Boxer & Gerson in the News

February 14, 2018
Arnold and Sager Go to Stanford for SEIU Local 2007


Boxer & Gerson Partners Bert Arnold and Maria Sager headed south to Stanford University last week to discuss workers’ compensation with a group of shop stewards from Local 2007 of the Service Employees International Union. The union represents university employees in food services, landscaping, maintenance, custodial services, carpentry and many other jobs. 

Shop stewards serve as the leaders of individual worker groups who frequently attend advanced training and educational sessions regarding union activities, rights and responsibilities.

Bert Arnold and Maria Sager

Arnold and Sager teamed up, as is often the case with such visits, to present an overview of worker’s compensation and then more specific information on disability and permanent disability. Stewards take what they have learned back to the workplace to serve as resources for union rank-and-file.

“After the presentation, we were invited back to make another presentation to regular members of Local 2007,” said Sager. “There is a whole world of procedures and protocols to follow when filing a workers’ compensation claim, and the more workers know, the better chance they will have of a successful claim if they are unfortunate enough to suffer an injury in the workplace. We’re always happy to make presentations that will serve that purpose.”

Local 2007 represents workers at both Stanford and the University of Santa Clara. The international union is comprised of just under 1.9 million members who work in more than 100 different occupations in the United States and Canada.. 

February 8, 2018
Boxer & Gerson Debuts San Francisco Office

In a long-considered move, Boxer & Gerson, LLP established a San Francisco office for the first time earlier this month as it took up residence at 1390 Market Street, near the Civic Center. The new San Francisco location joins offices to the east in Concord and to the north in Santa Rosa that have grown out from the firm’s longtime headquarters in downtown Oakland.

“We’ll always be an Oakland firm, but our clients come from throughout the Bay Area, and even though modern communications certainly makes it easier to serve them, there are occasions when it is important to see them personally, as close to their home and work as possible,” said the firm’s managing partner, John Harrigan. “That’s why we have always looked for opportunities to set up offices in cities circling the bay. San Francisco was a logical next move for us. We have a lot of clients across the bay, and we serve many unions and their members in San Francisco and down the Peninsula. A San Francisco office simply makes it more convenient for them to come see us.”

The new Market Street location is just a block from Van Ness Avenue and major transportation arteries. It is in the Fox Plaza building, named for the historic Fox Theater that occupied the nearby site from 1923 until 1963. 

Boxer & Gerson, LLP was founded in Oakland by partners Stewart Boxer and Michael Gerson in 1977. More than 20 attorneys serve the firm with a focus on three specialty areas: workers’ compensation, personal injury, and Social Security Disability (Title II). Both the firm and individual attorneys regularly win accolades in surveys such as U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms” and the “Super Lawyers” attorney rating service. 


January 31, 2018
Popalardo Named President-Elect of Kids’ Chance California

Boxer & Gerson Partner Dennis Popalardo Jr.  was recently named President-Elect of Kids’ Chance California by vote of its board of directors. He will serve in the position for two years before assuming the presidency in 2020.

Dennis Popalardo

Kids’ Chance is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides need-based college scholarships to the children of workers who have been seriously injured or killed on the job.

The organization was founded in Georgia in 1988 and has since added 28 state chapters. Boxer & Gerson was a founding sponsor of Kids’ Chance California in 2012, and Popalardo was among the original board members.

“The organization had a natural appeal because its mission allowed me to give back to a community I knew well through my job,” he says. “I had seen how difficult it is for families when they lose an income, and I appreciate how life-changing it can be when a child in such a family can get help to pay for college.”

Popalardo is a certified workers’ compensation specialist who earned his undergraduate degree in politics from Fairfield University in Connecticut and his J.D. degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He became a member of the California State Bar in 1992, joined Boxer & Gerson in 2005, and became a partner in 2012. He lives in Alameda with his wife and their 8-year-old son.


January 9, 2018
Deirdre Mochel Obtains $850,000 Settlement for Injured Insurance Professional

A veteran of the insurance industry chose Boxer & Gerson to represent him nearly five years ago after an on-the-job accident led to a failed back surgery that left him unable to work and in constant pain. His travail came to an end recently when Boxer & Gerson attorney Deirdre Mochel secured an $850,000 cash settlement for him after a protracted and complex legal battle.

