Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps local family affected by crash caused be alleged DUI driver

September 19, 2018 | 9:29 am


On Aug. 18, Bakersfield attorney Henry Noto allegedly got behind the wheel of his vehicle while under the influence, despite previously receiving two misdemeanors — in 2014 and 2016 — for DUI, according to news reports.

On this occasion, however, this decision caused severe injuries to several people when he failed to stop at a stop sign at on Highway 43 and struck another vehicle head on. He had a blood alcohol content of .16 percent at the time of the crash, according to CHP reports.

Noto, 62, was charged on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury in connection with the collision. According to news reports, Noto faces a felony with years of prison time.

Recently, The Bakersfield Californian spoke with Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark regarding the DUI crash that injured 26-year-old David Perez, who suffered substantial physical injuries, including a brain injury, when Noto crashed into his vehicle. Clark is assisting the Perez family in the civil case with charge, or pro bono.

The crash and case comes before the fifth Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash on Sept. 29, in which Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the presenting sponsor. The event aims to raise awareness of the DUI problem in Kern County, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

For more information on the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, and to register for the walk, 5K and 10K, please visit walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

You can read more about Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ involvement in the civil case against Noto below:

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By Jason Kotowski

A Bakersfield DUI attorney waived his preliminary hearing Monday and will stand trial in connection with an alleged drunken driving crash last month that injured four.

Also, new details have been released regarding the injuries suffered by one of the victims, a correctional officer whose vehicle was struck by attorney Henry Noto.

David Perez, 26, suffered “substantial” physical injuries including a brain injury, attorney Matthew C. Clark of civil law firm Chain Cohn Stiles said Monday.

“It’s going to be a long road for this young man,” he said.

The correctional officer is undergoing therapy at a local rehabilitation center. He can talk and carry on conversations, but Clark said it’s been his experience from representing others with head trauma that it takes time before the full extent of the injuries is known.

Perez had about 30 staples in his head after the crash, he said.

The firm is representing Perez pro bono and expects to soon file a lawsuit against Noto, Clark said. It’s likely they’ll be limited in what they can do for Perez, he said, because whatever money Noto has won’t be enough to pay for the officer’s treatment.

Noto, 62, failed to stop at a stop sign while exiting Interstate 5 at Highway 43 on Aug. 18, according to the California Highway Patrol. He hit Perez’s vehicle and pushed it into opposing lanes, where a third vehicle struck it.

The attorney and a female passenger, Heather Rush, 31, were also injured and taken to a local hospital. The driver of the third vehicle, 32-year-old Lucus Cotter, suffered moderate injuries but declined treatment, according to the CHP.

Noto’s blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent, twice the legal driving limit, officers said. He’s charged with two felony DUI charges.

Court records show Noto has two prior DUI convictions, both for misdemeanors.

“It’s the same story over and over again,” Clark said. “A guy with multiple DUIs gets into another DUI accident and causes substantial life-changing injuries. It’s getting to be an old story.”

It’s especially troubling, Clark said, because Noto specializes in DUI cases.

“He practices an area of law where he’s fully aware of the risks of driving while intoxicated,” the attorney said. “And he did. He did it multiple times.

“There’s just no excuse for it.”

Noto’s next court hearing is Sept. 27. He remains in custody.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash caused by a DUI driver, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Kern County calls for ‘No More Victims’ with 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 12, 2018 | 7:59 am


Kern County will come together on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Park at River Walk in Bakersfield to proclaim “No More Victims.”

The fifth annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash” – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds for local MADD Kern County educational programs, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes.

Each year, several innocent people die from crashes caused by people who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Those local lives lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families – are affected from this 100 percent preventable crime. In addition, Kern County is averaging a shocking 11 DUI arrests per day. MADD Kern County – together with victims, local businesses and community supporters – join hands to do something about drunk driving in our community.

