{ }

MARIA XIMENA ZIMERI FERNANDEZ

EDUCATION

Maria Ximena Zimeri Fernandez went to Law School in Guatemala. She completed her undergraduate education in one of the best universities in Central America (“Universidad Francisco Marroquin”) she received her Juris Doctor Degree and graduated Cum Laude. She passed the bar in Guatemala and was admitted to practice law in 2018 as an Attorney and Notary Public.

After completing her undergraduate education, she completed her master’s degree and obtained an LLM in Pepperdine University in Commercial Law and International Arbitration. She passed the California Bar Examination in July 2019 and was admitted to the California Bar immediately following.

BACKGROUND

When Maria Ximena was in Law School, she worked as a law clerk and paralegal for three years in Carrillo & Associates, a prominent law firm in Guatemala, and developed great organization, communication, research, and analytical skills. She worked in the area of civil litigation but participated in various cases involving arbitration, employment law, constitutional law, and commercial law.

She participated in a National Arbitration moot organized by the Dispute Resolution Commission of Guatemala’s Industry Chamber and published her thesis related to the corporate governance of a private corporation and the legal action against the board of directors of a company established in Guatemala.

RECOGNITIONS

· Cum Laude, Universidad Francisco Marroquin
· Half Straus Merit Scholarship for the LL.M Program in Pepperdine University
· CALI Excellence Award For the Future Award in the study of Legal Research and Writing
· First Place for writing the best pleading and complaint in the 2016 National Arbitration moot organized by the Dispute Resolution Commission of Guatemala’s Industry Chamber

LANGUAGES

Maria Ximena is fluent in Spanish and in English.

JONATHAN GOWER

EDUCATION

Jon Gower graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He received a full academic scholarship to the University of San Diego School of Law, graduating in 2010. While in Law School, Mr. Gower represented tenants in unlawful eviction cases.

BACKGROUND

After graduating from UCSD, Mr. Gower spent a year teaching English in South Korea. He then returned to San Diego to attend Law School, where he met his wife. Mr. Gower passed the California Bar Exam in 2010 and worked for as a Law Clerk for the San Diego Superior Court. In 2011, Mr. Gower began his career as a Workers’ Compensation defense attorney. He has dedicated his career to the defense of employers in Workers’ Compensation since that time.

Mr. Gower specializes in complex cases involving multiple dates of injury, multiple employers, and/or multiple insurance carriers, including reimbursement and contribution issues. Mr. Gower has been to trial on numerous occasions, securing multiple “take nothing” findings on behalf of his clients. Mr. Gower has extensive experience with professional athlete claims, CIGA issues, and Professional Employer Organizations (PEO’s). His skills include working closely with the claims professional and employer to maximize results. Mr. Gower has appeared before all Southern WCAB venues.

In his free time, Mr. Gower enjoys traveling, watching sports, and taking advantage of the great San Diego weather with his wife and their dog, Buddy.

BRIANNA L. SACCARO

EDUCATION

Brianna L. Saccaro received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Charleston. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego; where she graduated cum laude; recognized for her outstanding academic achievement, earning a spot on the Dean’s Honor Roll for five out of six semesters; and received the CALI Witkin award for California Evidence.

BACKGROUND

While in law school, Ms. Saccaro served as a legal extern for several law offices and organizations. In these positions she learned the overall litigation process through conducting legal research, drafting motions, and assisting with overall case preparation.

Ms. Saccaro’s experience includes handling all aspects of personal injury civil litigation. She has also attended depositions and conducted written discovery and motions in insurance defense, including construction related matters.

Ms. Saccaro hails from New York and is an avid baseball fan. She enjoys running and being outdoors in the San Diego weather. She loves dogs and hopes to adopt one soon.

ALEX KIDD

EDUCATION

Alex grew up in Central California. He attended University of California, Berkeley where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. He attended Southwestern Law School where he obtained his Juris Doctorate degree.

Alex enjoys cycling, post-modernist literature, stand-up comedy, and hiking.

