The death of Benjamin Greene and the legal issues surrounding it

July 12, 2017 | 10:06 am


On June 20, 2017, local lawyer Benjamin Greene collapsed and died while running in a 5K run at Hart Park. Temperatures were soaring in Bakersfield during the race, hovering around 107 degrees.

Immediately, civil liability and legal questions arose, and local media contacted the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for expert legal opinions.

Questions circled around waivers distributed to all runners by Bakersfield Track Club, water and hydration stations available during the event, aid stations and medical care on site, “assumption of risk,” gross negligence, and more.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury lawyer Matthew Clark was interviewed by The Bakersfield Californian about the incident. Clark stated it was too early to come to any hard and fast conclusions about the circumstances behind the tragedy — Greene left behind a wife and nine children.

Legally speaking, Clark said, it was important to explore two major areas in investigating the question of civil liability: the waiver ostensibly signed by each 5K participant, and a legal doctrine known as “assumption of risk.”

“Was there a waiver?” Clark stated in The Bakersfield Californian. “Was it signed for that event, that date? Did it have all the right language?”

According to the track club’s website, the waiver reads as follows:

“In consideration of this entry acceptance, I hereby for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, waive all of my rights for damages I may have against the County of Kern, the Bakersfield Track Club, the race sponsors, or any individual associated with the above and for all injuries sustained by me in this event. I attest and verify that I am physically fit and have sufficiently trained for this race.”

KERO-23, ABC News interviewed Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat, also discussed the waiver issue in relation to the “assumption of risk doctrine,” which looks at whether a person knows the inherent risks and dangers for participation. Greene posted on Facebook before the race that he was nervous about the race, and his preparedness.

On KERN Radio 1180, Chain | Cohn | Stiles managing partner David Cohn told host Richard Beene that the No. 1 factor in determining the liability is the cause of death, as well as the waiver issue. The Kern County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the cause of death.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA COVERAGE

5 notable case results from 2016 include motorcycle accident, civil rights, car accident cases

January 18, 2017 | 10:16 am


With 2017 just beginning, we wanted to take a look back at some noteworthy case results Chain | Cohn | Stiles obtained for the people of Kern County in their accident, wrongful death and workers’ compensation* cases.

 

$10 million — Motorcycle Accident 

In June 2014, 27-year-old John Doe was riding his motorcycle in the Oildale area. At that same moment, Doe Defendant was driving a mobile crane while in the course and scope of his employment with Doe Crane Company. He pulled out of a driveway and directly into the path of John Doe’s motorcycle, who was unable to avoid the collision. As a result, John Doe suffered catastrophic injuries, and after undergoing surgical procedures, he lost his right leg. Later, the plaintiff complained of impaired memory, concentration and behavioral alterations, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, pain, weakness and numbness in all extremities, and phantom leg pain.

David K. Cohn of Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented John Doe.

The law firm argued that the crane company negligently entrusted, supervised, and trained the driver, and also did not properly maintain the property, which created a dangerous condition that blocked views of employees from exiting the facility. Additionally, the company failed to terminate the driver, who had a blood alcohol level of .02 or above.

In early 2016, Chain | Cohn | Stiles settled the motorcyclist accident case for $10 million.

 

$3.4 million — Civil Rights / Wrongful Death

On the night of May 7, 2013, David Sal Silva fell asleep in front of a home in east Bakersfield, across from Kern Medical Center. Several law enforcement officers arrived on scene and proceeded to use unreasonable and excessive force in striking Silva with batons several times all over his body, while he screamed for his life and repeatedly begged the officers to stop.

After being repeatedly beaten, bitten and hog-tied, Silva stopped breathing. And shortly after midnight, Silva was taken to Kern Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

These events and those that followed after this night made international news, including the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of Silva’s family in 2013. Attorneys Neil Gehlawat and David Cohn represented the family.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, a settlement was reached by Silva’s family for $3.4 million. To read a full chronology of events from the case, click here.

 

$2.25 million — Car Accident 

Ms. Vargas was riding as a passenger in a car when a 2004 Ford Escape rear-ended her vehicle while stopped at a stop sign in Porterville, and suffered severe injuries as a result. The driver of the Ford Escape was in the course and scope of her employment with defendant VNZ Payroll Services.