“We pray for a day when no one else is hurt in a crash caused by someone driving under the influence,” said David Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “To accomplish this, we need to have our roadways free of DUI drivers, and it’s up to all of us to make sure our friends and family members always drive sober. It’s time we proclaim, ‘No more victims’.”

Since 2014, thousands of local residents have made their voices heard while raising more than $250,000 through annual MADD Kern County events. The walk and runs bring together the entire community – surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Victims of DUI crashes and their families, law enforcement, advocates and community leaders/members marching and running for the cause in a family-friendly event, with kid’s activities, fun run and costumed superheroes.

You can help by signing up for the 5K or 10K (walk or run), as a team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a free kid’s “fun run.” You can even get involved if you aren’t able to attend by signing up as a “virtual walker,” or by asking a donation toward a participant or team who has been affected.

For its work with MADD Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including in 2018.

  • MADD Kern County honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award during the 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.
  • The law firm was also nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference.
  • Jorge Barrientos, director of marketing and public relations for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, was awarded California’s “Volunteer of the Year” award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California, at the “Celebrating California’s Heroes” law enforcement and community recognition event in Sacramento.

To join Chain | Cohn | Stiles at the 2018 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, visit walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Pedestrian Safety Month: As pedestrian accidents climb locally, we all have a responsibility to share the road

September 5, 2018 | 9:37 am


Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in Kern County and California, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.

In 2016, 867 pedestrians were killed and more than 14,000 were injured on California roadways alone. Since 2012, pedestrian deaths have increased by nearly 33 percent, growing substantially faster than any other type of traffic-related death, BPD statistics show.

And in the City of Bakersfield, 47 pedestrians have been killed and another 473 pedestrians have been injured over the past three years.

This month for Pedestrian Safety Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with local and state agencies and community partners throughout Kern County, are urging pedestrians and drivers alike to be aware of each other at all times, and share the road responsibly.

“We all have a responsibility watch out for everyone’s well-being while walking, cycling, and driving,” said Matt Clark, senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “More often than not, these accidents are preventable. Pedestrian safety depends on safe walking habits, and safe driving habits as well.”

As an example, 12 pedestrians were killed when crossing the street outside of a crosswalk last year.

This month, Bakersfield Police Department is sending out special unit officers to patrol areas with the highest incidences of pedestrian collisions in Bakersfield. Officers are on the lookout for unsafe pedestrian crossings, as well as poor driving. Those areas include:

  • Union Avenue between Brundage Lane and 21st Street.
  • Wible Road and New Stine between White Lane and Stockdale Highway.
  • Ming Avenue between Hughes Lane and Gosford Road.

In February, the City of Bakersfield announced a “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan,” a partnership with California Department of Transportation to examine the city’s roadways and determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. The goal was to recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advocated and fought to raise awareness of bicycle, pedestrian and driver safety throughout the streets Bakersfield and Kern County. Each fall, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County.

This month and always, keep in mind these safety tips to keep everyone on our streets safe, whether you’re walking, riding a bike, or driving:

Pedestrians:

  • Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk
  • Make eye contact with drivers; never assume a driver sees you
  • Look left-right-left before stepping into a crosswalk. Having a green light or the “WALK” signal does not mean that it is safe to cross
  • Look for cars baking up, including white backup lights or signs the vehicle is running.
  • Don’t dart out between parked cars
  • Avoid distractions. Don’t walk and use your phone at the same time
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials at night

Pedestrians

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.

Drivers

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer selected to Bakersfield ’20 Under 40 People to Watch’

July 5, 2018 | 7:19 am


Bakersfield Life Magazine’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch” highlights outstanding young men and  women whom Bakersfield can be proud of, who possess a hard work ethic, dedication, and a passion for volunteering.

“Their success is only rivaled by their commitment to giving back, making our community better for current and future generations,” according to Bakersfield Life.

For 2018, the magazine selected Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation lawyer Beatriz Trejo as one of its “20 Under 40 People to Watch” for her success in her profession, and meaningful contributions to our local community. She and 19 others were highlighted in the July issue of the magazine.

