Text Us Now for a Free Case Evaluation
42 Years - A Professional Law Corporation - Helping Asbestos Victims Since 1974

Frank Fernandez

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.

Appeals Court Upholds $5 Million Verdict for Malignant Mesothelioma Patient

malignant mesothelioma

James Hellam

Our mesothelioma law firm is pleased to announce that a California court of appeals has upheld a $5,437,882 verdict for malignant mesothelioma patient James Hellam against industrial-products supplier Crane Co. (Hellam v. Crane Co., Nos. A138013 and A139141, 2014 WL 1492725 Cal. Ct. App., 1st Dist. Apr. 16, 2014).

Kazan Law partners Frank Fernandez and Dianna Lyons, now retired, won the original verdict last March for Hellam, a 66 year-old motivational speaker and former police officer. Kazan Law attorneys Ted Pelletier and Ian Rivamonte led the successful appeal. The appellate court held that evidence supported the finding that Crane’s gaskets and cement were defectively designed because they emitted and exposed Hellam to significant levels of toxic asbestos fibers during ordinary use. The court agreed that the jury rightly attributed Crane’s products being the cause of Hellam’s malignant mesothelioma.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s award of over $85,000 in litigation costs to Hellam and the following compensation for damages:

  • Economic damages = $937, 882.56
  • Non-economic damages = $4,500,000.00
  • Total = $5,437.882.56

A Hall of Fame softball player, Hellam had taken great pride in coaching his two sons on the ball field and was greatly looking forward to teaching his young grandsons how to play his beloved sport. Hellam had also anticipated continuing his career as a global motivational speaker for at least another decade and continuing to travel the world with his wife.

Now instead of doing the things he loved with the people he loved and enriching the world around him, James Hellam is struggling to withstand the ravages of malignant mesothelioma.

Although he had spent 13 years as a San Jose police officer before becoming a motivational speaker and leadership trainer, the seeds of Hellam’s malignant mesothelioma were sown longer ago in his past. For five consecutive summers as a kid, he worked for his grandfather’s boiler business in Monterey.

Neither Hellam nor his grandfather were warned that the products purchased from Crane’s “Crane Supply” wholesale outlet in Salinas, California for the process of refurbishing boilers contained asbestos and were a health hazard. Yet our firm presented evidence showing that Crane corporate officers knew or should have known as early as the 1930s that asbestos causes diseases that kill.

Talking With Dianna Lyons, A Fearless Ally in Asbestos Litigation

Dianna Lyons

Dianna Lyons

Here at Kazan Law, one of the top asbestos litigation law firms in the nation, all of our attorneys excel at advocating for victims of asbestos exposure and their families. But in the 40 years that we have been practicing asbestos litigation, one of the best attorneys I’ve had working here was Dianna Lyons.

So for today’s Throwback Thursday post commemorating Kazan Law’s 40th Anniversary, I spoke with Dianna, who retired from Kazan Law in December.

Unlike most attorneys, Dianna Lyons came from a family of California migrant farm workers. This background gave her a powerful connection to our clients.  To all of us who work so vigorously to get justice for asbestos victims, our clients become almost like family. That was certainly true for Dianna, and that gave her an intensity and focus we all admired.

“Every client I ever represented for Kazan Law was a salt-of-the-earth type of person. Working long hours on their cases in a race with the Grim Reaper, I’d get to know them all really well.  And I’d realize that had we met under different circumstances, we would have been friends.  I’d look at them and think this guy went to work to make a living, not to die, and not to kill his wife or his kids.  People who made and sold the asbestos materials knew of the dangers of asbestos exposure and just gambled with someone else’s life,” reflects Dianna.

When Dianna joined us in 1992, she had been working for the United Farm Workers, the grassroots organization started by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez to help protect the safety and basic rights of farm workers.  She had been with the UFW since its founding in 1966 during the era of the famous grape boycott.

Dianna had worked her way through Modesto Junior College and Cal State Stanislaus milking 150 cows twice a day. She told me she switched to working nights for an insurance company to put herself through law school at UC Davis.

“It paid less but I didn’t get kicked,” she quipped.

During her 22 years here, Dianna Lyons started our appellate and motion department. She also never let being a woman in a male-dominated field get in her way.

“In my family, what mattered was how fast you were at picking fruit in the fields. Not whether you were a male or female. So I never had a mindset with gender boundaries.”

Dianna said that one major difference from when she started at Kazan Law happened when the companies that made the most obvious sources of asbestos exposure such as pipe covering and block insulation began to shield themselves from asbestos litigation by declaring bankruptcy.  Asbestos litigation work became more challenging because we had to find the less obvious asbestos exposures from such products as gaskets, valve packing and vehicle brakes that contributed to causing our client’s usually terminal disease.

“We couldn’t sue the pipe covering manufacturer because they’d gone bankrupt, so we had to go after the companies that made the gaskets, packing, brakes and other construction materials,” she recalled.

“In a case that Frank Fernandez and I tried about 14 years ago, the client had worked for Johns-Manville. They went bankrupt and sold the plant. Our client made plastic pipe but to get to his job, he had to walk through the part of the plant where they made asbestos cement pipe.  That is where the asbestos exposure came from. We got a $20 million verdict,” she said.

“One thing that always remained the same is the dedication and zeal at our firm. I liked that we always did quality work.  Sure, it involved a lot of 16 hour days seven days a week.  But there was never a dull moment. There is something about knowing you are doing a righteous job for a really good human being that gives you energy,” Dianna said.

Get a Free Case Evaluation

Search Our Site

Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood

55 Harrison St. Suite 400
Oakland, CA 94607
877-995-6372

Mesothelioma Lawyers

© 2018 Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood.
A Professional Law Corporation.