Matthew Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented Vargas, who suffered severe personal injuries including fractured acetabulum, facial lacerations and scars, neck and back pain and a traumatic brain injury, confirmed by CT and MRI studies.

In July, Chain | Cohn | Stiles settled Vargas’ car accident case for $2.25 million.

 

$1.5 million — Rear-End / Car Accident 

Ms. Contreras was on her way home from a family function when she stopped at a red light at 24th Street approaching Buck Owens Boulevard. At that time, she was rear-ended by Stephen Domingue, who was in Bakersfield on business for Mason Specialty Tools, LLC.

The force of the impact was sufficient to push Contreras’ vehicle in the rear end of the vehicle in front of her. Domingue was found to be at fault by the Bakersfield Police Department for unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. As a result of the collision, Contreras suffered personal injuries, including traumatic disc herniation, and retained Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

The accident exacerbated Contreras’ lumbar spine disease and hastened the need for surgery and the need for early medical retirement. Doctors advised she would have some pain and limitations for the rest of her life. In 2016, Chain | Cohn | Stiles resolved her personal injury case for $1.5 million.

 

$1 million — Police Misconduct / Sexual Abuse  

This case arises out of the sexual assault of plaintiff Jane Doe in her Tehachapi home by Defendant Gabriel Lopez while in the course and scope of his employment with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Kern. Lopez is currently serving time in prison for the acts committed against plaintiff (and another victim).

As a result of the sexual assault, plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. She did not feel comfortable discussing the incident for approximately one year after the incident due to feelings of embarrassment and repression. Plaintiff’s expert psychologist has diagnosed her with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder, based on her interviews with Plaintiff and psychological testing conducted.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles represented the sexual assault victim, and in 2016 resolved her case for $1 million.

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For more results and case information, visit the Chain | Cohn | Stiles website at Chainlaw.com.

*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

These results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with country radio station KUZZ in awareness campaign

July 13, 2016 | 7:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to announce a partnership between the Bakersfield-based law firm and the widely-popular country music radio station, KUZZ Radio.

“Bakersfield’s best country music station,” as is the slogan for KUZZ, will begin airing 60-second audio spots featuring Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury attorney Matthew Clark, as well as workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro to assist radio station listeners who need help with their potential accident, injury or workers’ compensation* cases.

You can listen to all of these commercials spots below. You can also tune in live at 107.9 FM, 55 AM or visit kuzz.com.

The commercials will focus on spreading awareness of the following legal issues that listeners may have:

  • Auto and Pedestrian Accidents: It seems like every day in the news we hear about families being hurt in car and bike accidents, big rig crashes, and pedestrian accidents on the streets here in Kern County. But what would you do if it happened to you?
  • Choosing a Local Legal Expert: Law firms from out of town think they can come to Kern County and take your case. They pretend to be from here, but they’re not, and they don’t know Kern County. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has helping Kern County residents in Bakersfield for over 80 years, and has recovered more than half a billion dollars for injured clients.
  • Elder Abuse and Neglect: It’s tough enough putting your loved ones in the care of others. You trust they are in the best place, and cared for. But to learn they’re suffering, not being cared for, can be devastating. Chain | Cohn | Stiles can help you get justice.
  • Distracted Driving: Put down your phone, quit texting, and focus on the road. The last thing you want is to get into a car accident, right? But if you or your loved ones are injured in an accident, especially if it’s someone else’s fault, you need experts who can help get you all the medical care and compensation you and your family are entitled to.
  • Workers’ Compensation: A work injury can change everything. Whether it’s your fault or not, you and your family shouldn’t have to suffer.

Like Chain | Cohn | Stiles, KUZZ has deep roots in Bakersfield. It was founded in 1958 as KIKK and changed its name to KUZZ In 1960. Six years later, Buck Owens Production Company purchased the station, and still owns it today. By 1977, KUZZ was broadcasting country music 24 hours per day.

For more on the history of KUZZ, click here.

— By Evelyn Andrade for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know has been injured at the fault of someone else, please call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000 or visit chainlaw.com.

