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Kazan Law Asbestos Attorneys Chosen for National Trial Lawyers Top 100 List

asbestos attorneysI am proud to announce that two partners here at our firm have been selected for the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 list for this year. The two asbestos attorneys singled out for recognition at our firm are me, Steven Kazan and Kazan Law principal partner Gordon Greenwood.

Membership in The National Trial Lawyers is limited to the Top 100 civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers in each state or from highly-populated regions of states. The criteria for membership include:

  • Reputation among peers, the judiciary and the public
  • Achievements, settlements and verdicts as a trial lawyer
  • Board certification as a trial lawyer
  • Nominations from leading trial lawyers, current members and Executive Committee members
  • Leadership and membership in other national and state trial lawyer organizations
  • Rankings and ratings by leading national evaluation organizations

Since joining Kazan Law in 1998, Gordon Greenwood has represented hundreds of people who worked with or around asbestos containing products, or whose families did. In addition to representing victims of asbestos disease, Gordon also maintains a caseload of pro bono cases. Prior to joining Kazan Law, Gordon spent eight years as a trial lawyer in the San Francisco Public Defender’s office personally giving quality legal representation to those accused of crimes without means to defend themselves.

I am proud of the expert team we have built here at Kazan Law over the past 40 years. Whenever we win a case for our clients, it is partly because of the thorough intelligent work that has been done in previous cases by our colleagues and the generous sharing of experience and knowledge here that we encourage. In helping each other we help our clients. And that’s the goal we all strive for here.

New Kazan Law Asbestos Attorney Talks About Her Work on Death Row

asbestos attorneyDawn Withers, a new asbestos attorney here at Kazan Law, already has a track record for helping to balance the scales of justice by providing legal help to those who need it most. During her years as a student at Golden Gate University’s School of Law, where she graduated with honors in 2013, she worked with the California Appellate Project, assisting clients on death row; and the Homeless Advocacy Project, representing indigent clients facing eviction.

“Performing public service is part of a healthy functioning democracy,” Dawn said when we spoke about her work with these two San Francisco legal nonprofits.

At Golden Gate, Dawn participated in the Honors Lawyering Program in which students attend intensive classes during the summer and then work full-time at a legal non-profit for the fall semester.

“I wanted experience in the criminal justice system,” Dawn explained, ”so I chose to work with prisoners on death row for those four months.”

Dawn assisted a team of attorneys and investigators who worked with death row inmates, including those at San Quentin. Located in nearby Marin County, San Quentin is home to the state’s only gas chamber and death row for male condemned inmates.

“I learned how important it is to work with a prisoner when they first arrive,” said Dawn. “It can be three years before they are assigned an appellate counsel and a lot can happen in that time. As a student, I was able to help the California Appellate Project attorneys to gather documents and interview the client to gather evidence for their appeal.”

At the Homeless Advocacy Project, Dawn spent several months assisting the group with the case of an indigent client who was facing eviction.

Working with the California Appellate Project and the Homeless Advocacy Project was a good fit for Dawn.

“It was a very fulfilling part of my law school experience to assist the attorneys at both these groups who provide legal services to people in crisis who otherwise wouldn’t have access to legal help.”

We are sure that Dawn will work diligently on behalf of asbestos victims and are proud to add her to our roster of asbestos attorneys at Kazan Law.

Meet Kazan Law Asbestos Attorney Irena Kin

asbestos attorneyKazan Law is proud to introduce our new asbestos attorney Irena Kin. Irena, who graduated cum laude from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2013 where she was a senior member of the Moot Court Honor Society, has a special affinity for the work we do here at Kazan Law as asbestos lawyers: empowering the powerless and speaking up for those whose voice is not heard. When Irena was three years old, she and her family left Tashkent, Uzbekistan as refugees and settled in Chicago.  They had to adjust to life in a new country with an unfamiliar language where they had no professional or social network, and no jobs. As Irina’s English skills flourished, she became at a very young age the voice for her dislocated family.

“I became their translator and as a result I also became their advocate and had to be involved in adult decisions and responsibilities,” Irena explains.

She went on to graduate summa cum laude from DePaul University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies prior to starting law school. Irena is a member of both the State Bar of California and the State Bar of Illinois.

Her early experiences inspired her to become a determined advocate for asbestos victims and we are pleased that she has come to the Bay Area from Chicago to join Kazan Law. Now, let’s talk a little more with Irena:

Why did you choose to go to law school?

Attorneys communicate persuasively, advocate for the injured, and fight to balance the scales of justice.  That sounded like a perfect match for my skills and goals.

How did you become interested in working with asbestos and mesothelioma cases?

