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..
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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.
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
Final toast to a job and a career well done…
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.”
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.”