Trejo’s inclusion on the list now makes four people at the law firm who have been selected for this honor:

This year’s “20 Under 40 People to Watch” honorees were recognized during a reception. In receiving her award, Beatriz was described by Bakersfield Life editor Mark Nessia as “someone who has achieved tremendous success in her career, and who has become a leader in the community. She continues to achieve in her job, advocating for those in times of need and her commitment to providing goodwill for her own town that will never end. She has experienced success through many hardships, which she has taken to use as a venue to give back and achieve.”

In particular, Trejo is involved in several local organizations on a volunteer basis including CBCC Foundation, Latina Leaders of Kern County, CSUB Pre-Law Advisory Committee, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation’ Small Business Academy, Kern County Cancer Run committee, and Immigration Justice Collaborative.

She is the Bakersfield Chapter President for the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), a statewide organization advocating for injured workers. Trejo is also is the board member on the CAAA Legislative Caucus Board Member, advocating at the state government level. Last year, she was selected as the 2017 winner of the “Young Workers’ Compensation Lawyer of the Year” by the State Bar Workers’ Compensation Section.

The following profile on Trejo was published in Bakersfield Life Magazine.

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If it were easy, everyone would do it.

That’s the mentality Beatriz Trejo takes with her in all aspects of her life as she looks for ways to challenge herself every step of the way.

That’s why she enjoys CrossFit. That’s why she went to law school, despite working a job she enjoyed at CSU Northridge, where she earned her master’s in political science.

Trejo attended law school at the University of Akron in Ohio and moved back to Bakersfield the day after graduation in 2011, starting her career as a workers’ compensation defense attorney for Hanna Brophy.

Despite working hard for her clients, Trejo felt her personality was better-suited toward protecting and advocating for injured workers rather than their employers. In 2015, she joined Chain Cohn Stiles as an associate attorney representing injured workers in workers’ compensation claims.

“An injury goes beyond a person,” she said. “It affects their entire family, and I don’t take that lightly.”

Trejo is driven by the fact that she has been on the other side and knows the benefits that can be negated to injured workers, so she strives not only to serve her clients to the best of her ability, but to educate other attorneys so they, too, can do the same.

“As far as what is motivating me, I think there is a true, true desire to help my clients and the community,” she said.

Trejo is involved with numerous local organizations, most notably, being a member of the planning committee for Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center’s Kern County Cancer Run/Walk, a cause that’s near and dear to her heart because her dad passed away from cancer in 2016 and her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer six months later.

“I’ve been a family member of someone who’s been diagnosed with cancer and I know how it feels and I know how much support is needed to get through something like that,” she said. “I very much understand that situation and feel like it’s happened to me and now it’s my turn to give back.”

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MEDIA COVERAGE

MADD Kern County honors local officers, Chain | Cohn | Stiles for contributions in local fight against DUI crimes

June 20, 2018 | 9:37 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County has recognized and honored our local law enforcement officers and prosecutors for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes, and also honored Chain | Cohn | Stiles with a “Community Champion” award for the law firm’s work toward raising awareness locally and helping victims.

The 2018 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition luncheon ceremony was held Wednesday, June 13, at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield (Liberty Hall). In all, more than 50 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded, as well as a prosecutor from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Awards were handed out to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer, among others.

“This is our chance to give a big ‘thank you’ to the men and women in Kern County who are dedicated to keeping our streets as safe as possible,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County.

For a full list of award winners, and to see media coverage of the event, please see below.

The awards ceremony was organized by MADD Kern County volunteers, and made possible by the financial support of local sponsors: Chevron, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, UBS Financial, Sally Herald CPA, STEPS Inc., and Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,120 DUI arrests in 2017, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Representatives from all local enforcement agencies will be in attendance.

The awards luncheon is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes here, the second being the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, taking place this year on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Park at River Walk.

