Season of Giving: Community comes together to renovate library at Boys & Girls Club of Kern County

November 22, 2017 | 7:03 am


It’s the season of giving — giving to the less fortunate, giving to our Kern County community, and giving thanks.

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, philanthropy and giving back is a year-round mission, whether it’s giving out free safety helmets and bicycle lights to bicyclist throughout Kern County, supporting MADD Kern County who assists innocent victims of DUI crashes and fights against DUI crimes, or taking disadvantaged youth back-to-school shopping.

This Thanksgiving season, Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to highlight a special project at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County administered by Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Bakersfield, a professional development program that enhances leadership skills and introduces participants to diverse sector of Kern County. The law firm’s own marketing director Jorge Barrientos was a part of this project, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles served as a sponsor.

Learn more about the amazing community project below:

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Leadership Bakersfield Team 1 has unveiled a renovated, revitalized and updated library at the east Bakersfield branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County that will provide a safe learning environment for years to come.

The room is used by students to study, read, finish homework, and receive tutoring assistance. It is also used to provide English as a Second Language services for children and adults alike.

The room had not been updated in more than 15 years due to lack of funding from grants and donations to renovate the room. Chairs and desks were run down, the floor was badly stained, book shelves were missing, and cabinets were deteriorating. Valuable counter space was limited, and ceiling tiles were water stained and breaking apart. Windows were covered by student art to prevent pedestrians from looking in and disrupting activities.

Among the renovations and conversion from a library into a multi-purpose room, Leadership Bakersfield Team 1 painted the room, brought in 30 new chairs along with a moving cart and foldable classroom tables for student workspaces, polished and revitalized flooring, installed new ceiling tiles, installed decals on the windows and walls, organized materials, and installed a mural.

“The project will undoubtedly benefit children and adults from Bakersfield needing a safe place to learn,” Leadership Bakersfield Team 1 said in a statement. “We believe the renovations made to this room will help provide a world-class experience, and adhere to the mission and vision of the Boys & Girls Club.”

The local chapter of Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County is the largest in the nation, serving 7,200 kids each day, with its main operating site in Kern County being on Niles Street. The clubs serve children from all walks of life, with most children coming from families of low socioeconomic backgrounds. The club also has a special outreach program for children residing in homeless shelters and foster care. The club’s vision is to provide a world-class club experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who walks through their doors. The club does this by offering support, programs and a safe and healthy environment to prosper and thrive.

The project was made possible through donations and support from Kern Federal Credit Union, Bakersfield Association of Realtors, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Gary & Tanya Carruesco Realtors, Wells Acoustics, HealthSouth, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Trans-West Security, and Stinson’s, who provided and donated all of the furniture for the room.

Leadership Bakersfield Team 1 participants include Rebecca Aceves, Tamara Baker, Jorge Barrientos, Lori Brackett, Gary Carruesco, Aaron Flores, Kristen Hartsell, Miranda Whitworth, and advisor Patricia Marquez.

The group unveiled the room during an open-house ceremony attended by Leadership Bakersfield group members, Boys & Girls Club representatives, supporters, and local dignitaries.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of bicycle lights, safety helmets this fall

October 18, 2017 | 9:26 am


At least 30 pedestrians and bicyclists in Kern County have lost their lives in roadway accidents in 2017. Many of them were not properly illuminated during night hours.

As part of its mission to reduce the number of accidents in our community, Bike Bakersfield – in partnership with Chain | Cohn | Stiles and Kern Family Health Care – will be giving away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County over several weeks starting this Thursday, Oct. 19.

“Project Light Up The Night” is Bike Bakersfield’s annual program that delivers sets of free bicycle lights in parts of our community where bicycles are used the most – Oildale, Arvin, east Bakersfield, and southeast Bakersfield. This year, free safety helmets of all sizes will also be provided thanks to support from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Bike Bakersfield staff and volunteers will install lights for immediate use, and educate bicyclists on how to properly fit and adjust helmets. One set of lights and one helmet will be given per person with his or her bicycle present.

