Board of Directors by a vote of existing board members in order to fill a vacant position. His term will run through late 2018, at which time he will be eligible to run for re-election by voters living within the district.
Immediately upon his appointment to the five-person board, Popalardo was elected its treasurer and community health liaison. He has a particular interest in community wellness programs that include outreach to schools and economically disadvantaged residents of the district.
Popalardo is a 10-year resident of Alameda who joined Boxer & Gerson in 2005 and became a partner in 2012. His community involvement also includes service on the Board of Directors of Kids’ Chance California, which is part of a nationwide organization dedicated to providing need-based scholarships to the children of workers who have been fatally or seriously injured on the job. Boxer & Gerson served as a founding sponsor of the California branch in 2012.
Alameda Hospital was founded in 1894 and serves as the primary health care and emergency room resource for the island population of 80,000 just south of Oakland. It is part of the Alameda Health System, which includes four acute care hospitals, a psychiatric hospital, and wellness centers throughout Alameda County.
A quartet of Boxer & Gerson attorneys helped the workplace health and safety organization Worksafe celebrate its 35th anniversary on May 19 by attending a reception held at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. The evening event drew Worksafe supporters from all over the Bay Area and beyond, there to honor the nonprofit group’s wide-ranging efforts to help create safer, more just and thus more productive environments for workers throughout California.
Partners Michael Gerson, John Harrigan and Julius Young joined Of Counsel Attorney Frank Russo at the event, which, besides its gallery backdrop, music and silent auction was highlighted by the presentation of three awards. Young had a special role to play in presenting the Fourth Annual Fran Schreiberg Pro Bono Award to Oakland Attorney Jim Butler of Butler Viadro, LLC. Young was the inaugural recipient of the award in 2014, and Schreiberg is a longtime Oakland attorney with a decades-long record of assisting Worksafe and countless pro bono clients.
Michael Gerson with wife Jamie and John Harrigan at the Worksafe celebration
Other awards went to Dr. Robert Harrison, who founded the University of California San Francisco’s Occupational Health Services and has served as its director for more than 15 years, and the Campaign to End Sexual Assault on the Night Shift. The campaign was a collaborative effort on the part of filmmakers, reporters and immigrant women workers whose stories were told in the documentary “Rape on the Night Shift.” That effort then led to union representatives from SEIU-USWW successfully mobilizing to pass A.B. 1978 in the California Legislature, which provides protections from sexual violence and harassment in the janitorial services industry.
Worksafe’s portfolio includes legislative advocacy that promotes more effective health and safety laws, watchdogging government agencies to ensure enforcement of existing laws, collaborating with other organizations to eliminate toxic chemicals and other hazards from the workplace, and providing legal training, technical assistance, and advocacy support to legal services programs that serve low wage and immigrant workers.
Boxer & Gerson is proud to continue its longtime close association and alignment with the Worksafe mission on behalf of working men and women.
Boxer & Gerson Partner Bert Arnold’s involvement with the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) spans many roles, from serving as past president of the statewide organization to his current role as CAAA’s legislative chair, to his frequent appearances as a panelist and lecturer at educational events for attorneys, physicians, and qualified medical examiners (QMEs). It was in this latter role that he appeared in April and will again in June at CAAA-sponsored events.
Arnold was one of two panelists in CAAA’s “ExamWorks” seminar for QMEs on April 29 in Sacramento. He presented the workers’ side of the medical evaluation process while the defense side was discussed by Richard Montarbo, a Red Bluff-based attorney with whom Arnold frequently appears in collegial educational settings and also as opposing counsel in workers’ compensation hearings. The two discussed “cumulative traumas,” a key factor in many workers’ compensation cases.
In certain cases, the defense may challenge a proposed financial award to an injured worker based on the assertion that previous injuries to the same body part or system are responsible for some percentage of the current injury. Determining the extent, if any, of a previous injury’s impact on a worker’s current condition is a difficult task, and it can be a key factor in arriving at a workers’ compensation award. The more knowledge and experience QMEs obtain on the matter, the more likely they are to determine an award that will be considered just by all parties.
At CAAA’s upcoming summer convention at the San Francisco Hyatt from June 22-25, Arnold will serve as a panelist on the subject of “Settlement Addendums,” which occur when employers wish to add certain language to case settlements after the state has generated the forms that settle a case. Settlement Addendums usually involve fine points and particulars that were not specifically included in the original settlement, but which remain to be elaborated and negotiated if necessary as the parties proceed to enact the practical aspects of the agreement.
Arnold is a certified workers’ compensation specialist who makes regular appearances on the “Bay Area Super Lawyers” lists. Now in his 31st year as a practicing attorney, he joined Boxer & Gerson in 1999 and became a partner with the firm in 2005.
Boxer & Gerson Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Dennis Popalardo, Deirdre Mochel and Justin Litvack teamed up two nights ago to make a presentation to the Stewards Council of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 29 at the union’s offices in Oakland. Local 29 represents more than 6,000 office, technical, professional and health care employees at more than 300 workplaces in the Bay Area.
Shop stewards are elected or appointed to represent each workplace in the union. They function as the point person to whom an employee would turn with urgent or even routine issues that come up in the workplace with other members, before or in lieu of the issue being addressed at the union local level. The trio of Boxer & Gerson attorneys thus focused their presentation on making sure the stewards received an accurate overview of workers’ compensation law and various do’s and don’ts when an employee gets injured at work.
Boxer & Gerson attorneys make regular presentations to union and other groups for whom it is imperative that they have a solid understanding of workers’ compensation law. The law also tends to be in flux as new legislation or court decisions interpreting existing law revise its various processes, procedures and applications. Presentations to union stewards are in addition to similar appearances in front of rank-and-file union members, executive boards, and union business agents.
Deirdre Mochel addresses OPEIU shop stewards with help from Justin Litvack (front center). Photos by Dennis Popalardo.