Individuals suffering from mesothelioma are victims of corporate irresponsibility.  I wanted to help them seek compensation, and in doing so, send a message to companies that profits cannot be gained at the cost of worker health and safety.

Why did you choose to work for Kazan Law?

The people at Kazan are hard-working, passionate, and at the top of their game.  That’s the team I want to play for.

How do you hope your work at Kazan Law will help mesothelioma victims?

Unfortunately, the legal system cannot award improved health or bring back loved ones, but it can help to right injustice through compensation.  I hope to help mesothelioma victims achieve a sense of justice and cope with the financial burden of illness.

New MestheliomaCircle.org Website Provides Easy Access to Meso Info

mesotheliomacircle.org

We are excited to tell you about the recent redesign of our health website MesotheliomaCircle.org. We sponsor this site in order to provide resources and information about mesothelioma, its treatment and causes as well as how to pursue legal remedies.

We provide this information at MesotheliomaCircle.org to everyone free of charge with no subscription, log-in or sign-up required.

At Kazan Law, we offer experienced legal help to mesothelioma patients and the other victims of asbestos exposure. But we understand that mesothelioma patients and their families need more than legal help. Mesothelioma is a ruthless cruel disease that lies dormant for many years. But when it emerges it moves quickly. Mesothelioma patients and their families suddenly need to know about all kinds of important things such as tests and medical procedures, how to prevent weight loss from chemotherapy, how to prepare for a hospital visit and what experimental treatments are available for free through the U.S. government’s cancer research agency. Mesothelioma families also very much need some upbeat fun ideas like how massage therapy, pets, funny movies and even a little bit of dark chocolate can be of some benefit to mesothelioma patients.

That’s why we started MesotheliomaCircle.org. We want to offer support for mesothelioma patients and their families in a comprehensive meaningful way that tries to address all their needs in one convenient place.

At Mesothelioma Circle, we have a team of professionals dedicated to helping mesothelioma patients and their families to get the information they need to make informed decisions about their health, financial, and legal care.

We take special care to provide you with the most current information with links to the most credible sources available on the wide range of topics we cover.

We hope our new design for the website makes all the information you need even more accessible. Please check it out and tell us what you think.

Kazan Law Chosen For 2015 Best Lawyers List

2015 Best Lawyers

Clockwise from top left Steven Kazan, David McClain, Denise Abrams, Dianna Lyons

What an honor it is this year as Kazan Law celebrates its 40th year to be chosen for Best Lawyers highly selective list for 2015.

For 40 years, Kazan Law has made it our number one priority to fight for justice for innocent people fatally poisoned with asbestos by those who thought they could profit by getting away with murder. In trying to balance the scales of justice, we seek to empower the powerless and through monetary awards in some way right the wrongs that were done to them and their families.

That is all. That is enough. Our legal wins on behalf of our clients gives us all the accolades we need. And yet it is very gratifying for Kazan Law to receive this esteemed professional accolade from our comrades at arms, our community of attorneys.

Selected for the Best Lawyers list for Oakland in the categories of mass tort litigation and class action on behalf of plaintiffs along with me are my longtime partner David McClain, recently retired partner Dianna Lyons and partner Denise Abrams. For me and David both, this year marks our tenth anniversary of being part of this elite list. We are delighted and also grateful to our colleagues for highlighting us as their choice for these categories.

For us, one of the most meaningful aspects of being selected for Best Lawyers is that it is strictly a peer-based list. It is not a paid for honor. It can’t be bought.

In the words of Best Lawyer: Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer-review. The 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. Best Lawyers employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of the quality of legal services. Our belief has always been that the quality of a peer-review survey is directly related to the quality of its voting pool.

Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. For more than three decades, Best Lawyers lists have earned the respect of the profession, the media, and the public, as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals anywhere.

To our esteemed colleagues we say a humble thank you.

Kazan Law Summer Clerks Reflect On Asbestos Law Experience

asbestos lawSummer clerks at Kazan Law learn that asbestos law practice is different from most other types of law. Our historic stance on advocating on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure often pits us against the type of big companies that many law firms seek to represent. But we find that law students who choose to work with our plaintiff’s asbestos law practice for the summer are a special breed and passionate about serving the greater public good. As they leave us to return to school, here’s what this summer’s clerks had to say about their asbestos law experience with us:

Luis Landeros, third year law student at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

I take away from my experience at Kazan a reaffirmation that even the little guy who has been wronged can obtain some form of justice.

Law school focuses on theory and precedent so you never have a chance to really understand or comprehend the amount of work it takes to take a case to trial. Working at Kazan definitely made that clear.   It was an extremely valuable experience to work on the different stages of a case and seeing the interplay of different factors.