“Many cyclists still ride at night without lights, a practice that is illegal and life-threatening. And with the sun setting early this time of year, it is important that bicyclists be visible on the roadway,” said Jack Becker, Bike Bakersfield program manager. “Being visible to motorists is a key part of staying safe while riding a bicycle on the road, and these bright LED lights will let drivers know you’re there.”

For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which often sees victims of vehicle versus bicycle accidents, providing safety equipment to children and adult bike riders who otherwise cannot afford one is just one key step toward improving safety on our roadways. The law firm for several years now has partnered with Bike Bakersfield in its “Kidical Mass” bike repair, safety demonstration, a group bike ride program, as well as the safety light and helmet giveaway.

“We hope these programs led by Bike Bakersfield not only helps raise awareness of the importance of bicycle safety and sharing the road with all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, but also will help decrease the number of injuries caused by crashes here in Kern County,” said David Cohn, managing partner and veteran personal injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

If you are a bicycle rider in need of a bicycle light or safety helmet, please take note of the following details to collect yours:

  • WHAT: Bike Bakersfield’s “Project Light Up The Night”
  • WHO: All residents who arrive with a bicycle are eligible for free lights and a helmet
  • WHEN: From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays (Oct. 19, Oct. 26, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9)
  • WHERE: Four locations: Corner of Roberts Lane and N. Chester Avenue in Oildale; Niles Street and Mount Vernon Avenue in east Bakersfield; Planz Park in south Bakersfield; and Bike Arvin in Arvin. Click here to view a map for locations.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Fourth annual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, brings out 1,000, raises over $80,000 for MADD Kern County

September 27, 2017 | 9:18 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $80,000 for MADD Kern County in the process.

The fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in 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. Bringing out around 1,000 people registered for a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K, the event has become one of the largest fundraising running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh and Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

Besides serving as a presenting sponsor, Chain | Cohn | Stiles plays a role in organizing the event. Marketing Director Jorge Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman, attorney Matt Clark leads the sponsorship committee, and attorney Neil Gehlawat serves as a member of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“This event keeps growing each year, which shows that Kern County has had enough. Our local residents want safer streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and ultimately end drunk and drugged driving.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Wells Fargo, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., FedEx, Johnson Attorneys Group, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Ira and Carole Cohen of UBS Financial Services, and Davita.

Media sponsors included KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO-23 ABC, Eyewitness News KBAK-KBFX, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and KUZZ. “Friends of MADD” sponsors included Action Sports, Bakersfield Track Club, Challenge the Bear, Coud Nine Coffee Co. Costco, Hire A Hero So-Cal, Kern High School District, Martin’s Meats, Wood & Randall, and Sully’s.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. You can view the complete results here.

Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Prayers for Jourdan
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Todd Farnsworth
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

As of September 2017, 17 people in Kern County had died this year from crashes caused by people who chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Hundreds more have been injured with thousands of friends and families affected. Kern County is averaging 11 DUI arrests per day.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised nearly $250,000, including this year. It’s not too late to join and donate – donations are accepted until Nov. 22 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

New personal injury attorney joins Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 20, 2017 | 9:32 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm, has welcomed a new lawyer to its team.

Tanya D. Alsheikh has joined the personal injury department as an associate attorney, where she is focusing on car accident, wrongful death, elder abuse and neglect, and other injury and accident cases. She joins an experienced personal injury department that includes partners David CohnMatt Clark and Neil Gehlawat, and associate attorneys Chad Boyles and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller. Other attorneys on the law firm’s team are partner James Yoro and associate attorney Beatriz Trejo in the workers’ compensation department.

“I’m excited to join a firm that holds people accountable and provides a voice for people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to defend themselves,” Tanya said. “Being a lawyer is fulfilling in and of itself, but being able to help people who genuinely need it gives a whole other meaning to the profession.”

Tanya added: “While working here, I find that the firm’s motto ‘Standing for Justice’ really rings true.”