Mochel’s client suffered his original injury in 2008 and relied on his own knowledge of the industry to represent himself at that time. He settled in 2011 for a modest sum in workers’ compensation benefits and returned to work that he enjoyed and desired to continue doing.

Unfortunately, his recovery did not go well and his condition steadily deteriorated. A subsequent surgery failed and left him in even worse shape, unable to function in any job, suffering adverse side effects from various medications, and in terrible pain.

His struggles dealing with his former employer’s insurance carrier finally led him to Boxer & Gerson in 2012. The typically long, multi-year process culminated in the settlement last November, when the insurance company gave up on its continued efforts to dispute the man’s significant disability and consented to a lump sum settlement of $850,000.

Deirdre Mochel

“The case was complicated by a couple of different factors,” said Mochel. “One was the difficulty of establishing medical evidence of his disability over and above the standard rating guidelines for workers’ compensation injuries. Second was the fact that he had been a candidate for spinal surgery before this injury. The insurance company argued that his prior back condition was a contributing factor that should limit my client’s recovery, but we were able to establish that his spinal condition did not relate to his current disability.”

Another factor affecting the outcome was Mochel’s work to have two expert doctors agree that her client was 100 percent permanently and totally disabled because of the failed back surgery. “Doctors are often hesitant to make a finding that requires such significant deviation from the standard rating guidelines,” she said. “They usually defer such judgments to vocational experts, so that was a key factor in securing the settlement.”

Mochel noted that if the insurance company had continued to force litigation the case might have gone on another two to three years before her client would have seen the funds required to adequately deal with his continued pain and living expenses.

“After nine years, he was ready to settle and get on with his life, with some control over seeing the doctors of his choice and using medications that work best to control his pain,” she said. “This was the best outcome we could hope for. It allowed him great peace of mind and the funds to address his medical condition in the way he and his doctors see fit.”


December 22, 2017
Dikla Dolev Secures $3.25 Million Settlement for Injured Worker

Boxer & Gerson’s Dikla Dolev secured a $3.25 million settlement last week for a man whose forklift fell off a truck while he was working in 2002. The now 64-year-old Vallejo man has suffered ever since with intractable back and neck pain and catastrophic results from a subsequent failed surgery in 2007.

After the surgery, the $499 weekly workers’ compensation check he had been living on was reduced to $150 a week as his employer’s insurance company decided to contest the extent of its client’s liability for the permanent disability caused by the injury.

“This is one of the saddest cases I have ever come across,” says Dolev, who took the case on in August 2016. Boxer & Gerson co-founder Stewart Boxer and Partner Dennis Popalardo had represented the man in previous phases of the case stretching back 15 years.

“The man is essentially paralyzed from the waist down and in terrible pain, his livelihood gone, fighting depression, going in and out of facilities trying to find some solution. Just miserable. No one would trade for his circumstances for $3.25 million or any amount. I just hope he can live out his days in some kind of comfort.”

Dikla Dolev

The case had wound its way through the workers’ comp system in the kind of slow-moving timeline that can occur when arduous rehabilitation programs prove fruitless, surgical efforts fail, and insurance companies mount a vigorous defense attempting to deflect responsibility and limit the amount of compensation due to a victim.

Three years ago, the insurance company offered a $1.2 million settlement, then firmly rejected the $2 million counteroffer Boxer & Gerson had proffered on behalf of its client. 

“He essentially has a lifetime pension that will now allow him some peace and access to the care he will always need,” says Dolev. “We don’t see benefits like this very often in workers’ comp cases. It takes a really bad injury to get to this point, but anyone seeing him would understand. This was a very emotional case and settlement conference. It was hard not to take it home with me, so I’m just gratified we were able to win him at least a good financial outcome.”


December 20, 2017
Boxer & Gerson Rides With Local Teamsters Toy Drive

Boxer & Gerson Partner (and avid motorcycle rider) Bert Arnold represented the firm at the Show N’ Shine Toy Drive for the Teamsters Horsemen of Joint Council 7 West (Teamsters Motorcycle Club) last week. The firm was one of the sponsors of this annual event that brings broad smiles to kids—and to plenty of adult motorcycle lovers affiliated with the Teamsters—every holiday season.

The ride is a benefit for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland where many children stricken with leukemia go to receive state-of-the-art treatment for their illness. The hospital is also a major research center focused on the condition, which is the most common form of childhood cancer and affects some 5,000 children in the U.S. every year. 

