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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 Doctor 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, where she gained legal exposure through managing active and closed files for the firm. Later on in law school, she worked as a Law Clerk and a Legal Representative for the State Compensation Insurance Fund, assisting attorneys with case research, trial exhibits and organizing documents for discovery. While in this position, she also communicated with claims adjusters, drafted motions and briefs and argued a case in front of a Workers’ Compensation Judge. Her perseverance and negotiation skills even led her to successfully defend an employer from liability claims.

Prior to joining Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown, Ms. Morgan worked as a Hearing Representative for Pinnacle Lien Services managing Workers’ Compensation lien claims. Her strong communication skills accompanied with her knowledge of California labor and regulation codes have helped her achieve many favorable settlements for her clients. Ms. Morgan is familiar with all of the Southern California Worker Compensation Appeals Boards and their procedures.

We are pleased to have Ms. Morgan as an associate in our Long 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 Licensing Department of 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 legal hearings. Upon graduation from McGeorge, Ms. Burkat began working as a Claims Compliance Auditor for the Reimbursement Advocacy Firm where she advocated for the rights of Health Care Providers in payment disputes with Insurance Companies. Ms. Burkat has practiced Workers’ Compensation law for the past few years 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.

Ms. Burkat is an Associate Attorney in the Long Beach office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown

Long Beach

211 East Ocean Blvd
Suite 500
Long Beach, CA 90802

TEL:  310.831.0872
FAX:  310.831.1333

MICHAEL K. MARMER

EDUCATION

Undergraduate, California State University at Long Beach, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, 1973-1978

Graduate, Southwestern University School of Law, Juris Doctor, 1978-1981, Admitted to California Bar 1981

BACKGROUND

Mr. Marmer specializes in the following practice areas: Defense of employers and carriers in workers compensation claims arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Defense Base Act (DBA), the War Hazards Compensation Act, as well as representation of employers and carriers in civil subrogation of claims arising under the Jones Act, the Federal Maritime Law, and Suits In Admiralty Act. He also practices defense of workers compensation claims arising under the California Labor Code as well as civil subrogation in the California Superior Courts. I have jury trial and administrative trial experience in the U.S. District Courts, California Superior Courts, U.S. Office of Administrative Law Judges and before the Workers Compensation Appeals Board of California.

PUBLIC SPEAKING/LECTURES

Longshore Claims Association, Panelist, Attorney fee issues arising under the LHWCA and DBA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit.

Joint Department of Labor Bar Association which is a Claimant and defense counsel bar regarding practices and procedures under the LHWCA and DBA of claims before the federal Office of Workers Compensation Programs, and the federal Office of Administrative Law Judges

Hearing Loss Claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act; National Association of Waterfront Employers, West Gulf Maritime Association, June 2014

Hearing Loss Claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, Longshore Claims Association, Annual Conference 2014

DAVID UTLEY

EDUCATION

DAVID UTLEY received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Whittier College in 1973, and a Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law in 1977. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1978.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Utley has over forty years of personal injury trial and litigation experience in California and Federal Court venues with an emphasis upon claims arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, Defense Base Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Nonappropriated Funds Instrumentalities Act and Workers Compensation Appeals Board. Mr. Utley also has significant experience handling subrogation claims in multiple forums.

Mr. Utley was a Court-appointed Mediator in personal injury lawsuits for the Los Angeles County Superior Court from 1999 to 2014 and served upon the Superior Court’s Arbitration and Settlement Conference panels prior to that time. He has been invited as a guest speaker to the 2009 Northwest Longshore Claims Administrators seminar, 2010 Longshore Claims Association seminar, 2012 Chartis Defense Base Act seminar, 2013 Signal/LCA Maritime Conference, 2014 Loyola Annual Longshore Conference and Advance Consulting Incorporate Conference 2016. He has enjoyed an “AV- Preeminent 5.0 out of 5″ Martindale-Hubble Peer Review Rating for the past 19 years.

Following a thirty-two year career representing injured workers, Mr. Utley joined Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown in 2011 where he focuses his attention on the defense of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and Defense Base Act claims, and representing the subrogation interests of employers and carriers.

SHAWN S. HAGHIGHI

EDUCATION

SHAWN S. HAGHIGHI graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English (British Literature) and a minor in Policy Studies. He received his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and was admitted to the State Bar of California the same year.

BACKGROUND

At Loyola, Mr. Haghighi was an active member in Phi Alpha Delta International Law Fraternity, a Judicial Extern for the Los Angeles Superior Court, an d volunteered for two years for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) assisting low income families. In law school, Mr. Haghighi also served as a law clerk for the state’s leading firm in enforcement of family support judgments as well as interning for the business affairs department in one of the nation’s largest talent agencies.

Following law school, Mr. Haghighi served as an Associate Attorney in a well-known Orange County Plaintiff’s firm handling a wide variety of claims including products liability, medical negligence, vehicular negligence, elder abuse, child sexual abuse and neglect, sexual harassment, employment discrimination and class action lawsuits. He also had the opportunity to serve in an in-house counsel capacity for a high-volume Orange County firm where he continued to handle Plaintiff’s personal injury matters, as well as gaining experience in consumer bankruptcies. Thereafter, Mr. Haghighi became an Associate Attorney for an Insurance Defense firm, exclusively handling matters for a large insurance authority, on behalf of self-insured cities, towns, and other public entities. He defended these entities in a variety of matters including dangerous condition of public property, nuisance, fraud, civil rights claims, contract, and inverse condemnation.

In the years since joining the law offices of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela and Brown as an associate attorney, Mr. Haghighi has been handling Workers’ Compensation Defense in our Long Beach office from inception to resolution, including both state matters and cases under federal jurisdiction.

JAMES A. MORRISON

EDUCATION

JAMES A. MORRISON received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Business Economics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1979. He received his Masters in Business Administration from Dowling College in New York in 1981. Mr. Morrison received his Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1986. He was admitted to practice in the State of California in 1987.

BACKGROUND

Mr. Morrison has been a Workers’ Compensation attorney for Wausau Insurance, Kemper Insurance, and TIG Insurance Company. He joined the Long Beach office of Samuelsen, Gonzalez, Valenzuela & Brown in February of 1999 solely practicing Workers’ Compensation Defense.

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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