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TOP DUI ARRESTING OFFICER OF KERN COUNTY

Officer Rodney Black – 120 DUI Arrests

California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield

PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD

James Simson

Supervising Deputy District Attorney of Kern County

PROBATION OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD

Officer Luis Gomez

Kern County Probation Department

COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD

Marsha Williams

A Life Interrupted

COMMUNITY CHAMPION AWARD

Chain Cohn Stiles

TOP ARRESTING OFFICER PER DEPARTMENT

  • Arvin Police Department Officer Kevin Archuleta – 9
  • California Highway Patrol, Fort Tejon Officer Jason Lachaussee – 11
  • California Highway Patrol, Grapevine Officer Rex Hornibrook – 2
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Don Mulligan – 61
  • Kern County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Steven Davis – 11
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Tyler Helton – 41
  • Ridgecrest Police Department Officer Jose Farias – 12
  • Shafter Police Department Officer Jeffrey McCuan – 27
  • Taft Police Department Officer Andrew Avila – 6

CENTURY AWARDS

More than 100 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Brianna Pace – 104
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Richard Robles – 103
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Dallas Plotner – 106

DEUCE AWARDS

Between 1 and 49 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Arvin Police Department Officer Jacob Pelletier – 4
  • Arvin Police Department Officer Emilio Quezada – 4
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Logan Holmes – 46
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Audrina Doll Schneider – 37
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Jose Diaz – 27
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Jacqueline Hernandez – 30
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Tiffany Salazar – 20
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Isai Ocampo – 28
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Christopher Denman – 27
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Sergeant Kelly Olson – 10
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Sergeant James Nabors – 14
  • California Highway Patrol, Fort Tejon Officer Jeffrey Burdick – 9
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Alejandro Zuniga – 31
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Sean Galloway – 26
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Roberto Souza Moita – 26
  • McFarland Police Department Officer Marisela Herrera – 26
  • Ridgecrest Police Department Officer Matthew Rowland – 9
  • Shafter Police Department Officer Anthony Erwin – 16
  • Shafter Police Department Officer William Draucker – 16
  • Taft Police Department Officer Chris Gonzales – 5

MADD AWARDS

Between 50 and 99 DUI arrests in 2017

  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Johnny Moreno – 93
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Andrew Marquez – 82
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Robert Tyo – 67
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Brandon Carey – 62
  • Bakersfield Police Department Officer Imadd Nuriddin – 50
  • California Highway Patrol, Mojave Officer Jason Carroll – 60
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Art Aldrete – 91
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jose Bravo – 51
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jaime Cervantes – 73
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Daniel Dinsing – 76
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Matthew Iturriria – 82
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Mike Galvez – 70
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Gregory Jorgensen – 71
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Ahearn Lucas – 81
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Brandon Matthews – 72
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Eric Medrano – 70
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Hector Organista – 74
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Victor Valadez – 58
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jessie Velasquez – 83
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Juan Vidal – 54
  • California Highway Patrol, Bakersfield Officer Jason Wood – 67

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Elder Abuse Awareness: Coming together to stop violence towards our most vulnerable citizens

June 13, 2018 | 3:36 pm


California sees 176,000 cases of reported elder abuse cases each year, with more than 4,000 reported in 2017, according to Kern County Aging & Adult Services.

What’s worse is officials estimate that for every case known to reporting agencies, 24 cases go unreported.

This month — during Elder Abuse Awareness Month in Kern County, with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day falling this year on Friday, June 15 — Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind everyone of the importance of speaking up for those who cannot, our oldest, frailest and most vulnerable citizens. Our law firm has been at the forefront in fighting for victims of elder abuse in Bakersfield, Kern County and throughout the state.

“We want everyone to focus attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders,” said Matt Clark, attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We all need to come together to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder-friendly policies.”

In a recent Eyewitness News story focused on the rise of elder abuse in Kern County, Clark provided information on elder abuse and neglect civil cases, and what people can do to make sure their loved ones are not victims. Watch the news story by clicking here.