The Teamsters “Horsemen” take it upon themselves to collect toys from members and friends in the months leading up to the event and then take great pride and pleasure in riding to the hospital en masse to personally deliver toys to the children. Boxer & Gerson takes its own pride in being affiliated with this event and the compassionate men and women of the Teamsters Joint Council who lend their energy and enthusiasm to it.


A portion of the toys ready for delivery by the Teamsters last week

December 13, 2017
Mayor’s Toy Drive Reception Nets Record Haul for Oakland Kids

The Oakland workers’ compensation community and many others showed up in force last week to support the city’s disadvantaged children, and the result was a record haul of toys and cash raised for the Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive’s Ninth Annual Opening Reception.

The gala event drew some 250 people to Boxer & Gerson’s downtown offices in the Rotunda Building, where the price of admission was  either five unwrapped non-violent toys or $50 that would go to the purchase of such toys. Attendees were treated to finger foods, refreshments and musical entertainment that included the Pacific Boychoir Academy, the Piedmont Troubadours, and the George Spencer Trio.

By evening’s end, attendees had contributed 39 boxes of toys and $32,526 (along with one red tricycle), all of it destined to join other citywide efforts that are expected to ensure that more than 5,000 Oakland children will receive toys this holiday season who may otherwise have gone without. The reception totals far outdid last year’s 32 boxes of toys and $18,000 in cash donations.

Fortunately for event organizers, a large contingent of Oakland Police cadets with young healthy backs saw to it that a good portion of the toys were transported to a warehouse where they would await distribution in the days ahead. (See photo below.)

Also lending huge hands were the Oakland Mayor’s office, the city’s unionized employees, the Oakland Fire Department and Oakland’s own A’s and Warriors sports teams.  

The Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive dates back to 1979 and the Lionel Wilson administration. All five subsequent mayors since then have lent their support and prestige to the effort, which got a small boost in 2009 when Boxer & Gerson’s Maria Sager got the inspiration to conduct an in-house reception for employees who brought toys to contribute to the citywide effort.

That modest beginning has since become a huge boost to the Toy Drive as the opening reception grew into a public event that has been energetically embraced by the workers’ compensation community and other Boxer & Gerson friends. .

Current mayor Libby Schaaf was an honored guest at this year’s reception, as was Interim Deputy Fire Chief Melinda Drayton and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Presiding Judge Gene Lam. Al Lujan of the City of Oakland, widely hailed as “the heart and soul” of the Toy Drive for the past 16 years, was an honored speaker as he bowed out to let others carry on the tradition he has done so much to promote.


Healthy young backs and high ideals made the Oakland police cadets the perfect candidates to help transport toys to the warehouse.

December 6, 2017
A Fitting and Fond Sendoff for Retiree Stewart Boxer

Founding Partners Stewart Boxer and Michael Gerson celebrate Boxer’s retirement—a remarkable milestone in their firm’s 40-year history

Family and friends of Stewart Boxer gathered last month to celebrate his retirement from the firm he co-founded in 1977 with his colleague and friend Michael Gerson. The event drew some 200 people from throughout the Bay Area’s legal community. Prominent among them were the 20+ attorneys now associated with the firm that Boxer helped grow into a widely respected regional powerhouse protecting the rights of injured workers, accident victims, and the disabled.

Boxer will be joined in retirement by his wife of 55 years, the former United States Senator Barbara Boxer, who retired earlier this year after four terms representing California in the United States Senate and five terms in the House of Representatives. The couple’s children, Doug and Nicole, two of their three grandchildren, and other family members, all of them found in the photos below, lent greatly to the celebratory mood as the large crowd offered Boxer a fond farewell from the joys and rigors of the legal profession he served with such distinction over 40+ years.


