Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises $57,000 to fight impaired driving in Kern County

September 29, 2021 | 11:28 am


Hundreds of crash victims, family members and friends, law enforcement officers and first responders, community leaders, and supporters came together Sept. 25 at the Park at River Walk to walk, run, and call for an end to impaired driving crashes in Kern County.

In the process, the eighth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raised more than $57,000 for local educational programs and prevention services, and to support local crash victims. The event was help in-person this year after a virtual ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even during the pandemic, impaired driving crashes continue to tear apart the lives of local residents at record rates in our community,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “Kern County came together Saturday with three goals in mind: to remember victims, to inspire change, and to commit to a future of ‘No More Victims’.”

Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.

At the state level, the “MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving” calls for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks or in-car breathalyzers for all convicted drunk drivers, and support for the development of advanced technology.

Bakersfield’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Assemblyman Vince Fong, and others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by Capital Dental Group, a timed 5K run, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, and as well to top fundraisers. They were:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Punjabi Golf Association of Bakersfield
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: RoseMary Wahl
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Valley Strong Credit Union
  • Overall 5K Winners: Emma Mann and Troy Guess

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the event was also supported this year by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., Helping HART (Hit-and-Run Tragedies), STEPS Inc., and others. Since the first Bakersfield Walk Like MADD in 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising nearly $500,000 for MADD Kern County.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Attorney Matt Clark sits on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board and regularly speaks to DUI offenders during the MADD Victim Impact Panels, and law firm marketing director is the planning committee chairman for the annual. Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash. For its work has been recognized and honored on several occasions:

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.
  • Matt Clark received the “Pursuit of Justice Award” during Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s 2019 “Tie One On for Safety” Gala Awards. The event annually recognizes supporters of MADD Southern California – the regional area for MADD Kern County – which also includes Los Angeles and San Diego chapters.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Local family hoping to spare others the heartache of fatal hit-and-run crashes, help victims and law enforcement

September 15, 2021 | 9:20 am


In the shadow of a hit-and-run tragedy, one local family is hoping to spare others the same grief they felt while helping victims, supporting law enforcement, and honoring their own loved one.

Dawn Elliott knows firsthand what it’s like to lose someone to a hit-and-run crash — her mother Deborah Ann Geneau was killed last year in Bakersfield. And she doesn’t want to see anyone one else to be affected. She and her husband started Helping HART (Hit-and-Run Tragedies), which aims to raise awareness of these crimes, help hit-and-run victims and their families, and help fund law enforcement by providing much-needed resources.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the cause by sponsoring  this nonprofit organization. The law firm also represents the family of Geneau, as well as other local hit-and-run victims, and knows too well the devastation caused by hit-and-run drivers.

 

THE CRASH

Stephanie Heninger was arrested and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run charges connected to the July 22 crash near CSU Bakersfield. The family of Deborah Geneau and Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles had offered a reward to $7,500 for the person who helped identify the driver of a 2013-2019 dark gray Nissan Sentra that was suspected of causing the crash on Stockdale Highway near Don Hart Drive.

Police learned through GPS location data that Heninger had been at the scene of the crash, according to a probable cause declaration reported by KGET-17. Police also obtained a statement from Heninger confirming she was the driver who left the scene, according to reports. The vehicle in the incident was seized in Riverside County, Bakersfield Police reported. While police received several tips, police investigations ultimately led to the arrest. The court case is ongoing.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed lawsuits on behalf of the Geneau family against two other driver’s involved in the fatal crash. Both of those drivers were also speeding 10-15 mph above the 55 mph speed limit at the time of the collision, according to police.

At a press conference in July 2020 at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Debbie’s husband Rick Geneau and their daughter Dawn shared about their loss, and pleaded with the driver who caused the collision to turn him or herself in. Rick met Debbie met when they were both 14 years old. At the time of Debbie’s death, they had had been married for 45 years. Dawn Elliott told media she feels she’s had to take on her mother’s role and be the strength of the family during this time.

“You’ve not only taken my mom’s life, you’ve taken a piece of all of our lives.”

 

HELPING HART

Dawn and her husband Joe Elliott Jr. founded the nonprofit Helping HART just one year after the crash to honor mother and grandmother Deborah Geneau. And they’re not alone.

In 2019, the United States saw more than 2,000 fatalities due to hit-and-run crashes, according to national statistics provided on the Helping HART website.

“That means 2,005 people have been ripped away from the people who loved them,” the website states. “That is 2,005 men, women, grandparents, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends stolen away in a senseless act of cowardice.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of one hit-and-run accident happens in the United States every minute.

