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ERICA PHAN

EDUCATION

ERICA PHAN completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics with minors in Accounting and African American Studies. She continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law. During her time at Pepperdine, Ms. Phan was a recipient of the Kimberly Dawn Ellis and completed a study abroad program in London where she held a Criminal Defense externship and focused her studies on corporations, international commercial arbitration and federal taxation.

BACKGROUND

After being admitted to the State Bar of California, Ms. Phan began her practice in civil litigation specializing in the areas of complex commercial and insurance coverage litigation, products liability and contracts. She gained experience in all phases of litigation including trial preparation, court appearances and settlement negotiations.
In 2012, Ms. Phan transitioned her focus to Workers’ Compensation defense and has practiced exclusively since. She excels in aggressively defending files while expediting closure through trials and settlements. Ms. Phan is well versed in all phases of litigation, including case in chief, lien resolution, and contribution and has received many favorable outcomes including several Take Nothings. Ms. Phan became a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation in 2017.

We are pleased to have Ms. Phan as an associate in our Newport Beach office.

GENA C. STRATEGOS

EDUCATION

GENA C. STRATEGOS completed her undergraduate education at the University of Southern California where she received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations with an emphasis in Strategic Studies. She continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from the USC Law Center and was admitted to the California State Bar immediately following. Ms. Strategos was admitted to the California 9th District Court of Appeals in 1989 and is a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Strategos began her career in Workers’ Compensation as a partner of a small defense firm representing large self-insured companies and municipalities. In this role, she gained experience handling client meetings, cross examining AMEs, doctors and raters, and appearing at trial. Her strong performance resulted in an increase in case load and level of service with major self-insured clients for the firm.

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown, Ms. Strategos was a partner at a large Workers’ Compensation Defense Firm. In addition to managing a large case load, Ms. Strategos was also in charge of training new attorneys for the firm. Some of her biggest accomplishments in this position were an Answer to Writ to the Supreme Court and an Arbitration which included a win against the California Insurance Guarantee Association. Over the years, Ms. Strategos has become an expert in the areas of depositions, arbitrations, appellate briefs, cross examinations and trials. She has achieved remarkable success in all phases of litigation and has received many take nothing awards. Ms. Strategos has over 25 years of experience representing employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators making her an asset to our firm.

We are pleased to have Ms. Strategos as an associate in our Long Beach office.

STEVEN A. SCHWARTZ

EDUCATION

STEVEN A. SCHWARTZ graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He went on to pursue a law degree from the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1993. Mr. Schwartz has also passed the certification examination as a Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation.

BACKGROUND

After graduating from law school, Mr. Schwartz assisted the Deputy District Attorney at the Office of the District Attorney of Sacramento County. His first experience in workers’ compensation was as an Applicant’s Attorney, before shifting his practice to defense in 1998. While working for several statewide law firms, he has held positions of an Associate Attorney to Managing Attorney and Partner. He also has experience handling matters of subrogation.

As an instructor for the Insurance Education Association (IEA), Mr. Schwartz provided training to legal and insurance professionals on topics including permanent disability assessment under AMA guidelines. His familiarity with rating guidelines have greatly assisted in calculating accurate impairment and ratings determinations, as well as assessing errors in AME/PQME reporting as to the application of the AMA impairment standards and reductions in permanent disability exposure.

Mr. Schwartz has appeared on matters at all Northern California WCAB Offices.

BRIDGET M. YOUNG

EDUCATION

BRIDGET M. YOUNG obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from San Diego State University in 1993. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego, School of Law in 1996 and was admitted to the California Bar. Ms. Young is a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Young has more than 20 years of experience in Workers’ Compensation Defense and subrogation. She was a partner at her previous firm and then went on to start her own practice in 2006 representing employers in Workers’ Compensation, 132(a) claims, and Serious and Willful Misconduct claims. Ms. Young is a member of the California Bar Association and the San Diego County Bar Association. Ms. Young’s experience includes working with several high retention insureds and self insureds, developing an effective team approach between the employer and the claims professional in Workers’ Compensation Defense and Subrogation matters. She also represents employers on Workers’ Compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution Carve-Out programs. In addition, Ms. Young has represented several insurance companies on personal injury and construction defect matters.