Clark also was a special guest on The Moneywise Guys radio show to discuss “How to prevent + recognize elder abuse, not just financial abuse. You can listen to the show by clicking here.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation on June 5 proclaiming the Month of June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month and Aging & Adult Services in collaboration with the Commission on Aging, Kern County District Attorney’s Office and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services hosting the 21st Annual Elder Abuse Prevention Conference on June 14.

According to the Archives of General Psychiatry, by the age of 75 half of all Americans will have experienced a diagnosable mental disorder and yet, less than one-third receive appropriate care. Why does elder abuse go unreported? Many times, elders have no family to report to. They also fear retaliation from “caregivers,” or they feel shame in regards to abuse. Another reason is they fear they will lose independence, or fear they will upset their own family members. Many times, however, victims simply lack understanding of how to report abuse.

To report cases of abuse locally, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services or the Long-Term Care Ombudsman:

  • Adult Protective Services responds to reports from individuals, concerned citizens, social service and health providers, and law enforcement representatives about developmental disabled adults, physically and mentally disabled adults, and the elderly who may be physically or financially abused, neglected, or exploited. Upon receipt of a referral, APS sends a social worker to make a home visit or contact the elder or dependent adult.
    • 24-Hour Hotline: 800-277-7866 or 661-868-1006
  • Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates elder abuse complaints in long-term care facilities and in residential care facilities for the elderly. The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and endeavor to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in these facilities, including nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities. The goal of the program is to advocate for the rights of all residents in long term care.
    • Phone: 661-323-7884

And if you or someone you know experiences elder abuse or neglect, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the law firm’s specialized website focused on elder abuse at bakersfieldelderabuse.com.

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LEARN MORE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles nominated as ‘Corporation of the Year’ in 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards

June 6, 2018 | 8:44 am


For its work and partnership with the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of DUI crimes and help put an end to them locally, Chain | Cohn | Stiles was nominated for a 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Award.

The Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm was nominated in the “Corporation of the Year” category, which recognizes a company whose volunteer hours and/or financial donations have made a meaningful difference. The Beautiful Bakersfield Awards annually honors the efforts of local individuals, groups, businesses and organizations that help improve the quality of life in Bakersfield.

Learn more about the Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnership and the awards.

 

NO MORE VICTIMS 

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has played a vital part of Kern County’s community for decades and has played a key part in making a significant impact locally. In fact, a significant portion of the company’s energy and budget is dedicated toward giving back to Bakersfield, and actively participating in campaigns that aim to make our community a better, safer place to live. Attorneys and staff log hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours, belonging to local boards of directors and nonprofits, and actively helping with various local causes.

In particular, the law firm has worked closely with victims’ rights groups, specifically Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. The law firm and its staff have been key organizers of MADD Kern County’s annual events, helping raise nearly $250,000 in the last five years in the fight to end drunk and drugged driving locally.

“Without the contributions of the law firm, MADD Kern County would not be able to do its work in our community,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County.

The law firm’s professional focus is assisting and helping people move forward after they have been seriously injured due to the fault of someone else, and many times it’s due to the negligent conduct of another. Impaired driving is an epidemic in Kern County, which sees more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers aren’t stopped in time, and instead cause major damage to innocent lives. So, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnered with the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of this issue, and help put an end to DUI driving locally.

The Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in Bakersfield — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — has become the largest fundraising runs locally, and one of the largest such MADD events in the country. The event brings together more than 1,000 people each year including surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, our local media, and other community leaders and members. They come together to say, “Enough is enough,” and, “No more victims.”

All funds raised from this event stay in Kern County to raise awareness of the DUI problem locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. This year’s event will be held Sept. 29, at Park at River Walk.

Victims and community members share how much they appreciate the work of MADD Kern County and the work of volunteers like those at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. As an example, take the family of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015. The law firm represented the family in the wrongful death case and connected the family with MADD Kern County. This connection allowed the family to form a network with others who experienced similar circumstances, was assisted through the foreign court process, and gave the family an opportunity to heal and give back. The family donated $2,500 to MADD Kern County in 2017, and the law firm matched that donation.

