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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.

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.

HENRIK KARAPETIAN

EDUCATION

HENRIK KARAPETIAN completed his undergraduate education at California State University, Northridge, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Law. Mr. Karapetian received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School and was admitted to the State Bar of California shortly after. He is a member of the American and Los Angeles County Bar Associations.

BACKGROUND

After admitted to the Bar, Mr. Karapetian started his own litigation practice, specializing in Family Law, Personal Injury, DUI and Bankruptcy cases. He has represented clients in a variety of different claims and gained experience handling request for orders, emergency motions, depositions and trials.

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown, Mr. Karapetian was an associate at a large Workers’ Compensation Defense firm where he defended insurance companies and self-insured employers in all phases of litigation. He is well versed in court appearances, having handled numerous status conferences, mandatory settlements conferences, priority conferences and expedited hearings. Through his extensive litigation experience, Mr. Karapetian has adapted an aggressive and effective litigation style that has helped him achieve favorable results for his clients. Mr. Karapetian works diligently to maintain strong relationships with his clients, placing their goals and needs as his primary focus.

We are pleased to have Mr. Karapetian as an attorney in our Encino 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.

JULIA T. MORGAN

EDUCATION

JULIA T. MORGAN completed her undergraduate education at the University of San Diego, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from American College of Law and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2014.

BACKGROUND

During her time at the University of San Diego, Ms. Morgan worked as a file clerk for a prestigious insurance defense law firm that specialized in jury trials across California. Later on in law school, she worked as Law Clerk and Legal Representative for the State Compensation Insurance Fund, where she had the opportunity to successfully defend an employer from liability claims. Subsequently, Ms. Morgan worked as a Hearing Representative managing Workers’ Compensation lien claims.

Ms. Morgan joined Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown in 2015. Her strong communication skills, accompanied with her knowledge of California labor and regulation codes, have helped her achieve many favorable settlements for her clients.

In her free time, Ms. Morgan enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter. She also enjoys discussing current news and updates in workers’ compensation with her father, retired Presiding Judge J. Michael Morgan.

We are pleased to have Ms. Morgan as an associate in our Long Beach Office.

PATRICK G. ROSE

EDUCATION

PATRICK G. ROSE graduated Suma Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology from California State University, Fresno. He then obtained his Juris Doctor from Southwestern School of Law, where he received an award for academic achievement in the area of Constitutional Law. Mr. Rose was admitted to the State Bar of California immediately following graduation and is currently admitted to all U.S. District Courts. In addition to being a lifetime member of the Golden Key and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Societies, he is also a member of the California Bar Association, American Bar Association, Los Angeles Bar Association and Sacramento Bar Association.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Rose began his legal career working as in-house counsel for Amwest Surety Insurance Company. He managed civil litigation cases from claim referral through trial and handled a wide variety of claims including defense and subrogation of automobile accidents, general negligence, premise liability and fraud investigations. Later on, Mr. Rose continued to practice civil litigation for a small firm in San Jose, CA, specializing in Insurance Defense, Governmental Liability, Construction Defect and Employment.

In 2001, M. Rose started practicing Workers’ Compensation law while employed with a mid-sized firm in Northern California. Although he managed some Personal Injury plaintiff casework, his caseload primarily consisted of Workers’ Compensation applicant claims.

Mr. Rose has practiced Workers’ Compensation Defense since 2002. Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown, he was a partner at a large firm in Northern California, specializing in Insurance Defense, Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. He served as the Directing Partner for the firm’s Subrogation and Civil Litigation Department and managed a caseload consisting of general/civil insurance defense, US Federal Litigation and Appeals, Workers’ Compensation Defense, Subrogation and Appellate work. In addition to his large role at the firm, he also prepared and conducted numerous seminars, presentation and webinars for clients. Mr. Rose prides himself on providing clients with superior litigation while staying mindful of client costs and expenses.

Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown is pleased to have Mr. Rose as an attorney in our Sacramento Office.

MARICELA PICAZO

EDUCATION

MARICELA PICAZO obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University, School of Law in 2003 and was admitted to the California State Bar later that year. During her time at Santa Clara University, Ms. Picazo was a member of the Student Admissions committee where she reviewed and analyzed applications for Law School candidates.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Picazo began her legal career as a Legal Intern for the San Francisco Office of the District Attorney where she conducted legal research and writing for motion hearings and trials in addition to assisting with overall case preparation. She later on became a Certified Legal Intern for District Attorney’s Office in the Juvenile Division specializing in legal research, drafting legal memoranda of points and authorities and trial briefs, and case preparation. As a Certified Legal Intern she also assisted with the in motion calendar, which included the presentation of oral arguments.