Ms. Young has been successful in trials defending LeBoeuf cases as well as AOE/COE denied cases. Her aggressive approach on post termination cases has resulted in numerous take nothing awards. She has utilized this same approach in defending liens and recently received sanctions and attorney fees against a lien claimant who engaged in bad faith litigation tactics.

Ms. Young is passionate about preventing the abuse of the Workers’ Compensation system , especially where fraud is involved. Most recently, Ms. Young represented an employer and by strategic use of depositions and sub rosa, the case was prosecuted by the San Diego District Attorney. Ms. Young worked closing with the fraud unit and prosecutor and she testified multiple times in the criminal trial. The applicant was sentenced to several years in prison and ordered to pay the employer restitution.

Ms. Young was an instructor for the National Business Institute lecturing on Workers’ Compensation law to insurance and legal professionals, and continues to speak at various Workers’ Compensation Conferences throughout the state. She opened the San Diego office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown in 2007, and is the Managing Partner.

As a native San Diegan, Ms. Young enjoys the local community, including spending time at the beach with her family and friends. Her hobbies include playing tennis, cooking and taking her 90 pound rescue puppy for long walks.

BROOK A. ADAMS

EDUCATION

BROOK A. ADAMS received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from University of the Pacific, California. She received her Juris Doctor from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California and was admitted to the State Bar the following year.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Adams began her career as a legal assistant where she specialized in intellectual property, patent and trademark law. She managed transcribing dictation, appeared in court, reviewed motions, and maintained client correspondences. During this time, Ms. Adams also worked a legal intern and learned the overall litigation process of contacting and prepping witnesses for trial, assisting the lead attorney during trial, presenting evidence to the courts, and drafting various legal documents including motions, discovery responses, and retainer agreements.

Since then, Ms. Adams has exclusively practiced Workers’ Compensation law and has gained notoriety for her extreme success with early settlement. Over the years, she has adopted an aggressive strategy and is a skilled negotiator. Ms. Adams possesses a careful attention to detail, which is demonstrated in her solid arguments in court. Growing up in Fresno, CA, it is only fitting that Ms. Adams is now our Managing Attorney in that office. Furthermore, her relations prove strong in these venues and she is well acquainted with the Fresno and Bakersfield Boards. Ms. Adams is a veteran attorney who is well versed in all areas of litigation, including directing depositions, appearing at court proceedings (including trials), and negotiating a variety of settlement agreements.

Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown is pleased to have Ms. Adams as Managing Attorney in our Fresno office.

KIMBERLY R. OGATA

EDUCATION

KIMBERLY R. OGATA received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Biological Science from Colorado State University in 1999. She received her Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in 2002 and was admitted to the State Bar of California that same year.

BACKGROUND

Born and raised in Kona, Hawaii, Ms. Ogata was a member of the Hawaii Clubs throughout her attendance at Colorado State University and during law school. She served as a Small Claims Clerk Advisor at the Superior Court in South Bay, San Diego County. Ms. Ogata also participated in a non-profit guardianship clinic in assisting walk in clients. Prior to joining the Newport Beach office, Ms. Ogata interned for a civil law firm in the intellectual property department. She joined the Newport Beach office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown in August of 2003 practicing Workers’ Compensation Law, defending employers, claims administrators, and insurance carriers with quality legal services for over six years. Ms. Ogata is also Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law.

MONIQUE A. GIUFFRE

EDUCATION

Monique A. Giuffre attended California State University Northridge where she received her Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology. Ms. Giuffre received her Juris Doctor from Whittier College School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar in 2002.

BACKGROUND

Mrs. Giuffre is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization Workers’ Compensation Law and has been successfully litigating Workers’ Compensation claims at Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP for over fifteen years. Ms. Giuffre has experience representing a breadth of employers, insurance carriers and third party administrators along with managing our Westlake Village office with tremendous success.

Ms. Giuffre has valuable experience in all phases of workers’ compensation litigation and has built a reputation for herself as an aggressive defendant advocate. She is often sought out for consult by employers and claims professionals on their Workers’ Compensation matters. Ms. Giuffre has conducted numerous trials on the case in chief and has utilized her experience and reputation to leverage favorable outcomes including several take nothings for multiple clients.

NANCY J. BROWN

EDUCATION

NANCY J. BROWN received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, in 1981. She received her Juris Doctor in 1991 from Pacific Coast University College of Law in Long Beach, California. She was admitted to practice in 1992 and became a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation in September 1999.