“Everyone knows accidents happen, but people should not run from their mistakes by leaving the scene having no regard for doing the right thing,” according to Helping HART.

The nonprofit will offer assistance through home remodels or vehicle modifications to anyone who has developed handicaps as a result of hit-and-run crashes, and offer scholarships to children who lost a parent to a hit-and-run, Dawn Elliott told KGET-17 News.

“I will be able to continue doing things in memory of my mom,” Dawn told KGET. “Therefore, my mom is still with me. Helping me. Really neat that I get to work with my mom for the rest of my life.”

Anyone interested in supporting Helping HART can make a donation by visiting helpinghart.org or by emailing [email protected].

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney selected to 2021 Bakersfield Life Magazine’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch”

September 1, 2021 | 5:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Tanya D. Alsheikh has been selected as one of the 2021 “20 Under 40 People to Watch” in Bakersfield Life Magazine.

The magazine’s annual “20 Under 40 People to Watch” highlights outstanding young men and women whom Bakersfield can be proud of, who possess a hard work ethic, dedication, and a passion for volunteering.

“Bakersfield has always had an electric group of talent, from artists and musicians to lawyers and entrepreneurs. This year’s 20 Under 40 selections are no different,” the magazine stated in its introduction. “In this 2021 issue, we also celebrate the eighth year of recognizing 20 individuals who are rising stars in their professions and leaders in their places of business, as well as in the community. … (W)e are grateful to the class of 2021 — all their hard work and what they bring to the table.”

Alsheikh joined the law firm 5 years ago and focuses on accident, injury, and elder abuse cases. She was raised in Bakersfield and received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount, and her Juris Doctorate from University of San Diego School of Law. Tanya is involved in various activities at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Bakersfield. You can find her, for example, serving food at the annual Greek Food Festival, which benefits church and other community projects. She is also an Executive Board Member of the Bakersfield Christian High School Alumni Association. She is fluent in Arabic.

In the magazine’s editor’s note, Editor Shelby Parker writes: “Our 20 Under 40 selections have exemplary resumes and are making a difference in our community with their hearts and souls. They are leaders, business owners, givers, and change-makers … Those featured in this issue remind all of us, no matter what age you might be, no matter what you might have going on, that you can still go after your dreams and pursue your passions for what you really want in life.”

Alsheikh’s inclusion on the list now makes six people at the law firm who have been selected for this honor. And of the seven lawyers in the law firm, four of them have been selected. The six are:

The following profile was published in Bakersfield Life Magazine as part of the recognition

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Name: Tanya Alsheikh

Age: 30

Occupation/Business: Attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Hometown: Bakersfield

Tell us how you got into your field. Since I was pretty young — I’d say 10 years old or so, I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. When I was a freshman at Bakersfield Christian High School, I joined the debate team and automatically felt driven to learn how to properly research arguments and persuasively present them. I never really escaped that drive and I only became more passionate about my dream of becoming an attorney (despite my mom’s best efforts to convince me to become a doctor instead). I attended Loyola Marymount University, where I graduated a year early just so I could take that year to work at a law firm and verify that was the job environment I was looking for. After that year, I went straight to law school and never looked back or regretted it for one moment.

What is your “why?” (Why do you get out of bed every morning and do what you do?) It is extremely rewarding to wake up, walk into work, and know that I am really “standing up for the little guy.” I work on both personal injury and elder abuse/neglect cases. As one can reasonably expect, when someone is involved in an accident they become overwhelmed by all the paperwork the insurance companies start sending them and forget what is most important: getting better.

When I get involved in a case, I take away that element of stress associated with dealing with an insurance company. Insurance companies handle these claims daily and sometimes forget that there is an injured human being on the other end of the case and take advantage of that person. We allow the injured person to focus on his or her care and treatment, while we deal with the insurance company.

With respect to the elder abuse/neglect cases, we are representing elders or dependent adults who were entrusted into the care of nursing homes that took advantage of these people by receiving payment for services that were promised, but never provided. Sometimes, those failures end up resulting in very serious injuries, painful conditions requiring hospitalization, or death. We give a voice to a vulnerable population that can’t stand up for themselves. Honestly, when I’m describing the work we do, “rewarding” seems like such a small word.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Never lose track of your goals, but remember to be flexible. Face the challenges that come along the way head-on even if it leads you down a path you never expected to go.

What is the biggest challenge in the marketplace/business that you’ve overcome? I actually think this is a big obstacle all young attorneys face: being taken seriously as an attorney. When people think of lawyers, they usually think of someone who has the white hair to prove their level of knowledge and experience, but all those attorneys started out like me and there is no shame in being a young attorney. It was a matter of me making the conscious choice to feel comfortable and proud of the fact that I became an attorney at 25 years old, instead of trying to avoid the subject altogether.