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 *NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine

All Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners named to Southern California ‘Super Lawyers’ list

June 8, 2016 | 9:09 am


Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat, attorneys and partners with the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, have been named Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, the publication announced this week.

This is Clark’s fourth straight year earning the “Rising Stars” title, which is awarded to just 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. It’s the first time Gehlawat has been selected.

And with the two Rising Stars Super Lawyers selections, all four partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have now been selected as Southern California Super Lawyers.

Attorney David Cohn was chosen as a Super Lawyer for the fifth straight year, and workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro earned the distinction for the first time, the publication announced in January. The Super Lawyers title is also a prestigious honor, awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement.

“It’s a tremendous honor for all partners in our law firm to be chosen by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine,” said Cohn, managing partner of the law firm. “And we may be the only law firm in Kern County that can say just that. The leaders in this law firm can say they are also leaders in our state’s legal system.”

Every year, the Super Lawyers selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. According to the program, Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting an attorney, the program limits the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public.

As part of the honor, those selected are highlighted in issues of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine alongside other awarded legal professionals. They also receive profiles on superlawyers.com, which you can see by clicking here.

The law firm has also received a resolution from the California Legislature for the honor, presented by Michael Bowers from Sen. Andy Vidak’s Office, and signed by Vidak, Sen. Jean Fuller, Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Rudy Salas.

Cohn, Clark and Gehlawat all work in Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury department, focusing on car accident, oilfield accident, civil rights, wrongful termination, wrongful death and other injury and accident cases. Yoro leads the firm’s workers’ compensation* department.

To learn more about each of the attorney and their practice areas, visit chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles responds to Kern County DA’s office decision to not file charges in wrongful death case

March 16, 2016 | 7:55 am


The attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles responded to the recent decision by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office to not pursue criminal charges against the deputy involved in the fatal crash in Bakersfield that killed motorcyclist Larry Maharrey.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim related to the crash. On July 14, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash.

Deputy Gomez violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. And the California Highway Patrol Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team suggested a vehicular manslaughter charge against Gomez.

The widow of Larry Maharrey, Paula Maharrey, as well as Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matthew Clark, shared their statements with local media regarding the District Attorney’s Office decision to not file charges against Sgt. Gomez in the fatal crash:

PAULA MAHARREY, WIDOW

“I’m very disappointed by the District Attorney’s refusal to prosecute Sgt. Gomez. My family is upset by the fact that the District Attorney and Sgt. Gomez are both employees of the County of Kern. It appears that one county agency is defending another, and it screams of a conflict of interest. We wish that an independent investigating agency such as the state Attorney General’s Office would look into this matter. We are also saddened by the fact that the needless loss of my husband’s life will do nothing to discourage this kind of reckless driving in the future.”

MATTHEW CLARK, ATTORNEY

“I, like my clients, are very disappointed in the Office of the District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute Sgt. Gomez. We’ve had four innocent lives lost in the county in the last four years due to the reckless driving exhibited by some employees of Kern County Sheriff’s Department. This is the most offensive kind of loss of life in light of the fact that people are being killed by those very officers who have taken on a duty to protect them.

“In an approximately 250-page report, the CHP Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team concluded that Sgt. Gomez’s conduct substantiated a violation of California Penal Code Section 192 (c) (2) – Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter. The District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute appears to be in conflict of interest given the fact that the District Attorney and Sgt. Gomez are both employees of the County of Kern.

Without question, Sgt. Gomez conduct in this case was in violation of Kern County Sheriff’s Office policy regarding emergency driving in that he failed to pre-clear the lanes of the intersection. His failure to do so killed Larry Maharrey. The failure to prosecute sends the wrong message to law enforcement, suggesting that they are above the law.”

MEDIA COVERAGE

PREVIOUS MEDIA COVERAGE

Employers: Avoid potential wrongful termination lawsuits by following these tips

February 10, 2016 | 9:00 am


NOTE: The article below, written by Chain | Cohn | Stiles wrongful termination attorney Matthew Clark, appeared in the February/March issue of the Kern Business Journal. The bi-monthly publication by The Bakersfield Californian showcases business and industry developments across Kern County.