Tanya was raised in Bakersfield, attending Stockdale Christian School and Bakersfield Christian High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount, and her Juris Doctorate from University of San Diego School of Law. During her time at University of San Diego School of Law, Tanya was honored as an associate board member of the school’s competitive moot court team.

Tanya says she has long dreamt of becoming an attorney and spent most of her adult life working towards that goal. clerk. Before joining the firm, she served as a legal assistant, legal intern and law clerk for firms in Los Angeles, San Diego and Bakersfield. She worked as a student attorney at the University of San Diego Education and Disability Clinic where she was responsible for meeting clients who could not afford legal counsel. Her responsibilities also included counseling clients, representing them and their interests during meetings, and if necessary, filing a complaint and preparing for formal mediation and hearings.

She was sworn-in to practice law in California in June by Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe, and took the oath to support the U.S. Constitution, perform her duties of an attorney to the best of her knowledge and ability, and conduct herself in her profession “at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity.” You can see photos and watch a video of the swearing-in here.

Outside of the office, Tanya is involved in activities at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, enjoys traveling, cooking and cheering for the Los Angeles Lakers. She is also fluent in Arabic.

You can find Tanya involved in various other community service activities. She recently helped local disadvantaged youth go back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s — you can see a picture of her with her students here.

“I want to personally be involved in making Bakersfield a better place, whether that is through giving a voice to members of our community or attending and participating in community outreach,” said Tanya. “Kern County can only be as good as we work to make it. I am eager for the opportunity to be an active part of Bakersfield’s future.”

Tanya was recently featured in the “People in Business” section of The Bakersfield Californian. See it here.

Stay tuned to bloggingforjustice.com and Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ various social media profiles to keep an eye on Tanya’s work.

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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.

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Stay up to date on news from Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Follow the law firm on social media including on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps kick off Hispanic Heritage Month with celebration, scholarships

September 13, 2017 | 9:40 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles is helping kick off Hispanic Heritage Month this year by celebrating with the local community and awarding scholarships to students in need.

The law firm is hosting a mixer together with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Metro Galleries in downtown Bakersfield. And on Friday, Sept. 15, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will be awarding scholarships to local deserving students during a celebration of Mexico’s Independence called “El Grito de Dolores,” in downtown Bakersfield.

Both events are open to the public. To learn more about these events, and how you can be a part, please read the sections below.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has made available a Spanish language website and reached out in different platforms in order to better serve the local Latino and Hispanic population, which you can view by clicking here. The law firm has also partnered with La Caliente 96.9 to assist Spanish radio station listeners who need help with their potential accident, injury or workers’ compensation* cases. In fact, workers’ compensation associate attorney Beatriz Trejo, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, has become a regular on El Show De Cascabel, a Spanish language show, a widely popular Kern County show that airs on FM station 96.9 from 2 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The law firm and its employees are also deeply involved in community efforts that serve the local Hispanic population, including Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Latina Leaders of Kern County, among others. The motto for Chain | Cohn | Stiles is “Standing for Justice” for all residents of Kern County — or, in Spanish, “Luchando por Justicia.”

 

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH KICK-OFF 

National Hispanic Heritage Month in United States will begin on Sept. 1 this year and ends on Oct. 15. And since 1968, the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16 has been proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week. The month-long celebration honors the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

To commemorate the occasion, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is sponsoring the monthly business networking mixer by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Metro Galleries. The event will feature appetizers, music, raffles and art from the annual Latination Art Exhibit.

To learn more about the event, please see the flier here.

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2016, was 57.5 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted about 18 percent percent of the nation’s total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Hispanic population is projected to reach 119 million by 2060, and will constitute nearly 30 percent of the nation’s population by that date.

Californian’s Hispanic population was 15.3 million in 2016, the largest Hispanic population of any state.

 

El GRITO DE DOLORES

Each year, thousands join together at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court in downtown Bakersfield to celebrate the annual “El Grito,” a major celebration in Mexico that marks the country’s fight for independence against Spanish rule.