What is your proudest achievement of your career thus far?

This is a tough one because it is hard to pinpoint just one specific instance.

Something I did not expect when I was starting my career is that the law is not always clear and sometimes the courts have not had any reason or opportunity to interpret that law. When you run into that situation, you feel like you’ve reached a total dead-end, but giving up is not an option. Every time I’m able to push through that feeling and find an answer or craft an argument despite the lack of case law is a time I feel accomplished.

What’s next for you in your career?

Continue to learn and grow. Regardless of your status as an associate or a partner, there is always something new to learn and I plan to push myself to the fullest extent to become as knowledgeable as I can to better serve my clients and community.

What advice would you give to other young professionals and entrepreneurs in Bakersfield? 

Don’t get discouraged or feel like you’re not successful because you ended up in a city like Bakersfield and not Los Angeles or New York. It is a lot easier to find opportunities for growth and the ability to have a real work-life balance in a place like Bakersfield than if you were in one of those big cities where you’re competing with thousands of people and your entire paycheck goes to your cost of living.

How do you hope to help improve Bakersfield, or bring to the community overall? 

I feel like Bakersfield really gets an undeserved reputation of being a terrible place to live, but in all reality, it has so much to offer that gets overlooked — whether it’s the cost of living or that small-town feel despite being a rather large city. I’m so happy to call it home. I am always on the lookout to give back to a city that has been my home for nearly 75 percent of my life. I love to get involved with organizations or groups that are looking to improve the city and provide a tangible reason for people to change their perception of the city. For instance, I was involved with The Innovation Lab, which is part of The Hub of Bakersfield — a team of individuals who work together to contribute to the betterment of downtown Bakersfield to make it a more desirable place to live and enjoy. Groups and organizations like that see the value that I do and what to share that with the community.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before starting your career? Loan forgiveness counts as income! (haha) and deadlines are everything and procrastination is not an option.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

3 Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys selected into ‘Best Lawyers in America’ rankings publication

August 19, 2021 | 1:56 pm


Three lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have been recognized in the Best Lawyers in America program, the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world.

For the fourth year in a row, David K. Cohn, managing partner at the law firm, was selected into the personal injury litigation category of the Best Lawyers program, while James A. Yoro, senior partner at the firm, was selected into the workers’ compensation law listings. This year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the only law firm in the Kern County area with more than one attorney to be listed.

In addition, Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury lawyer and junior partner Chad Boyles was selected for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America “Ones to Watch” list for the second year. The recognition is given to attorneys who are earlier in their careers (5 to 10 years in practice) for outstanding professional excellence in private practice in the United States.

Attorneys named to the U.S. News & World Report’s “The Best Lawyers in America” are recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in specific practice areas. For the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, more than 10.8 million evaluations were analyzed, which resulted in more than 66,000 leading lawyers in 147 practice areas being included in the new edition. This represents about 5% of lawyers in private practice in the United States. Unlike some other attorney directories and awards, lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, and inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

“Forty years ago, Best Lawyers was founded to provide individuals searching for a lawyer a reliable and unbiased resource to identify the top legal professionals in their area,” said Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer in a press release. “We are proud to continue our globally respected purely peer review methodology to honor the deserving lawyers recognized by their contemporaries. Congratulations to the lawyers included in the 2022 editions of The Best Lawyers in America and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America.”

 

SELECTED ATTORNEYS

David Cohn is one of the most respected lawyers in the Central Valley, having been voted into the “Best Lawyer” category of The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers Choice Poll year after year. He is a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent-rated trial attorney, has been named to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, and was selected to join the International Society of Barristers. Over the course of his career, which spans nearly 45 years all at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Cohn has obtained numerous multi-million dollar results on behalf of his clients, and his cases have led to workplace, roadway and vehicle safety measures. You can view David Cohn’s “Best Lawyers” profile by clicking here,

James Yoro is a Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional in California, and is one of the most veteran and most respected workers’ compensation lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley. He is the past president of the Kern County Bar Association. He has argued cases in front of the California Supreme Court, and for nearly 40 years has fought day in and day out for the rights of injured workers. You can view David Cohn’s “Best Lawyers” profile by clicking here.

Chad Boyles earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Cal State Bakersfield, and then attended Whittier Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. He has also been named as one of the “20 Under 40 People to Watch” in Bakersfield Life Magazine. Outside of the office, Chad is involved in several goodwill efforts throughout the community, including taking underprivileged students back-to-school shopping and mentoring pre-law students. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the CSU Bakersfield Alumni Association. He is a graduate of Leadership Bakersfield, class of 2019. You can view Chad Boyles’ “Best Lawyers” profile by clicking here.