Stewart and Barbara, flanked by Stewart’s brother Harold, daughter Nicole, grandchildren Reyna and Zain, son Doug and his wife Amy


Gersons & Boxers: Michael, Barbara, Stewart, Jamie


On both the short- and long-term agenda: more time with the grandchildren


The son and daughter offer a few words


Son Doug with wife Amy and children Reyna and Zain


Enjoying the fruits of many years’ good labor


With firm colleagues Warren Pulley, Bert Arnold, Dikla Dolev and Hillary Nakano


With longtime labor leader Chuck Mack


With Boxer & Gerson Partner Gary Lee and his wife, Lisa Oyama


Pat Woodward, Jim Beno, and Jesse Juarez of the IAM Lodge 190

Harold Boxer, artist

Stewart, the son of a Teamster, with Teamsters Rome Aloise, Chuck Mack, and Joe Silva


With Boxer & Gerson Associate Deirdre Mochel

With Steve Kazan, founding partner of Oakland law firm Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood

With the evening’s entertainment, longtime musician and former client, Lloyd Gregory


Managing Partner John Harrigan, the evening’s MC


With humor and heart: fellow Founding Partner Michael Gerson at the podium


Fond reflections


Final toast to a job and a career well done…






November 16, 2017
Boxer & Gerson to Host Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive Reception for Ninth Year

The 39th Annual Oakland Mayor’s Toy Drive will return for the ninth straight year for its opening reception to the offices of Boxer & Gerson, LLP in the Rotunda Building at Frank G Ogawa Plaza on December 7.

The firm began the reception in 2009 as strictly an in-house affair encouraging employees to donate to the drive while enjoying cookies and hot chocolate in a low-key setting. It has since grown to attract 41 sponsors to a fun-filled reception that draws some 250 guests from the entire Oakland workers’ compensation community. Their “price of admission” to the event is either five unwrapped non-violent toys suitable for children up to 12 years old, or a check for $50 that goes toward buying toys.

The drive collects and distributes toys during the holiday season to needy children throughout the Oakland metropolitan area.

As in years past, the dinner-time affair (5-8 p.m.) will feature catered finger foods and drinks, musical entertainment, and a raffle item that should engender plentiful interest during the event: a signed Golden State Warriors game jersey from All-Star power forward Draymond Green.

Visiting dignitaries will include Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, recently appointed Fire Chief Darin White, and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Presiding Judge Gene Lam. Music will be provided by the Pacific Boychoir Academy, the Piedmont Troubadours, and the George Spencer Trio.

“The Toy Drive and our role in it seems to get bigger every year,” says Boxer & Gerson Partner Maria Sager, whose brainchild the reception was nine years ago and who still plays a lead role in the abundant planning to which many other firm employees contribute.

Sager notes that Boxer & Gerson employees continue to participate in an in-house toy drive of their own in the days leading up to the reception. Their contributions are added to the larger drive that last year yielded 32 bins of toys from the reception, along with $18,000 in checks. This year, the drive has already collected nearly $30,000 as of mid-November.

“We’re very happy to keep growing this event,” says Sager. “It is always a happy occasion filled with holiday spirit, and most importantly, it ensures that thousands of Oakland children are gifted with toys who may otherwise have gone without.”


November 6, 2017
B&G Firm and Attorney Trio Earn U.S. News – Best Lawyers® Honors

Boxer & Gerson, LLP has once again earned top Tier 1 rankings for Oakland law firms in two different practice areas by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® for the Eighth Edition of “Best Law Firms.” The firm earned Tier 1 recognition in the workers’ compensation area for the third consecutive year, while its product liability services earned Tier 1 ranking for the first time.

Product liability is a subset of the firm’s personal injury practice area, headed up by Partners Gary Roth and Associate Attorney Eric Ritigstein.

Meanwhile, the remaining nearly 20 attorneys in the firm practice in the workers’ compensation area, making it the largest worker’s comp firm in Northern California. 

In addition, three of the firm’s attorneys—Co-Founding Partner Michael Gerson, Managing Partner John Harrigan, and recently retired Partner John Anton, were honored individually as Best Lawyers® for 2018. Gerson and Harrigan were named on the claimants’ side in workers’ compensation, while Anton was honored on the plaintiffs’ side in personal injury and product liability.

The U.S. News – 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 their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. This year, the rankings incorporated 7.3 million evaluations of more than 54,000 individual leading lawyers collected by Best Lawyers® in its most recent annual survey.

The survey solicited feedback from clients on  firms’ practice groups, level of expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm.

Boxer & Gerson Managing Partner John Harrigan once again noted the firm’s appreciation for the recognition by a respected third party.

“The fact that these awards recognize specific feedback from clients and peers in the legal profession is of course gratifying,” he said. “No one ever thinks about winning awards when they’re faced with the challenge of simply handling cases for clients one by one. The most important award is when we have simply done collective good work for our clients.”