BACKGROUND

Alex has practiced workers’ compensation defense for over 12 years. He focuses exclusively on representing insured and self-insured employers in workers’ compensation defense and related matters. Alex litigates high-exposure work injuries, discrimination claims, as well as Serious and Willful issues. He negotiates the resolution of large loss claims, and has assisted clients in subrogation recovery on third party credit issues. He has represented clients engaged in a wide variety of businesses including but not limited to the following: transportation, construction; manufacturing; engineering; service; hospitality; retail stores; and healthcare. He handles work-related injuries, repetitive trauma, wage differential, and permanent and total disability cases.

Alex is an aggressive litigator who specializes in high exposure and complex claims for our clients. He is an experienced trial attorney and has successfully litigated complex issues before the WCAB, whether they are large self-insureds or public entities.

MEMBERSHIPS

Alex is admitted to practice in all of the California state courts, the United States District Court for the Central District of California and the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit. Alex is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is also a member of the California State Bar Workers’ Compensation Section.

SARAH O’CONNOR

EDUCATION

SARAH O’CONNOR obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Pacific Coast University, School of Law in Long Beach and was the valedictorian of her class. Sarah was admitted to the State Bar of California the same year she graduated.

BACKGROUND

Sarah began her career in the workers’ compensation defense field in 1996. She comes from a workers’ compensation defense family. Her father was a workers’ compensation defense attorney for over 35 years and her mother is a nurse case manager. Sarah started as a file clerk in her father’s law firm and eventually worked her way up to paralegal. Once her father became a sole practitioner, Sarah continued in her paralegal duties, which included extensive legal research, and also maintained client relationships.

After her father’s passing, Sarah continued her career as a workers’ compensation defense paralegal. She began working at Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP with 16 years of experience. Her extensive knowledge of workers’ compensation, with an emphasis on the defense side, made Sarah an asset to our firm. She was eager to further her career and began attending law school at night while working full time.

While attending law school, Sarah transitioned from paralegal to hearing representative. She specialized in pro per settlements and focused on obtaining settlement approvals on an expedited basis. During this time, she gained further knowledge of the workers’ compensation laws of California.

Sarah’s vast experience in the workers’ compensation defense industry allows her to provide an aggressive defense of claims. She strives for early resolution of claims to avoid further litigation costs, yet carefully analyzes each claim to obtain the most favorable outcome for the client.

Sarah is an associate in our Newport Beach office.

ROBERT MOORE

EDUCATION

Robert Moore received his Bachelor’s Degree in French with a minor in International Studies from Eastern Kentucky University. He received his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law where he graduated with honors also earning a Certificate in Global Legal Studies. His course of study included summer study abroad in Nice, France which notably included a course in Comparative Constitutional Law co-taught by the late Antonin Scalia. While in law school, Mr. Moore also served as an officer of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society. He competed in, and later coached the Alternative Dispute Resolution Team, and participated in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court.

BACKGROUND

While in law School Mr. Moore also worked as a law clerk for the two summers not spent studying abroad in Nice. Following his admission to the California Bar, Mr. Moore began working as an attorney representing clients in Superior Court handling injury cases, and subsequently began handling work comp injury claims. He obtained favorable results for his clients in the majority of his 8 jury trials in Superior Court. Mr. Moore transitioned to worker’s compensation defense in September 2010 and has represented carriers, employers and TPAs since. In handling the defense of workers compensation claims, Mr. Moore has aggressively sought and obtained early settlement on the majority of cases, and when necessary has successfully litigated many cases through trial, to Finding and Orders that Applicants and Lien Claimants “take nothing.” Mr. Moore has also successfully handled third-party credit issues, contribution/reimbursement/restitution, and other issues ancillary to workers compensation defense.

JOHN HICKS

EDUCATION

John W. Hicks graduated from UC Davis in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Mr. Hicks attended University of San Diego School of Law graduating in 2000. While attending law school, Mr. Hicks represented the homeless community in civil commitment proceedings.