 

BEST LAWYERS PROGRAM

For decades, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Its methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Attorneys are nominated for consideration. They are divided by geographic region and practice areas, and are evaluated by their peers on the basis of professional expertise. Those who receive high peer reviews undergo an authentication process to make sure they are currently practicing and in good standing. Only then can top attorneys be included in Best Lawyers.

“Best Lawyers believes that the best lawyers know who the best lawyers are,” according to the program’s methodology. “Thus, our recognitions are based purely on the feedback we receive from lawyers already highlighted in our publication.”

Having at least one attorney selected into the “Best Lawyers” program qualifies Chain | Cohn | Stiles to be included in the program’s “Best Law Firms” listings. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was selected for inclusion in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report, which recognizes law firms for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Additionally, achieving a ranking “signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.” The 2022 “Best Law Firms” list is released in November.

Search The Best Lawyers in America and the “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America” results by lawyer name, firm, region and/or practice area by visiting www.bestlawyers.com.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Longtime Bakersfield attorney, former Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner dies at 84

July 14, 2021 | 10:15 am


Editor’s Note: The article below was compiled from local media reports. For a column on Mr. Lemucchi written by Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn for the Kern County Bar Association magazine, Res Ipsa Loquitur, please see below:

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Timothy Lemucchi, a longtime and prominent Bakersfield lawyer and former partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles has died at age 84.

Lemucchi participated in some of Bakersfield’s most memorable trials, including that of tire store owner William Robert Tyack, accused of killing two of his neighbors in 1982, and Offord Rollins, the Wasco star athlete accused of killing his girlfriend in 1991. He would be involved in more than 250 jury trials.

Colleagues, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn, say he had an uncanny ability to read jurors and keep his cool amid difficult circumstances. Cohn worked with Lemucchi for 20 years when the firm was known as Chain Younger Lemucchi.

Lemucchi exemplified the value of diligent pre-trial preparation, Cohn told local media, and he often tutored younger lawyers after completing his own work for the day. Part of what made him such a good defense and later a personal injury lawyer was his ability to shift tactics seamlessly after being overruled by a judge, Cohn said.

Lemuccci was the son of Italian immigrants who established the iconic Old Kern staple, Luigi’s Italian Restaurant, Deli & Wine, which celebrated 100 years of business in 2010. He attended East High School, Stanford University, and then Georgetown University for his law degree.

Outside of the courtroom, Lemucchi was a competitive athlete. He regularly competed in Ironman triatholons, took cross-country skiing, hiking and fishing trips, climbed Alaska’s Denali, Mount Whitney and peaks in Russia. He survived a helicopter crash, and mounted part of the wreckage on a plaque in his office, The Bakersfield Californian reported. He also displayed a photo of himself carrying the Olympic torch ahead of the 1984 games in Los Angeles.

His competitive spirt took him on the campaign trail in 1972, when he ran for Congress.

Lemucchi was also a writer, authoring books about his family’s history. The latest, “Eddies of the Kern,” is scheduled for release Sept. 1 of this year.

Lemucchi was also a longtime supporter of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Lemucchi was “a very giving person,” Cohn shared with local media. “Tim was involved in a lot of charities here in Kern County. He always cared about the little guy.”

Lemucchi died July 7 while out on a casual bike ride with a friend, local media reported. He is survived by Margaret, his wife of 51 years; his daughter, Lisa Lemucchi, of Santa Cruz; his sister, Antonia Valpredo; niece Monica Sacco (husband John); niece Lanette Caratan (Christopher); nephew Gino Valpredo (Sandra); and numerous cousins and relatives, many of whom live in Kern County.

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‘Universally respected’: Longtime colleague David Cohn shares his memories of Tim Lemucchi

By David K. Cohn

For the “Res Ipsa Loquitur”

When Tim Lemucchi was a partner at the Chain Younger law firm, several of us attorneys challenged him. Daniel Rodriguez, James Yoro, and I bet we could beat him in the triathlon. I would do the bicycle portion, Danny would run, and Jim would swim. Tim – a tough, skilled, and experienced competitor – would, of course, do all three by himself. We trained a lot for the challenge, but we just weren’t as prepared as Tim was. In the end, we each ended up owing him $100 – which he gladly, but graciously, took. 

That was Tim. He outworked his opponents and was extremely well prepared. And though we lost, we couldn’t be upset with Tim because he was universally respected – by judges, other defense attorneys, and even his opponents.  