While waiting for bar results, Ms. Picazo worked as a Law Clerk at a firm in San Francisco where she gained experience in discovery review and claim analysis. She also assisted attorneys with case research, preparation for depositions, hearings and trial and the negotiation of lien settlements.

Ms. Picazo has exclusively practiced Workers’ Compensation Law since she passed the California Bar in 2003. For the first 11 years of her career, Ms. Picazo worked in-house for a large insurance company where she handled complex files for their national accounts. She is well versed in all phases of litigation, appearing at court proceedings and negotiating settlement agreements.

Ms. Picazo has worked for Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown since 2015, where she has continued to aggressively handle files, always with an eye toward early resolution. Absent early resolution she creates plans of action to move the file quickly through the process of discovery, negotiations and trial if necessary.

Ms. Picazo is fluent in Spanish.

Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown is pleased to have Ms. Picazo as an Attorney in our San Francisco Office.

AARUNI THAKUR

EDUCATION

AARUNI THAKUR received his Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his Juris Doctor in 2006 from the University of San Diego School of Law. While in law school, Aaruni spent a semester in Sacramento working on legislation in the California State Senate.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Thakur began his career working as a Staff Attorney for the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc. fulfilling a desire to serve the public interest. Mr. Thakur began practicing Workers’ Compensation Law exclusively in 2010. Since 2010 Mr. Thakur has defended not only private employers but also public entities.

In his spare time, Mr. Thakur enjoys spending time with his wife Pamela and amazing sons. In 2018, Mr. Thakur was elected to the Fullerton School District as a Trustee.

Mr. Thakur is an associate in the firm’s Newport Beach office.

SAMANTHA H. BURKAT

EDUCATION

SAMANTHA H. BURKAT obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from San Diego State University. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she was a recipient of the Kwong Scholarship. While at McGeorge, Ms. Burkat was also the Secretary of the McGeorge Federalist Society and a member of the Pacific McGeorge Education Pipeline Initiative Mentoring Program.

BACKGROUND

While in Law school, Ms. Burkat served as a legal intern and extern for many different law offices and organizations, including the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and the California Attorney General’s Office. In these positions she learned the overall litigation process through conducting legal research, writing memorandums, assisting attorneys in case preparation and participating in administrative hearings. Following Law School Ms. Burkat practiced Workers’ Compensation law as an Associate Attorney at a firm in Ontario, where she managed a large volume of files and represented clients in all phases of Workers’ Compensation litigation, gaining experience in discovery, depositions, hearings, negotiations, and motions.

Ms. Burkat joined the Long Beach office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown as an associate attorney in 2014, and has been representing a vast array of insurance carriers, third party administrators and employers in all aspects of workers’ compensation defense.

BROOKE M. DEIDRICK

EDUCATION

BROOKE M. DEIDRICK graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry and a minor in Philosophy. While at USC, she was a Dean’s List Scholar and a member of numerous honor societies including the Blackstonians Pre-Law Honor Society. Ms. Deidrick continued on to receive her Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School and graduated in the top of her class. During her time in Law School, she also completed a summer abroad program at Pepperdine School of Law in London and worked as an assistant to the Director of the National Civil Trial Competition.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Deidrick began her legal career as an extern for the Cancer Legal Resource Center at the Western Law Center for Disability Rights. Since being admitted to the California State Bar in 2004, Ms. Deidrick has worked as a Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney throughout Southern California. She has defended public entities, self-insured employers, insurance carriers and TPAs in both WCAB and alternative dispute resolution venues. In addition, Ms. Deidrick represents employers in defending against claims for increased benefits due to discrimination or serious and willful misconduct. Ms. Deidrick is a skilled negotiator who strives to resolve cases in an expeditious and cost effective manner for her clients. She is well versed in all phases of Workers’ Compensation litigation and has extensive lien litigation experience. Ms. Deidrick has been a guest speaker for RIMS, The Risk Management Society and for the CWC and Risk Conference in Dana Point as well as offering training on various subjects to clients on a smaller scale.

Ms. Deidrick is an Associate Attorney in the Corona office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown.

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