“When we became victims of a DUI crime, MADD Kern County became our advocate and worked hard to make sure we had a voice, and treated our family with compassion,” said Denise Natividad, mother of Leslie Balderrama. “We’re able to give back now and help another local family who unfortunately will have to deal with the aftermath of the actions of a drunk or drugged driver.”

 

OSCARS OF BAKERSFIELD

Dubbed the “Oscars of Bakersfield,” the 2018 Beautiful Bakersfield Awards highlighted over 120 nominees in 15 categories, making this year the largest nominee class for the event.

In the end, the winner of the “Corporation of the Year” category was Jim Burke Ford Lincoln. According the chamber, “this automotive company launched the Ford Dimension and Dream Builders programs as a way to provide service and leadership opportunities for local youth. It also selects a company charity that its employees volunteer to support throughout the year.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles was has been nominated once before. In 2016, the law firm was nominated in the “Renovation/Tenant Improvement” category for its work in helping revitalize downtown Bakersfield with a six-month, seven-figure renovation of an old 30,000 square-foot building.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles ‘gives big’ to local nonprofits in Kern County’s giving event

May 30, 2018 | 9:49 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles ‘gives big’ to local nonprofits in Kern County’s giving event

Editor’s Note: As May 2018 comes to a close, we take a look back at Give Big Kern, our community’s day of giving that took place on May 1. Chain | Cohn | Stiles was glad to play a role in fundraising, and the law firm was able to donate to two worthy nonprofits: MADD Kern County and Bike Bakersfield. Learn more about this annual community event below. 

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It proved to be record-breaking year for Give Big Kern, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles was thrilled to play a part in the annual community giving event.

As May comes to an end, Give Big Kern officials released results for Give Big Kern 2018 and the total raised in the crowd-funding campaign came to $231,000 for 119 local nonprofits. Quite a feat, considering the inaugural Give Big Kern in 2016 raised $176,000, making this year’s campaign a record.

As part of the festivities, Chain | Cohn | Stiles donated to two worthy local causes — organizations that adhere to worthwhile missions that resonate with the law firm, and ultimately aim to make our community a safer place. For media coverage on donations, scroll to the bottom of this post.

  • The law firm donated $2,000 for Bike Bakersfield’s Project Light up the Night program, which gives out free safety helmets and bike lights in areas of Bakersfield where they are needed the most. The donation was presented to Bike Bakersfield Executive Director Jack Becker before the group’s “Bike Month Kickoff Lunch Ride.” Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with Bike Bakersfield in the Project Light up the Night safety program for the past several years, and you can read more about it here.
  • And Chain | Cohn | Stiles donated $10,000 to MADD Kern County to help raise awareness of the DUI problem locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. The donation was presented to MADD Kern County’s Victim Services Specialist Carla Pearson. The law firm is a longtime partner of MADD Kern County, and you can read more about the partnership here.

At the end of Give Big Kern, MADD Kern County raised the fourth most in all of Kern County, while Bike Bakersfield ranked No. 15. The day-long event, organized by the Kern Community Foundation, consisted of the “ringing in” of the day with Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh at the Liberty Bell downtown, a proclamation by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, and celebrations at Rusty’s Pizza and Temblor Brewing Company.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

New CSU Bakersfield mentor program matches students with graduates, friends of university including Chain | Cohn | Stiles representatives

March 7, 2018 | 9:05 am


“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg 

The California State University, Bakersfield Alumni Association recently launched its new mentorship program, Runner Alumni Mentorship Program (RAMP), matching graduates and friends of the university with current students who are looking for educational advice, career guidance, and life lessons.