It was my privilege to be a legal partner of Tim’s for 20 years. During that time, I came to learn that Tim was trial lawyers, trial lawyer. 

His word was his bond. He never tried to pull a fast one. Tim was probably the most decent attorney I’ve ever met. I never really saw him lose his temper, and he always was cool under fire. His staff was also extremely loyal – he was a good boss and they respected him. He was the epitome of how to be civil

For a young lawyer, he was a great mentor.  I think I had been practicing for about 6 weeks, and Tim handed me a criminal file. He said, “Here, I think this would be a good experience for you to try a jury trial.” And I did! He gave me pointers and helped me out along the way. It wasn’t long after that I stumbled on a murder case. I went to Tim and said, “I’m not sure how to go about this.” He sat with me in court at a preliminary hearing, and he made some great suggestions, including for cross examining one of the police officers. I ended up getting the case dismissed at the preliminary hearing, mainly due to suggestions that Tim gave me. That was pretty cool for a young lawyer. 

It’s no wonder he was retained to represent Robert Tyack in the infamous double murder case. Tim used a self-defense argument even though the two men were shot in the back. While he didn’t get an acquittal, he ended up convincing a jury not to convict his client of murder. Instead, the jury came back with a verdict of manslaughter. The judge was astounded at the verdict, and how well Tim did in front of a jury. That was Tim’s biggest asset. He really knew how to connect with people, and was wonderful in front of juries. Tim’s low-key demeanor just resonated. He had that common person touch. 

In another famous case, Tim was hired for the Offord Rollins case. Rollins was a star athlete in Wasco accused of murdering his girlfriend. He did not win the case, but he gained a tremendous amount of respect throughout our community for his work in that trial. 

He knew the ins and outs of the evidence code better than any other attorney I’ve known.  

He was as close to a Renaissance man as they come. Not only was he an athlete and lawyer, but he was also an amazing writer, an outdoorsman who hiked, climbed the highest mountains, and survived helicopter crashes and snowstorms. 

As much as I was saddened to hear about Tim’s passing, I had a smile on my face knowing he was out on his bicycle, doing what he loved, riding through Hart Park at 84 years old. 

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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Free Consultation? Keep These Points In Mind When Meeting With A Lawyer On Your Injury Case

June 16, 2021 | 6:00 am


You always hear about “free consultations” by lawyers, but what does that really mean, and what should a great consultation look like for someone who needs legal help?

Accident and injury attorney Matt Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles answers this frequently asked legal question in a new video below, and we share everything you need to know below about consultations from an accident and injury lawyer.

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Accident and personal injury claims can be complicated, which is why it’s most important to hire an experienced and reputable attorney. There are three main points to keep in mind when beginning the hiring process and meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation:

1) Make sure it’s a reputable law firm or lawyer giving you a consultation. Do your research. Look at reviews and comments from past clients. Negative reviews and lack of client feedback is a big red flag. Remember, personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers should be helping clients move forward with their lives. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential lawyer for references.

2) Make sure you’re meeting with an actual attorney. You’d be surprised how often injured clients never get to meet with an attorney either before their case is signed up, or during a case. That is unacceptable. A lawyer should always be available to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about your case from the first meeting on.

3) A consultation should be free, confidential, and with no obligation to commit. Anything other than free, confidential, and no-pressure meetings is never OK.

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Once you decide which attorneys you’ll meet with about your case, you’ll want to be aware of several things in preparation for the initial consultation. Most injury lawyers offer an initial consultation at no charge. Here are 5 points to keep in mind before you sit down with an attorney to discuss your case:

1) You Can Ask Questions: You want to make sure you hire someone you feel comfortable with, who you can trust, and who has your best interest at heart. Here are a few questions you can ask:

  • What is your experience with my type of case?
  • What is your success record?
  • Who will actually be working on my case? Make sure your case isn’t handed off to a paralegal or legal assistant. You want to make sure an actual lawyer is taking care of your case.
  • Who can I talk to if I have questions during my case? An attorney should always be available to answer any of your questions.
  • How long does it take to resolve a case like mine? Potential lawyers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
  • What is my case worth? A good, experienced lawyer should also have a good idea of what your case is worth. Be wary of attorneys who make estimates that seem unrealistic.

2) Fees: A consultation should always be free and confidential, and the injury lawyers should always work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket until the legal team recovers money damages in your case through a settlement or verdict. At that point, the lawyer is given a percentage of that award, typically between 33% and 40% if the case is taken to trial. Review the contract and agree on the structure before signing it. In this format, the attorney is responsible for any legal costs if a case is unsuccessful, not the client.