To see the entire publication online, click here. To see the article in the Kern Business Journal, click here

 

Neither I nor my firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles handle cases for employers. In fact, we do quite the opposite. We represent employees who have been wrongfully terminated. With this in mind, I offer you some suggestions on what I look for in a wrongful termination case, or, as an employer, some things you should avoid.

When evaluating a claim for wrongful termination, I first look to see if the employee was subject to an employment contract. We see these most often with employees who are members of a union. The union typically negotiates a collective bargaining agreement, and that agreement often times controls the termination of the employment agreement. For example, an employment contract may require that the employer terminate an employee for cause. In most cases I see, the employee is “at-will,” meaning there is no employment contract.

Second, I look to see if my potential client’s employer violated California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA strives to prevent discrimination in the workplace. If an employee is terminated for a discriminatory purpose, that employee likely has a claim under FEHA. FEHA prevents discrimination based on age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disability, among other things. In Kern County, we primarily see cases involving age discrimination.

Age discrimination falls under the regulatory authority of both FEHA and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a Federal act.

At first blush, age discrimination is simple. If an employer fires and employee over 40 years of age, and then replaces them with someone substantially younger, that fired employee has established a “prima facie” case for age discrimination. Once the fired employee establishes a prima facie case for age discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that the termination was not discriminatory; hence, the employer must prove that the employee was terminated for a legitimate, non-discriminatory, business purpose. If the employer is successful, the employee may claim that the non-discriminatory purpose was simply a pre-text, and that in actuality the termination was discriminatory – and so the circle of allegations goes.

Oftentimes, the motivation for terminating an employee is mixed. For example, an employer may have acted with discrimination, by firing an employee in their 60s while replacing that employee with someone in their 20s, but the employer may also have evidence that the older employee was failing to satisfactorily perform their job duties. These “mixed-motive” terminations were recently addressed by the California Supreme Court in Harris v. Santa Monica. Harris requires, amongst other things, that the terminated employee show that unlawful discrimination was a substantial motivating factor in the termination. If the employer can show that the termination would have happened anyway, without discrimination, the damages the employee may be entitled to are greatly reduced.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to address the complex issues surrounding wrongful termination cases in this short article. Accordingly, I advise any employers with questions to seek out qualified human resources professionals.

For more information related to wrongful termination cases and employment law, visit chainlaw.com.

— Matthew Clark is a senior partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles where he focuses on wrongful death, wrongful termination and motor vehicle accident cases, among other injury cases for people of Kern County.

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If you’ve believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated, discriminated against at your job, or sexually harassed at work, contact an attorney right away.

For more information and tips on employment law, including wrongful termination cases, contact the attorneys at 661-323-4000. Also, visit Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ s website for frequently asked questions and answers, and other information by clicking here.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Law firm files wrongful death claim in fourth deputy-involved fatal crash in four years

August 18, 2015 | 10:05 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern related to a Kern County’s Sheriff deputy involved crash with a motorcyclist. Local media covered a press conference hosted by Matthew C. Clark and Neil Gehlawat from the personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm, which included the release of surveillance video of the crash.

Read below and click the links to see full coverage of the press conference and media mentions.

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(Bakersfield, Calif. – Aug. 12, 2015) For more than 20 years, Larry Eugene Maharrey, 59, worked for Golden State Drilling as a diesel mechanic to provide for his family. At his vigil, friends and family described him as “a good man” who would do anything for anyone in need. He especially enjoyed fishing and riding his motorcycle.

On July 14, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash.

Deputy Gomez violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. In what has become a tragic and unfortunate trend, Maharrey’s death comes at the heels of another wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of the family of Nancy Garrett, who was struck and killed by KCSO deputy Nicholas Clerico.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern on behalf of Maharrey’s wife, Paula, and other family members. Attorneys Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat – joined by Maharrey’s widow – will host a press conference to discuss the filing of the claim. A copy of the claim will be provided to media, as well as surveillance video of the crash.

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During the press conference, Paula Maharrey, Larry’s wife of 14 years, described him as a “crack-up,” a family man who would give his shirt off of his back to a stranger, and an all-around “good man.”