And three representatives from Chain | Cohn | Stiles are proud to be taking part in RAMP as mentors. They are:
  • Jorge Barrientos: Jorge earned his bachelor’s degree from another California State University (Chico). His wife, Carla, however, is the president of the CSUB Alumni Association. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Jorge is the director of marketing and public relations.
  • Chad Boyles: Chad earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Cal State Bakersfield, where he was also a part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the CSUB Alumni Association. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, he focused on personal injury and wrongful death cases.
  • Ray Pruitt: Ray earned his Worker’s Compensation Law Certificate from CSUB, and has taught criminal justice courses at the university. At the law firm, he assists in case development and management, and gathering vital evidence and information for personal injury cases.

According to the Alumni Association, this pilot program offers an innovative approach by providing students practical application of networking skills, as well as personal and professional growth over an extended period of time. It matches interested students with community members based upon students’ career objectives and majors, and aims to provide support and advise in areas such as networking, career planning and interview skills. RAMP is currently open to junior and senior-level students within the schools of Social Sciences & Education, and Business & Public Administration, and will run through the end of the spring semester, with a new cycle beginning in the fall. Those interested in being a part of the future RAMP classes can email alumni@csub.edu with your contact information and a note stating your interest in the program.

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life,” RAMP program organizers stated.

Click here to see a group picture of the 2018 RAMP mentors.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has partnered with local groups to make educational presentations to students, offer job shadowing and internship opportunities, and to serve as mentors. The law firm and its attorneys have also awarded student scholarships, and donated to educational and philanthropic programs that assist high-achieving and well-deserving students to pursue their dreams.

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If you or someone you know if injured in an accident, call the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

‘Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan’ aims to decrease accidents, deaths in Bakersfield

February 21, 2018 | 10:13 am


Pedestrian and bicycle accidents and fatalities have been climbing year after year in Kern County, with 42 deaths reported in the county in 2017, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

In Bakersfield alone, the Bakersfield Police Department has investigated 49 fatal and injury collisions involving pedestrians during the past three years, and saw an astonishing 21 pedestrian deaths and three bicycle accident fatalities in 2017, according to the City of Bakersfield.

The fact of the matter is that one pedestrian or bicycle accident is one too many, and likely preventable. For this reason, the Bakersfield-based accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is glad to see the City of Bakersfield’s recent announcement that it is moving forward in developing a plan that aims to reduce injuries and fatalities of bicyclists and pedestrians.

The “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan” — a partnership with California Department of Transportation — will examine the city’s roadways to determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians and recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advocated and fought to raise awareness of bicycle, pedestrian and driver safety throughout the streets Bakersfield and Kern County. For example, each fall, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County.

A national study revealed that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently and many of them often use cell phones, text or listen to music while walking or driving. In fact, only 60 percent of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way.

In Bakersfield, law enforcement officials have increased pedestrian safety enforcement operations, patrolling in “trouble spots,” cracking down on drivers and pedestrians who violate traffic laws meant to protect all roadway users. Special attention has been directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in cross walks or any other dangerous violation. Additionally, officers are also targeting pedestrians who cross the street illegally or fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way.

Here are some safety tips that pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers can use to decrease accidents, and potentially save lives:

Drivers

  • Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
  • Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
  • Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.

Pedestrians

  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
  • Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
  • Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
  • Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.

Bicyclists

  • Know the rules of the road. Bicycles and motorcycles are considered vehicles on the road with all the rights and responsibilities of automobiles.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line, use signal turns, and signal lane changes.
  • Dress “bright and tight,” which means being seen, and not getting tangled up in your bike.
  • Anticipate what other motorists will do next, whether it’s turning, braking or accelerating.
  • Ride ready. Make sure everything on your bicycle is in working condition.
  • Never ride or drive distracted.
  • Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle or motorcycle, and a seat belt when in a vehicle. A U.S. Department of Transportation certified helmet is recommended for riders. Cyclists should consider a horn or bell to get others’ attention, as well as reflectors. Motorcyclists should make sure headlights and taillights are in working order, too.
  • Never get behind the wheel (or wheels) under the influence of any substance.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.