3) Gather Evidence: The lawyer, too, can decide whether or not he or she wants to take your case. Be sure to come to your free consultation with any evidence of you incident and subsequent injuries. This could include photographs of the scene or injuries, a police report, and medical records. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the records; if a lawyer is interested in your case, the legal team will be able to gather all of that information for you. The attorney will also have some questions, including detail about any accident.

4) Legal Team: You need to feel comfortable working with and trusting the attorney and legal team you ultimately choose. Some law firms send non-attorneys to sign up your case, or even pretend to be local when their offices are actually in another city. Still others shift work to non-lawyers. Many lawyers, also, will take on too many cases, causing unnecessary delays. Lawyers should also focus on taking each to a jury trial, even this likely won’t be necessary. This guarantees each case reaches its fullest value, and your case isn’t settled for less.

5) No Agreement: While you have a choice on who to hire, the attorney too might not accept your case due to a number of factors: conflict of interest, statute of limitations expired, minor injuries and small recovery, you caused the accident, or the attorney doesn’t have expertise in your case. If a lawyer can’t help you with your case, he or she should be able to refer you to someone who could help.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Four Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys earn 2021 ‘Super Lawyers’ distinction

March 3, 2021 | 9:34 am


Four attorneys and partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have been named to the 2021 “Super Lawyers” listing by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine.

Personal injury attorneys David Cohn and Matthew Clark earned the Super Lawyers distinction, as well as workers’ compensation lawyer James Yoro. The prestigious honor is awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement.

Additionally, workers’ compensation attorney Beatriz A. Trejo was named to the 2021 Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” listing, which is awarded to just 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. Trejo was also included to “The Top Women Attorneys in Southern California — Rising Stars” list.

“It’s an amazing honor for a majority of our lawyer team here at Chain | Cohn | Stiles to earn the ‘Super Lawyers’ distinction,” said firm managing partner David Cohn. “The recognition speaks to our firm’s commitment and dedication to helping injured people in Kern County.”

 

‘SUPER LAWYERS’ PROGRAM

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Each year, the Super Lawyers selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.  According to the program, Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews. The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used to resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting an attorney, the program limits the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public.

As part of the honor, those selected are highlighted in issues of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine alongside other awarded legal professionals. They also receive profiles on superlawyers.com.

In 2018, Chain | Cohn | Stiles received a resolution from the California Legislature for having all of its partners listed as Southern California Super Lawyers.

 

‘SUPER LAWYERS’ AT CHAIN | COHN | STILES

David K. Cohn is the  managing partner of the firm and one of the most highly regarded trial lawyers in California. Year after year, he is named one of the top attorneys in the “Best Lawyer” category by the Bakersfield Californian Reader’s Choice Poll. He is a Martindale-Hubbell AV preeminent-rated trial attorney. Most recently, he was recognized in the Best Lawyers in America program, which is the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world. David grew up in Bakersfield, graduating from West High School, before going on to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. Shortly thereafter, he obtained his law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. David is a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates. He has also previously served on the Board of Governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and as past President of the Kern County Trial Lawyers Association. He was selected to join the International Society of Barristers, a widely-respected invitation-only group whose aim it is to preserve trial by jury, the adversary system and an independent judiciary. He was also recognized by his peers in the local “Top Attorneys” poll highlighting the best lawyers in their practice areas.

James A. Yoro manages the firm’s workers’ compensation practice, is also a Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional, and is one of the most veteran and most respected workers’ compensation lawyers in California. James attended Garces Memorial High School, before obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his law degree from the UC Berkeley School of Law. Following law school, he worked as a staff attorney with Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance before joining the firm as an associate in 1982, and becoming a partner in 1987. He is the past president of Kern County Bar Association, and was recently recognized in the Best Lawyers in America program, which is the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world. He was also recognized by his peers in the local “Top Attorneys” poll highlighting the best local lawyers in their practice areas. Over the course of his career, James has argued cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. He is also responsible for securing a $4.5 million Workers’ Compensation settlement on behalf of his client, one of the largest such settlements in Kern County. He’s served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, on the Board of Governors for the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, and the Board of Directors for Kern Regional Center. Currently, he serves on the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Bakersfield Advisory Committee, as well as a board member for the CSU Bakersfield Kegley Institute of Ethics.