“I miss him every day,” Paula Maharrey said during the press conference. “I just want the Kern County Sheriff’s Office to take responsibility for their actions, follow their own set rules, and train their staff better.”

This wrongful death claim against the County of Kern follows another wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of Nancy Joyce Garrett’s family. Nancy Garrett was driving home from a Dodgers game when she was struck and killed by Deputy Nicholas Clerico’s Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car. Chain | Cohn | Stiles also represented the family of Daniel Hiler, who was struck and killed by Sheriff’s deputy John Swearengin as he crossed the street.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Claim filed against county in connection with fatal crash involving deputy (The Bakersfield Californian)

Family of man who died when his motorcycle hit a deputy patrol car has filed a wrongful death claim (KGET 17, NBC)

Kern County faces wrongful death claim in deputy crash (KBAK-KBFX 29-58, CBS-FOX)

Attorneys release video of fatal crash between KCSO deputy and motorcyclist (KERO 23, ABC)

Oildale man’s death comes as sheriff’s office tries to crack down on speed (The Bakersfield Californian – July 15, 2015)

CCS managing partner David Cohn named Southern California ‘Super Lawyer’ for fourth straight year

February 10, 2015 | 9:58 am


David Cohn, managing partner of the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has once again been named a Super Lawyer by Southern California’s Super Lawyers Magazine.

This is the fourth year in a row that Cohn has received the honor, awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement.

“It’s a huge honor to be selected yet again as a Super Lawyer, and to be recognized by the legal professionals I deeply respect, and work with,” Cohn said.

Each year, the selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The Super Lawyers program selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, according to Super Lawyers.

The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, the program limits the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, the Super Lawyers website states.

As part of the honor, Cohn is highlighted in the 2015 issue of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, released in January, along with other awarded legal professionals.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner Matthew Clark has also been honored by Super Lawyers. Clark was named a “Rising Star” in the Super Lawyers program, which is bestowed upon only 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. You can ready his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here.

The Super Lawyers honor adds to the list of recent accolades for the veteran trial attorney. Recently, Cohn was selected to join the International Society of Barristers, a widely-respected invitation-only group whose aim it is to preserve trial by jury, the adversary system and an independent judiciary.

He was also selected for membership into The National Trial Lawyers “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” program, a premier group of attorneys who practice civil plaintiff law in the state of California that is invitation only, and extended exclusively to attorneys who meet stringent qualifications and specialize in the legal practice of criminal defense or civil plaintiff.

In all, Cohn is one of the most highly regarded trial lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley. To learn more about him, visit his attorney profile by clicking here. You can also read his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here.

You can reach him at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling 661-323-4000, and you can learn more about Cohn and his law firm at the website, Chainlaw.com.

CCS managing partner David Cohn added to ‘Top 100 Trial Lawyers’ list

September 8, 2014 | 10:16 am


David K. Cohn, managing partner for the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been selected for membership into the The National Trial Lawyers “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” program.

He now joins law firm partners David V. Stiles and Matthew C. Clark as CCS lawyers who have received invitations to join prestigious National Trial Lawyers’ programs earlier this year.

Cohn was invited to join the “Top 100″ list, which is a premier group of attorneys who practice civil plaintiff law in the state of California. Membership into The National Trial Lawyers’ programs are by invitation only, and extended exclusively to attorneys who meet stringent qualifications and specialize in the legal practice of criminal defense or civil plaintiff, according to The National Trial Lawyers program.

The “Top 100,” it’s composed of the premier trial lawyers from across the country who exemplify superior qualifications as civil plaintiff or criminal defense trial lawyers. The national organization provides networking opportunities, advocacy training, and the highest quality educational programs for trial lawyers.

Just the top 100 trial lawyers from Southern California and Northern California who are actively practicing in civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law are eligible for invitation. Invitees must demonstrate superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a legal professional. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research, according to National Trial Lawyers.

Prospective members of The National Trial Lawyers’ are carefully screened prior to receiving an invitation for membership. The criteria used in the evaluation process include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reputation among peers, the judiciary, and the public
  • The previous year’s achievements, settlements and verdicts as a trial lawyer
  • Board Certification as a trial lawyer or trial attorney
  • Nominations received from leading trial lawyers, current members and/or our executive committee members
  • Leadership and membership within other national and state trial lawyer organizations
  • Rankings and ratings of the attorney by established organizations

As part of membership selection, Cohn will have his photo and biography displayed on The National Trial Lawyers website. You can see it here.