The evening — taking place from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 — includes folkloric dancers, mariachi and banda music groups, and a scholarship recognition ceremony, sponsored in part by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, honoring Kern County students and scholarship recipients. See the flier for the event here.

The celebration also includes a live feed from the Mexican city of Dolores where a re-enactment of El Grito takes place. A live newscast will also be aired by Telemundo.

Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16. The Grito, which occurred in the small Mexican town of Dolores, was the rallying call made by a Roman Catholic priest in front of his church to the battle against Spain.

El Grito is organized by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, which includes board chairman and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a sponsor for student scholarships presented during El Grito celebration along local businesses Bank of the Sierra and Rabobank. The sponsors, in partnership with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, are awarding 19 scholarships to local students in pursuit of higher education, and who are giving back in various ways to our community.

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

Chain | Cohn | Stiles matches donation to MADD Kern County by mother of Tehachapi teenager who died after being struck, killed by DUI driver

August 23, 2017 | 8:44 am


The mother of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015, has donated $2,500 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, following the settlement of her wrongful death lawsuit.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the law firm that represented mother Denise Natividad, matched the donation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

“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.”

Added Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for the Natividad family:

“The crash that claimed the life of Leslie Baldarrama was incredibly tragic and 100 percent avoidable like all DUI crashes. Our law firm is honored to continue to help MADD Kern County, and it’s touching to know that Leslie’s family feels the same way.”

The $5,000 will go toward the fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County’s annual event that raises funds to help innocent victims of local DUI crashes, raises awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund MADD Kern County programs, including the court advocate program that helped the Natividad family through the criminal trial. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a presenting sponsor for the event.

“Our wish is to get to a point where MADD Kern County’s services aren’t needed,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist with MADD Kern County. “Until then, we’re grateful for the support from Denise Natividad, which helps us continue to advocate for victims, and fight to end drunk and drugged driving in Kern County forever.”

The 2017 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash will be held the morning of Sept. 23 at Park at River Walk. You can help by signing up to walk, run (free kid’s fun run, 5K or 10K), joining as a team captain, donating or volunteering. The family of Leslie Balderrama has formed a team, and will be in attendance. For more information, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

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

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Back-to-school tips: For students and parents, getting to and from campus safely should be top priority

August 9, 2017 | 9:24 am


With the close of each summer comes the return of school, including back-to-school shopping, hectic schedules, sports, and seemingly never-ending homework.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently helped our local students get in the school spirit as a sponsor of Childspree, which takes hundreds of underprivileged children back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s. The annual program organized by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club provides students with a backpack full of school supplies and $125 for clothes. Volunteers, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and staff, helped the students pick out new digs.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes this time of the year to remind parents and students to keep safety at the top of mind.

“Whether its students who are walking, cycling or taking the bus to school, parents dropping off their children, or other pedestrians and drivers around school campuses, safety should always be the top priority,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We want everyone to arrive to class, and back home, safely.”

Here are a few helpful safety tips for parents and students alike:

 

STROLL TO SCHOOL

  • Map a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Always use sidewalks or walking paths.
  • Check for moving cars at driveways and intersections.
  • Obey all traffic signs and crossing guards.
  • Cross streets safely. Stop at the curb or edge of the street; look left, right, left and behind you for traffic; wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing; keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing; walk and don’t run across the street; and don’t use your phone when crossing the street.
  • Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school. Also, identify “safe houses,” homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
  • Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
  • Teach children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied.
  • Parents should also make sure the child knows his or her phone number, address, how to get in touch with a parent at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1.

 

CYCLING TO CLASS

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Ride in the direction of traffic.
  • Watch for opening car doors.
  • Wear bright clothing to help drivers see you.
  • Install reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.
  • Install lights on the front and back of your bike.

 

WHEELS ON THE BUS

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety tips include:

  • Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
  • Tell children they should only board their bus, and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

For more school bus safety information, check out this previous Blogging for Justice blog post on the subject.