Tenette Smith, third year law student at the University of San Francisco School of Law.

One of the most important things I learned at Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood is how fundamental the law is to ensuring safety in the workplace; the place we spend the majority of our time each day.

At times it was heartbreaking to hear the tragic news of clients that had ultimately succumbed to their diseases.  However, I have an immense sense of pride to have been actively involved in the litigation that brought the families that the clients left behind a sense of security as they move forward in their lives without their loved one.  As I continue to grow in my legal career, I will remember to always be critical, to be aware, to be involved, and most of all to be compassionate.

Anthony Caruthers, third year law student at the University Of San Francisco School Of Law

The many individual meetings I had with my supervising attorneys changed how I will approach litigation and the practice of law in general. Moving forward, I will always keep in mind the influence individuals can have on the world and people around them. Every person I interacted with this summer was an excellent person who diligently sought justice for their clients. I had not experienced real passion for a legal practice until I came to Kazan. Such realness is rare today, and I now know that I will not be satisfied until I am in an organization filled with great people who desire to make a real difference in their community. I am truly thankful for the opportunity to work at a place like Kazan.

Yuki Cruze Before working at Kazan, I had only heard rumors of how much work it takes to put on a trial, but to actually see the firm abuzz with everyone working diligently toward a common goal was truly eye opening. I have gained many practical skills from working at Kazan, but the most important thing I learned is how important it is to be a zealous advocate in all aspects of litigation.

East Oakland Youth Development Center’s Creates New College Scholarships

East Oakland Youth Development Center We are proud to announce that the Kazan Law Foundation helped support the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) in creating several new college scholarships. Through scholarships funded by our firm and others, 45 students were awarded funds for the 2014-15 academic year. EOYDC has provided more than $400,000 over the past 10 years to students.

For the first time, we are sponsoring three scholarships, at $5,000 each.  Our three recipients are: Bryce Bell who will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Marisa Jolivette who will attend Cal State East Bay; and Branden Vonderwerth who will attend Nichols College.

The scholarships to this worthwhile organization were presented at EOYDC’s 10th Annual “Something for Everyone” Art, Wine and Jazz Reception. The purpose of this wonderful event was to honor East Oakland students who pursue higher education.

EOYDC does a superb job of providing summer enrichment programs to traditionally underserved populations. For example, this summer in partnership with the African American Male Initiative at Oakland Unified School District, EOYDC helped send fourteen participants, nine high school and five college students, on two-week educational visit to China for cultural, educational, and science related  lectures and field studies.

It is no secret that college costs have been skyrocketing as the average person’s income has declined. Yet education remains one of the most powerful ways to help create change on an individual basis. Rates of poverty are closely correlated with an individual’s level of educational attainment: one – third of Oakland residents who did not complete high school live in poverty, compared to only 6% of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to a recent Oakland Youth Indicator Report.

Numerous studies have shown that academic success is linked to individual and societal benefits, from improved employment opportunities, increased earnings, reduced crime, and improved self efficacy. We applaud the efforts of EOYDC in this important endeavor and appreciate Kazan Law partner Gordon Greenwood guiding us in supporting this worthy cause.

Judge Decides Asbestos Lawsuit Should Go to Trial

asbestos lawsuitAn old laboratory parts catalog provided an Alameda County Superior Court judge with sufficient evidence to enable Kazan Law clients James and Louise Leonard to take a step towards justice with their asbestos lawsuit.

Judge Jo-Lynne Q. Lee decided that their case Leonard v. Avantor Performance Materials, Inc., et al., (Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG13684263) could move forward to trial. The Leonards were represented by Kazan Law attorneys Ted Pelletier and Autumn Mesa.

James Leonard, now 71, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May 2013.  He had worked as an operator in Dow Chemical’s research department from the early 1960s to the 1970s. There he built and operated laboratory tests that investigated whether new products were ready for mass production.

Mr. Leonard’s exposure to asbestos began half a century ago and continued for nearly 10 years during his work in test labs where he wrapped glass lab equipment with asbestos and then later scraped the asbestos from the lab’s glassware.  This asbestos wrap and other asbestos lab products were supplied by research laboratory product distributor VWR, along with other asbestos lab products.

At his deposition, defendants’ lawyers asked Mr. Leonard to identify the brand, manufacturer and supplier of the equipment and asbestos materials he used during the 1960s and early 1970s when he worked in labs. He couldn’t do it and said he could probably provide the information if he was shown a catalog.  But the defense lawyers did not show him a catalog.