Cohn also received a plaque, which CCS will proudly display in the lobby of our Bakersfield office. You can see the plaque here.

Earlier this year, CCS attorney Matt Clark was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 40 under 40,” a professional organization comprised of America’s top young trial attorneys. Read more about this achievement here.

To learn more about Cohn, read his biography on the Chain | Cohn | Stiles website, or read a snippet of his biography below:

“David K. Cohn is the managing partner of the firm and one of the most highly regarded trial lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley. He has recently been voted Best Lawyer in Kern County by the Bakersfield Californian Reader’s Choice Poll. David has also been named a Super Lawyer in Southern California, an honor bestowed upon only the top 5 percent of lawyers in the region. David grew up in Bakersfield, graduating from West High School, before going on to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. Shortly thereafter, he obtained his law degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. While in law school, he clerked for then Federal Public Defender, John Van de Kamp. Following graduation, David returned to Bakersfield and joined the firm and eventually became its managing partner in 2000.

Over the course of his career, David has obtained numerous multi-million dollar results on behalf of his clients. In 2011, he recovered $10 million on behalf of a man who suffered serious burn injuries in an oilfield accident. He also recently obtained a $2.1 million verdict in a wrongful death case where a man was run over by a city parks worker at Jefferson Park. David is a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), where he holds the rank of Associate and also serves as the Membership Chair for the San Joaquin Valley Chapter. He has also previously served on the Board of Governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and as past President of the Kern County Trial Lawyers Association.”

CCS senior partner Matt Clark chosen by Bakersfield Life magazine as one of ’20 Under 40 People to Watch’

June 30, 2014 | 9:25 am


Bakersfield personal injury lawyer Matthew C. Clark has been chosen as one of the “20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine for 2014.

Clark was featured in the 20 Under 40 feature in the local monthly lifestyle magazine released Saturday, June 28, in The Bakersfield Californian. It was the second annual 20 Under 40 feature, where about 100 up and coming local young professionals between 18 and 39 years old were nominated.

“It was difficult to choose, but in the end, Bakersfield Life’s selection committee could only honor 20 of these shining stars who are doing brilliant things for the city they call home,” according to the magazine. “Each leader is making their mark in a different way; some own their own businesses while others have put in time and love to causes dear to their heart.”

Clark was honored with 19 other local honorees during a recognition ceremony on Friday, June 27 at The Mark Restaurant, the day before the magazine was released.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this group. It makes me proud to live here,” Clark said after receiving a plaque and several certificates from local dignitaries and elected officials. “I moved back here after school … And being around all of you reminds me of why I moved.”

The magazine highlighted Clark’s community service, inspirations and secret talents, among other things. It read as follows:

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Matthew C. Clark

Attorney/senior partner with Chain | Cohn | Stiles

Age: 38

Community involvement: Clinica Sierra Vista board, San Joaquin Community Hospital Foundation board, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Miracle Society member, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Walk in Kern County volunteer and board member.

Professional in your field who inspires you: Although this may sound contrived, I am honestly inspired by my law partners, Dave Cohn, Dave Stiles and Jim Yoro. My successes are a result of their mentoring and encouragement.

Secret talent: Since helping my in-laws build a pizza oven in their backyard, I’ve become a pretty decent pizza chef. Also, it’s been said that I have an “intimidating head of hair,” at least according to Scott Cox.

How do you hope to make a difference in Bakersfield? I grew up in Bakersfield, moved away for school and then returned. I’ve been back for about 13 years now. During this time, I have worked with clients of every imaginable background and one thing is universal to all of them — the need for quality, local medical care. Through my volunteer activities and affiliations, I have tried to commit my time toward this goal and will continue to do so in the future.

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You can read the online version of the feature and view more pictures at bakersfieldlife.com. You can also read the magazine version online here, or read the entire magazine online here. And you can pick up a copy at The Bakersfield Californian.