 

DRIVING

If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

As for parents and other drivers, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Obey the traffic laws.
  • Follow the ingress and egress patterns at your school.
  • If you want to avoid an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement, leave early, follow the rules of the road and be courteous.
  • If you want to walk your child to his or her classroom, park off-site so you are not creating a traffic jam.
  • Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
  • Pull into a passenger loading zone for drop-off. If there is no passenger loading zone or any space available, park in a legal parking space farther away.
  • Drop your child off at the curb on the school side of the street rather than crossing into incoming traffic or having your child run across the street.
  • Don’t park in the loading zone or in a school bus zone. Also, never double park; this creates an unsafe situation for children who are often difficult to see between cars.

For more school-related safety tips — including at school safety and bullying prevention advice — visit a previous Chain | Cohn | Stiles blog post here.

— Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this article

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If you or someone you know is injured to and from school at the fault of someone else, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles celebrates 43rd Philippine Weekend in Delano

July 26, 2017 | 9:30 am


For 42 years, thousands of people from all around Kern County and the world have come together in the northern Kern County city of Delano to celebrate the vibrant Filipino history and culture during Philippine Weekend. And the 43rd year looks to continue to add to the rich memories and traditions that come with the annual event.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be a sponsor of the Philippine Weekend once again this year, and are looking forward to celebrate the various contests, fiestas and tournaments that are in store. Here are a few details for just a few of the festivities you can join:

Activities for the Whole Family  

  • Adobo Cook-Off: A competition highlighting the powerful flavors of the very popular Filipino dish will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 28, at Cecil Avenue Park. Workers’ compensation* lawyer James Yoro will be a judge once again this year. Yoro, who has been a lawyer with Chain | Cohn | Stiles for 35 years, this year became the first president of Filipino descent of the Kern County Bar Association.
  • Grand Parade: A parade full of floats, bands, marching groups, and car and bike clubs will celebrate the rich Filipino history throughout downtown Delano at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 29.
  • Barrio Fiesta: The Barrio Fiesta brings together some of the values that Filipino people hold dear: pageantry, laughter, relationships and drama. It will feature food vendors and entertainment from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30, at Cecil Avenue Park.
  • Basketball Tournament: This is the event that started the Philippine Weekend celebration in 1974. The tournament will not only feature teams from around the city and Central Valley, but also teams from around California. The tournament will run from July 29 through July 31 at Delano and Cesar Chavez High School.
  • More Activities: For a full schedule, click here or go to philippineweekend.org.

The Man Behind the Weekend

Many, if not all, of the events that take place during the Philippine Weekend carry the spirit and character of Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal is the Filipino national hero, who had dreams and beliefs so strong that he was able to bring forth the dreams and beliefs of Filipinos around the nation. When he died, his drive and determination became infectious to all the Filipino people.

This weekend blends the elder traditions that were born in the Philippines with the traditions that are being created in America.

The different contests that have come about during these weekends provide respect, sportsmanship, and growth throughout the Filipino community. The realization of the different contests and celebrations would not be possible if it wasn’t for the hardworking people whose dreams and beliefs were as strong as Dr. Jose Rizal.

A Cause for Good 

Philippine Weekend started in 1974 as a humble basketball tournament designed to pass on the rich traditions of Filipino culture. Fast forward to today, and Philippine Weekenden compasses a dozen events that span over the course of three days and draws massive crowds.

Community volunteering and local business sponsorships like the ones from Chain | Cohn | Stiles are the backbone for the Philippine Weekend, itself a nonprofit organization. These sponsorships allow the different events from the weekend to expand and improve with each year. They also provide graduating high school students with scholarships towards their college education.

Make sure to look for Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Philippine Weekend program books, website, souvenir book, and media coverage throughout the week.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know if hurt in an accident or injured at work, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, or visit the website 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.

Speak up for those who can’t during Elder Abuse Awareness Month

June 21, 2017 | 9:07 am


More than 500,000 incidents of elder abuse are reported to authorities each year in the United States. Additionally, an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are abused or neglected each year, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging.

Sadly, many cases go unreported.

