The trial attorneys at Siegel, Yee, Brunner, and Mehta (SYBM) enjoyed a very successful 2022, winning outstanding verdicts and settlements for their clients. We look forward to continuing success in 2023 and beyond. SYBM urges people who have experienced violations of their rights on the job or at hands of police officers or other public officials to contact SYBM at (510) 839-1200 to discuss their claims with one of our experienced lawyers.
Here are just some of our victories during 2022:
In September, partner Sonya Z. Mehta won a $2.028 million dollar judgment in a trial against the Evergreen School District before federal judge Nathanael Cousins in San Jose. Sonya represented former Superintendent of Schools Katherine Gomez, who suffered wage discrimination as compared with previous male superintendents. Judge Cousins’ award included damages for lost pay, pension benefits, and emotional distress.
Sonya also won a substantial settlement against the Oakland Unified School District on behalf of whistle blower Cleveland McKinney, an assistant principal who complained of health and safety violations as well as discriminatory treatment of students at McClymonds High School.
In March, partner Dan Siegel and senior associate EmilyRose Johns secured a $950,000 settlement for Giuliana Mendiola in her gender bias and retaliation case against the University of California, Riverside. The University fired Ms. Mendiola from her job as an assistant coach of the women’s basketball team after she supported student athletes who complained about abusive treatment by the team’s head coach.
Partner Jane Brunner won a $1.75 million confidential settlement in a racial bias case against a large corporate employer.
In August, Dan Siegel settled attorney Kathleen Carroll’s whistleblower retaliation case against the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for $3.3 million. Ms. Carroll was fired after she complained about the Commission’s failures to timely process complaints concerning misconduct by teachers and other administrative failures. Dan tried the case in 2016, leading to a $3.5 million judgment, which was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
In October, EmilyRose Johns and associate Chan Kim won an extraordinary $504,000 jury verdict against the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in a trial before federal judge Susan Illston in San Francisco. Their client, Vincent Bell, was forced to hop on his one leg to an isolation cell with only a hole in the floor as a toilet at the San Francisco jail. Judge Illston also ordered the San Francisco Sheriff to change its policies regarding safety cell placements and cell extractions. This was an outstanding result for a prisoner who did not have medical expenses or other monetary claims. EmilyRose and Chan won a second jury trial for another San Francisco Jail prisoner in December.
Dan Siegel and Jane Brunner won a $725,000 jury verdict in San Francisco Superior Court in April before Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow against the San Francisco Fire Department based on its repeated refusals to promote Larry Jacobs to a position as an arson investigator. The jury ruled that the Department retaliated against Mr. Jacobs for his complaints of racial discrimination.
Dan Siegel was also a member of a large team of attorneys who successfully settled claims for the families of 33 of the 36 people who died in the infamous Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in December 2016. As a result of their efforts, the families received or will receive over $2.0 million each from Pacific Gas & Electric, the City of Oakland, and the owners of the property.
In December the San Francisco federal court approved the class action settlement in a case brought by SYBM attorneys Siegel, Brunner, Mehta, Johns, and Kim and their colleague Walter Riley based upon the conduct of Oakland police officers in response to protests over the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The settlement prohibits the use of many “non-lethal” weapons by Oakland police officers during peaceful protests, greatly restricts the use of tear gas and other chemical weapons, and requires the Oakland police to supervise officers sent to Oakland from other police agencies during street protests under mutual aid agreements to follow OPD policies on weapons and strategies. The settlement also provides compensation for 26 individuals injured by OPD during the protests.
SYBM successfully resolved many other cases in 2022, protecting the rights of employees, union members, prisoners, victims of police abuse, and people experiencing homelessness. We look forward to assisting you in your efforts to win justice.
In 2017 we reached a $325,000 settlement shortly after filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of a former high school student who administrators neglected to separate from her alleged sexual abuser. Now a college student, the Galileo High School graduate’s complaint alleging that the district failed to enforce a restraining order against a student who groped her repeatedly in the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. News about this case
Also in 2017 we settled a federal lawsuit on behalf of the estate and family of Yuvette Henderson, brutally shot to death by Emeryville police in 2015. News about this case
In 2016 we secured a $3.1 million jury verdict for whistleblower Kathleen Carroll against the the state agency she worked for and the individual supervisors she alleged fired her out of retaliation. Carroll was a staff attorney at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing who reported sweeping backlogs of potential teacher misconduct, nepotism, and favoritism to the Bureau of State Audits. The auditor later assigned to the agency called it one of the “worst-run” state agencies she had ever investigated. News about this case
In 2015 we successfully represented whistleblower Lawana Preston, resulting in a $613,302 jury verdict against the City of Oakland. She alleged she was fired in retaliation for objecting to a City official’s request that she falsify documents and for complaining that officials improperly negotiated labor contracts and willfully violated union contracts. News About this case
In 2014 we secured a $1.7 million jury verdict in a personal injury case for Enkbaatar Tsedendorj, who suffered a severe head injury causing permanent deafness after he fell off a roof. The homeowner had hired an unlicensed contractor to renovate his house; our client alleged that unlicensed contractor gave him dangerous instructions, causing the injury.
In 2013 we settled a discrimination case on behalf of Native American elder, activist, and basketball coach J.C. Eaglesmith. After protracted litigation, the Plumas County Unified School District and school administrators agreed to pay $850,000 to compensate Mr. Eaglesmith and a supportive colleague for racial and religious harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. News about this case
In 2010 the firm reached a $3.35 million settlement in a lawsuit by a woman who was forced out of the Fresno’s Fire Department’s training academy. Michelle Maher sued the Fire Department in 2008, saying fire training academy supervisors asked her personal questions, set her up to fail certain tasks and unfairly graded an exam. Siegel, Yee, Brunner & Mehta continues to fight similar violations in universities and the workplace. News about this case
Also in 2010 we were proud to represent the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) defending against a suit by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who they had broken away from. From our perspective, the goal of SEIU’s suit, which sought $25 million, was to completely eliminate NUHW. Siegel & Yee continues to represent NUHW in certain litigation matters. News about this case
After the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by BART police, our firm worked together with the Law Offices of John Burris representing several of Oscar’s loved ones. They were just steps away from him at the time of the shooting. They alleged BART police unlawfully detained them with excessive force, and that witnessing the killing of their childhood friend caused deep emotional distress, compounded by taunts and ridicule by BART police while in detention. News about this case
In 2005 we successfully represented UC Berkeley professor Ignacio Chapela, obtaining reinstatement with back pay. He had been denied tenure in 2003 despite strong support from his departmental peers. He and his supporters allege the denial was in retaliation for his vocal, influential opposition to a five-year deal struck in 1998 that gave biotech giant Novartis privileged access to UC plant research in exchange for $25 million. News about this case
In 2004 our firm secured a $766,000 jury verdict for two women who were sexually harassed by the hotel supervisor where they worked between 1999 and 2001. After an unsuccessful appeal and other feeble attempts to avoid payment by the defendant, we secured a new jury verdict in the amount of $1.3 million in 2009. News about this case