Matthew C. Clark is a rising star in the Central Valley legal community, and in California. Matt grew up in Bakersfield, graduating from Garces Memorial High School. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University, before attending law school at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. He joined the firm in 2006, after serving as a litigation associate at another local law firm for five years. In 2011, Matt attended and graduated from the American Board of Trial Advocates’ National Trial College at Harvard Law School. He was honored as one of the 20 Under 40 People to Watch by Bakersfield Life Magazine. He frequently provides expert legal opinions for news media stories, speaks to local high school coaches regarding liability in athletics, and provides advice to local residents in workshops focusing on home and auto insurance and liability issues. He served as president of the Board of Directors for Clinica Sierra Vista (until 2017), and also served on the Board of Directors for the San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation (now known as Adventist Health). He sits on the planning committee for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County’s annual event, Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, and is a board member on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board. Matt also is a board member for Children’s Advocates Resource Endowment (C.A.R.E.), a nonprofit that raises money for local children’s charities.

Beatriz A. Trejo is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation and a recipient of the “Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year” award in California. She attended Highland High School in Bakersfield before earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Bakersfield and her master’s degree in political science from Cal State Northridge. She earned her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio. She has practiced in front of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board since 2012. She began her practice as a defense attorney, representing, self-insured employers, insurance companies, private employers, municipalities, school districts, and governmental entities in all aspects of workers’ compensation defense. In 2015, began representing injured workers through her work at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. She is past president of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), Bakersfield Chapter, and has been named as one of the 20 Under 40 People to Watch by Bakersfield Life Magazine. She was also recently recognized by her peers in the “Top Attorneys” poll voted on by local lawyers, highlighting the best lawyers in their practice areas. She is an active member of CAAA’s Latino Caucus, and serves on the panels of the Immigration Justice Collaborative, which aims to educate immigrants on their constitutional rights. She is a frequent speaker for Kern County Small Business Academies, educating new business owners on work injury laws, and serves on the CSU Bakersfield Pre-Law Advisory Committee, helping aspiring lawyers. Outside of the office, she supports her community through local organization including Latina Leaders of Kern County, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation for Community Wellness. Beatriz is fluent in Spanish, and appears on local Spanish radio stations, assisting local residents with their legal questions.

To learn more about each of the attorney and their practice areas, visit chainlaw.com.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches new educational grant program open to all Kern County students

February 3, 2021 | 5:00 am


While schooling may look different these days, one thing that hasn’t changed is the very real costs of education, which includes computers, textbooks, college application fees, and other school supplies and needs.

In an effort to help local students with the higher costs of education, local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has introduced a new grant and educational video program open to all Kern County students.

The “Chats with Chain | Cohn | Stiles” educational grants program aims to give away $500 educational grants. How can students apply? Simple. Kern County students can visit bit.ly/chatswithccs, fill out the application, and ask our attorneys a question. It could be a question about the law, life as a lawyer, or anything in the legal field they may be curious about.

For the next 10 months, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will choose a question, and students will get to ask the lawyers that question on video at Scope Studios in Bakersfield. And, of course, they’ll get some cash for their education, too. Questions and answers will be posted on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles YouTube page for all to learn.

“We are especially mindful of the challenges students have faced during the pandemic,” said Matt Clark, senior partner at personal injury attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “This is our way of recognizing these challenges, and hopefully providing students with a little help, encouragement, and education.”

The scholarship application can be accessed at chainlaw.com, or by visiting the short URL http://bit.ly/chatswithccs. Scholarship program questions can be directed to [email protected]

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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‘CHATS WITH CHAIN | COHN | STILES’ VIDEOS

Chain | Cohn | Stiles ranked in 2021 U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Law Firms’

November 11, 2020 | 5:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been selected for inclusion in the 2021 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report.

Law firms included in “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers,” according to U.S. News & World Report. Achieving a ranking “signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.”

A law firm must have at least one attorney who has received high enough peer reviews to be recognized in the current “Best Lawyers in America” program, which is the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has two attorneys selected as “Best Lawyers.” David K. Cohn, managing partner at the law firm, was selected into the personal injury litigation category of Best Lawyers in America, while James A. Yoro, senior partner at the firm, was selected into the workers’ compensation law listings. They join the top 5 percent of practicing attorneys in the United States in being selected.

The “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. Clients are asked to provide feedback on firm practice groups, addressing expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm. Some clients chose to write comments about their experiences with the law firms. Law firms were asked to provide us with general demographic and background information on the law firm and attorneys and other data that speaks to the strengths of a law firm’s practice areas.

“U.S. News has more than three decades of experience evaluating key institutions in society and their service to consumers,” said Tim Smart, executive editor at U.S. News. “Law firms perform a vital role, and ranking them is a key extension of our overall mission to help individuals and companies alike make important decisions.”

This year’s rankings were based on the highest lawyer and firm participation on record, incorporating 8.3 million evaluations of more than 110,000 individual leading lawyers from more than 22,000 firms.