BACKGROUND

From 1981 to 1992 she worked exclusively in the medical field. This included consultation on a direct basis with physicians of various medical specialists including Orthopedic, Neurology, Internal Medicine, Psychiatry, and Radiology. She has an extensive background and working knowledge of how the various medical specialties interact with Workers’ Compensation cases.

Ms. Brown is a partner at Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown. She specializes in Workers’ Compensation defense, and is a former President of the Long Beach Bar Association. Ms. Brown has been Chairperson of the Orange County State Bar Association/Workers’ Compensation section and has served as a Judge Pro-tem. She was also appointed to the State Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Law Advisory Commission in 2005, serving as Vice-Chairperson from 2007-2008, and beginning September of 2008, Ms. Brown served as the Chairperson until 2009. Ms. Brown is consistently top ranking to the competition with our clients. Her aggressive approach to early file closures continues to keep her on top of our clients’ tracking measures. She is also a consistently sought after speaker with many of the Workers’ Compensation industry conferences to include RIMS and the Workers’ Compensation Forums of California for her expertise. Ms. Brown currently works out of the Newport Beach office.

PUBLICATIONS

WCAB decision published: Irvin v. WCAB/City of Los Angeles, 62 CCC 1297 (1997). Additional decisions can be sent to your attention per your request for any attorney.

HARVEY S. BROWN

EDUCATION

HARVEY S. BROWN received his Bachelor’s Degree from California State University of Northridge in 1969, and obtained his law degree from San Fernando Valley College of Law in 1979. Mr. Brown has been working as a Workers’ Compensation specialist after passing the exam with the State Bar of California in 1993.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Brown was admitted to practice in 1979, and worked as an attorney at the State Compensation Insurance Fund from approximately 1979 to 1991. Until 1986, Mr. Brown was an associate attorney, handling complex legal matters including defense, 132(a) and S&W’s. During that time, Mr. Brown also trained in and handled the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation claims for the State Compensation Insurance Fund.

In 1986, Mr. Brown was appointed Managing Partner of the Cerritos office of State Compensation Insurance Fund. In that capacity, he managed 15 attorneys as well as a support staff of 20. During that period, Mr. Brown dealt with various claims departments, providing direction, control and training. From 1986 to 1991, Mr. Brown also provided legal training, conducted seminars, and created teaching materials for the seminars for 300 attorneys with State Compensation Insurance Fund. During that time Mr. Brown also advised school districts and self-insured employers such as the State of California which would often involve meetings with state agencies and state personnel.

In 1991, Mr. Brown became an associate with Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown and in 1994; he became a partner with the firm. Since 1998, Mr. Brown has been a member of the Board of Directors of the firm and currently serves as the managing partner of the Newport Beach, Encino, San Diego and Sacramento offices.

Prior to opening the Orange County office, Mr. Brown was in charge of training all new attorneys with the firm. This included integrating them into the Workers’ Compensation environment, giving them complete training as well as monitoring their daily activities. As a managing partner, Mr. Brown handles all complex litigation including 132(a) ‘s and S&W’s.
Mr. Brown has been the Secretary, Vice President and President of the Long Beach Workers’ Compensation section of the Long Beach Bar Association. In that regard, he has also conducted seminars in the past several years on Workers’ Compensation issues for the Long Beach Bar Association, together with Mr. Allan Bass, the former presiding judge from Santa Ana.

Mr. Brown has also prepared a newsletter for the past several years, providing clients with the latest updates, and giving them legal and advisory opinions on the latest Workers’ Compensation laws. Mr. Brown also performs Workers’ Compensation seminars for his clients, and provides legal advice by telephone and/or e-mail on cases that he may not be representing clients on.

DANIEL F. VALENZUELA

EDUCATION

DANIEL F. VALENZUELA received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1977 and his Juris Doctor (Cum laude) from Arizona State University College of Law in 1980. He was admitted to practice in Arizona in 1980 and in California in 1982.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Valenzuela’s experience includes instruction in legal education as well as an attorney for the U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. where he represented the Department in hearings and appeals involving Workers’ Compensation claims under the Black Lung Benefits Act. He joined Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown in 1982 and continued his Workers’ Compensation defense practice handling claims filed pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Laws of California and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. He was certified as a specialist in Workers’ Compensation law in May of 1994. He is currently the firm’s President and Managing Partner of the Long Beach office.

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