VWR asked the court to throw out the asbestos lawsuit because Mr. Leonard did not have and could not obtain sufficient evidence necessary for trial.  But the judge agreed with us that defendants’ failure to show Mr. Leonard catalogs at deposition coupled with his later identification of asbestos products from VWR catalogs demonstrates that there is sufficient evidence for the case to be tried in court.

We applaud Judge Lee’s understanding that the public‘s safety is a serious matter that should not depend on a lawyer’s game of “Gotcha!” Manufacturers and distributors of dangerous products need to be held accountable for harming people even when those harmed cannot recall from memory all the 50 year-old details about each product.

Kazan Law Helps Sponsor USS Hornet Lunar Landing Anniversary

USS HornetWhen the USS Hornet picked up astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. and Michael Collins from the Pacific Ocean following the first lunar landing in July 1969, according to a local newspaper report, the crew welcomed them aboard with buttons that read “Hornet Plus Three.”

Now one of the three, 84-year-old Aldrin will return to the aircraft carrier this Saturday, July 26 to celebrate the 45th anniversary of what Armstrong famously described as “one giant leap for mankind.”

Kazan Law is proud to be one of the sponsors for this historical event as our way to honor the memory and service of our hundreds of clients who served in the USN and worked at US Naval shipyards all over the country.

“Splashdown 45” will take place all day July 26 and includes a talk by Aldrin, one of just 12 people to have walked on the moon and a lifelong advocate for space exploration.

The day’s activities aboard the ship, now a museum, also include a cocktail reception and dinner where attendees can meet the Apollo astronaut.

“President Richard Nixon was aboard the ship when Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins arrived wearing masks and jumpsuits because scientists feared they might have picked up “moon germs.” The astronauts were checked out in a mobile quarantine facility, a converted Airstream trailer in the ship’s hangar bay, where Nixon talked with them through a window as just about everyone across the world with a television watched,” the media article states.

The Hornet’s exhibits include the quarantine trailer used by the Apollo astronauts and the Sikorsky Sea King helicopter used to recover the Gemini 4 crew in June 1965, which carried out the first spacewalk by an American. The helicopter is featured in the 1995 film “Apollo 13.” The Hornet has been a museum at the former Alameda Naval Air Station since October 1998. Along with its role in the Apollo 11 and 12 missions, the aircraft carrier saw action during World War II and the Vietnam War. A registered state and national historic landmark, the ship is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5.

“Splashdown 45″ will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 26 followed by an evening reception from 6 to 10:30 p.m. aboard the USS Hornet, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3 in Alameda. For information, go to www.uss-hornet.org or call 510-521-8448.

Kazan Law Partner Frank Fernandez Honored By La Raza Centro Legal

Frank FernandezKazan Law is proud to announce that our partner and colleague Francis “Frank” E. Fernandez has been honored by San Francisco La Raza Centro Legal, a group he helped found in 1973 while he was still in law school. La Raza Centro Legal is a community-based legal organization dedicated to empowering Latino, immigrant and low-income communities of San Francisco to advocate for their civil and human rights, combining legal services, organizing, advocacy, and social services to build grassroots power and alliances towards creating a movement for a just society.

The nonprofit organization’s new Frank Fernandez Endowment was announced at their 41st Anniversary Gala, an event co-sponsored by the Kazan Law Foundation. “The Frank Fernandez Endowment will allow us to hire an immigration attorney fellow in the coming year. Such is only possible because of the many donors who believe in our work and more importantly believe in honoring our founder Frank Fernandez,” said Carlos Osorio, La Raza’s Senior Law Program Coordinator. “We are truly honored that the Frank Fernandez Immigration Attorney Fellow will be possible.

Back in the old days, Frank was a labor lawyer working with the United Farm Workers of America, the group started by Cesar Chavez in the 1960s to support and empower Latino agricultural field workers. Frank’s experience working with the UFW and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, the AFL-CIO, and the California Department of Occupational Health & Safety (Cal-OSHA), showed me he was a lawyer who like me also was passionate about protecting the rights of workers to work in safe healthy work environments., someone who not only would fight for justice for workers when their rights were violated but who also was skilled enough to win.

I knew Frank was a great fit for the kind of firm that we were trying to build. And I was right.  I did not realize then that by 2014, Latinos for would become California’s largest ethnic group, making up 39% of the state’s population, but that only 4.2% of the state’s lawyers would be Latino, as the California State Bar reported in a recent diversity study.  Diversity has always been one of the firm’s goals. We believe that our staff should reflect the people we serve.

I am proud of all that Frank has accomplished on behalf of victims of asbestos exposure through his work at Kazan Law. I am equally proud of his pioneering work on behalf of the Latino community in his founding and ongoing work with La Raza Centro Legal and of the support he has received from Kazan Law’s foundation for this vital organization.

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