“For the 2021 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we first started 11 years ago,” said Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers. “We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”

The “Best Law Firms” rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is an established and highly regarded personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm based in downtown Bakersfield, advocating for injured clients in the Central Valley and throughout California. Over the years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has obtained more multi-million dollar awards and settlements than any other law firm in Kern County. It’s also the oldest personal injury law firm in the area. In all, the law firm has received more than half a billion dollars in the firm’s history on behalf of clients.

The law firm includes attorneys David Cohn, Jim Yoro, Matt Clark, Chad Boyles, Beatriz Trejo, Tanya Alsheikh, and Doug Fitz-Simmons. To learn more about each attorney, visit chainlaw.com.

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McFarland basketball coach sentenced in sexual misconduct case; Chain | Cohn | Stiles civil case for victim is ongoing

October 28, 2020 | 5:00 am


A former McFarland High basketball coach has been sentenced to state prison after he promised a 15-year-old boy a spot on the varsity team in exchange for sexual favors.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the victim in his sexual misconduct civil case.

Fernando Pruneda was sentenced to two years in prison for the charge of contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense after pleading no contest. He must also register as a sex offender.

An investigation into the high school coach was launched after a McFarland High School sophomore reported inappropriate sexual contact with the coach. According to court documents, Pruneda repeatedly contacted the boy via text message.

Pruneda offered to take him to a basketball tournament in Nevada. Pruneda told the boy not to say anything to anyone, and to inform his parents that the whole team is going. He also informed the boy that they would have to share a bed. He would also tell the boy to erase the messages between the two. According to court documents, Pruneda began to offer the boy massages after practice. Pruneda called the boy out of class to give him a massage.

Kern County Sheriff’s Office detectives became involved after meeting with the victim and his mother, and texted Pruneda in place of the victim to arrange a meeting. They arrested him at the meeting location.

The civil case is ongoing.

 

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT LAWSUITS

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been involved in several lawsuits in recent years in representing victims of sexual abuse and sex assault:

  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles filed a lawsuit against the Wasco Union High School District on behalf of a student who was the victim of sexual misconduct by an assistant football coach at the high school. Miguel Nicholas Saldana pleaded no contest to sending sexually explicit messages to the student, was sentenced to six months in jail, must perform 720 hours of community service and register as a sex offender.
  • Our attorneys filed lawsuits in federal court against the County of Kern and a juvenile corrections officer on behalf of a young woman who was sexually abused at juvenile hall. The lawsuit was settled recently for $250,000.
  • Our lawyers also filed claims on behalf of several students who were victims of sexual misconduct at North High School. Kern County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Edwin Rodriguez on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, annoying a child under 18 and false imprisonment.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented Karen Frye, who was sexually molested at Lerdo Jail by a Kern County Sheriff’s Department detentions deputy. The law firm filed suit against the county for civil rights violations, conspiracy, sexual assault and battery, negligence, fraud, breach of contract and excessive use of force. The department also attempted to “buy off” Frye by offering her $1,500 in exchange for her agreement to not sue the department. That case settled for $300,000.
  • We represented a woman who was sexually assaulted by Kern County deputy Gabriel Lopez in her home in Tehachapi. Lopez sexually assaulted at least two other people as well. He pleaded no contest to two counts of assault by a public officer, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of sexual battery, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys also represented a 79-year-old woman who called the sheriff’s office during a dispute with her husband, who was diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s. She, too, was sexually assaulted by Lopez in a similar fashion to his other victims. The third victim was quietly paid $5,000 by the department, and was unable to bring a civil claim. In addition, the partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles penned a “Community Voices” article, calling on the County of Kern to cease practices that call for confidential settlements in lawsuits pertaining to victims of sexual assault, as well as paying “hush money” to those victims.

A new law in California allows victims of childhood sexual assault more time to file lawsuits, and seek justice. Assembly Bill 218 gives victims of childhood sexual abuse either until age 40 or five years from discovery of the abuse to file civil lawsuits. The previous limit had been 26, or within three years from discovery of the abuse. It also allows victims of all ages three years to bring claims that would have otherwise been barred due to existing statutes.

Here’s what you can do if you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused:

  • Call for help: Always call the police, a rape hotline or both following any form of sexual assault or abuse. This can be difficult to do, but the sooner you get in touch with someone, the sooner justice can be served.
  • See a doctor: Seek immediate medical care following a rape or sexual abuse scenario. Hospitals often have specialists trained to help in these types of situations and they often have someone on staff that can help with the stress.
  • Contact an attorney: After you have taken all the aforementioned steps, contact a legal professional, who has understanding of sexual abuse law.

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault and is seeking resources, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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