BACKGROUND

After graduating from Law School, Mr. Hicks has practiced exclusively in Workers’ Compensation representing both self-insured employers and carriers. Mr. Hicks has also represented employers in relation to both Labor Code 132a claims and Claims for Serious and Wilfull conduct. Mr. Hicks has appeared on matters at all Northern California WCAB Offices.

Mr. Hicks has had favorable outcomes in numerous areas of Workers’ Compensation litigation. While many of his claims are resolved in the early stages of litigation resulting in client savings, Mr. Hicks has procued several “take nothing” Findings and Awards . Mr. Hicks has prevailed in overturning numerous unfavorable Findings and Awards by way of Petitions for Reconsideration. Mr. Hicks has also been able to procure favorable outcomes through physician depositions by eliminating exposure for pled body parts, permanent disability and industrial medical care.

KEVIN KOTTKE

EDUCATION

KEVIN J. KOTTKE obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2012. He received his Juris Doctorate from Pacific Coast University School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar that same year.

BACKGROUND

Kevin Kottke started his legal career as a part-time file clerk with the law offices of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, in 2009, while attending the University of Colorado, Boulder. He later transitioned to the lien department negotiating complex liens while resolving them in an expeditious and cost-efficient manner. After graduation from the University of Colorado, Boulder, he became a hearing representative with the firm, specializing in the area of in pro per settlements. Mr. Kottke continued to work full-time at the law offices of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, while attending Pacific Coast University School of Law part-time. After graduating from law school, he was admitted to the California Bar that same year.

Kevin Kottke’s extensive experience from being with Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, LLP, has enabled him to be successful in the outcome of intricate cases while addressing the needs of clients.

KELLY A. SIECKMAN

EDUCATION

KELLY A. SIECKMAN completed her undergraduate education at Fresno State University, where she received Bachelor of Arts in English, Magna Cum Laude. She continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Whitter Law School, graduating in the top 15% of her class. Ms. Sieckman was a Senior Editor on the Whitter Law School’s Law Review. While attending law school, Ms. Sieckman gained exposure to the litigation process through an externship with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. Ms. Sieckman also assisted in the preparation of a textbook, “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace,” while working as a Law Clerk for a reputable Employment Law Firm while in law school. Ms. Sieckman was admitted to the State Bar of California shortly after she graduated from Law School.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Sieckman is a seasoned litigator and has exclusively practiced Workers’ Compensation matters, including matters that have resulted in the prosecution for insurance fraud while working closely with the District Attorney. Ms. Sieckman also litigated a successful Writ with the 4th District of the Court of Appeals where the Appellate Court found that a fireman/claimant exhausted the Statute of Limitations when filing a cancer claim. Ms. Sieckman has been litigating workers’ compensation cases for over 20 years, and has an impressive record of Take Nothings.

PERSONAL

Ms. Sieckman has run several marathons, loves to garden, and spend time with her four rescue dogs.

MUAATH E. ALI

EDUCATION

MUAATH E. ALI completed his undergraduate education at California State University, Los Angeles, graduating Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. Mr. Ali received his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University, College of Law. While in law school, Mr. Ali received the highest grade in his negotiations course.

BACKGROUND

Muaath Eric Ali is an attorney at the Newport Beach office. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Ali gained a wide range of experience defending insurance companies and representing injured persons. This experience has culminated in his ability to expedite case resolution through the use of aggressive negotiation skills and the development of relationships with applicant’s attorneys. Mr. Ali’s case handling has had a direct impact on his clients, saving costs while effectively bringing claims to resolution.

Mr. Ali has clerked for two judges, worked for the California Department of Justice in the Business & Tax Section, and worked in the Business Administration & Development Department of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He is the past Director of Operations for The Learning Curve, a non-profit organization devoted to helping underprivileged children achieve their educational goals. He has been an invited speaker at multiple colleges and a mentor at California State University, Los Angeles, speaking to minority students about the value of an education. He credits his commitment to community and work ethic to his father.

Mr. Ali has experience representing a wide breadth of employers, insurance carriers and third party administrators.

Sidebar