During June’s Elder Abuse Awareness Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to remind everyone of the importance of speaking up for those who can’t — our oldest, frailest and most vulnerable citizens. For decades, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been at the forefront in fighting for victims of elder abuse in Bakersfield, Kern County and beyond. For example:

Joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles in honoring the awareness month locally, the Kern County Board of Supervisors recently proclaimed June as Elder Abuse Awareness month as well.

In all, Elder Abuse Awareness Month aims to focus attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders. It also seeks to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population, and brings together senior citizens, and their caregivers, national and local government, academics, and the private sector to exchange ideas about how best to reduce incidents of violence towards elders, increase reporting of such abuse, and to develop elder friendly policies.

A challenge, however, lies in the reporting of elder abuse and neglect. For every case known to programs and agencies, 24 are unknown; for financial abuse, only one in 44 cases is known, according to the National Center of Elder Abuse.

So 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.

Another issue lies is recognizing elder abuse and neglect. In fact, elder abuse can take many forms including:

  • Physical abuse: Inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior (slapping, bruising or restraining by physical or chemical means).
  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect: The failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation: The illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse: Inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts (humiliating, intimidating, or threatening).
  • Abandonment: Desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect: Characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

Lastly, how do you recognize elder abuse and neglect, and what are the warning signs. Here are a few of them:

  • Bruises, broken bones, abrasions and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene and unusual weight loss.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person.
  • If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

It’s important to alert others if you have suspicions, and to retain an attorney. In an emergency, call 9-1-1. To report cases of elder abuse, whether it is on your own behalf or that of someone you know, please call Adult Protective Services as part of the Kern County Aging & Adult Services, or contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman.

  • Adult Protective Services (APS) 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. Reach the 24-hour hotline at 800-277-7866 or 661-868-1006.
  • The 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. You can reach them at 661-323-7884.

— By Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If someone you know is the victim of elder abuse or neglect, it’s important to retain an elder abuse lawyer right away. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been representing victims of elder abuse and neglect for decades. Reach the elder abuse law firm at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website bakersfieldelderabuse.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins MADD to honor local officers, prosecutors fighting to end DUI crimes

June 15, 2017 | 8:27 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored local law enforcement officers and prosecutors on Wednesday, June 14, for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes.

Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles was proud to be a sponsor, supporter and organizer of the event.

In all, more than 70 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded at the 2017 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition ceremony, held at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield. Prosecutors from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office were also honored, with the highest awards going to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer.

“These local heroes are potentially helping save lives by removing DUI offenders from our streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “They deserve recognition for making our communities throughout Kern County safer.”

To view the names of all of the officers awarded, click here. Among the top award winners were:

  • Probation Department Award, Deputy Luis Gomez: While Deputy Probation Officer Luis Gomez does not conduct traffic stops to arrest DUI offenders, he does work hard at keeping the community safe by supervising felony probationers to ensure they are not consuming alcohol. He also works tirelessly to ensure these offenders remain in compliance with the orders of the court. Through funding provided by the Office of Transportation and Safety, Officer Gomez supervises 75 high-risk, felony and repeat DUI offenders. In 2016 alone, Officer Gomez conducted 947 home calls and 855 office conferences with these dangerous offenders. In 2016, he conducted 522 urinalysis tests by ETG device and 1,125 Breathalyzer tests. Officer Gomez has been swift in his responses to those who violate Court orders by arresting them or placing them on monitoring programs in an effort to reduce their alcohol consumption. Officer Gomez’ diligence in supervising these high-risk worst of the worst DUI offenders is commendable and has gone a long way to help keep our streets safer for the citizens of Kern County.
  • Top Prosecutor 187 Award, Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn: Michael Yraceburn prosecuted the nation’s first successful murder conviction for driving while impaired by marijuana. That March 2014 crash, in which the suspect was driving close to 80 miles per hour before losing control, killed David Aggio on impact. The suspect was sentenced to 20 years to life.
  • Top Law Enforcement, Bakersfield Police Officer Louis James: Officer James was reassigned to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Traffic Section in July 2015. Since then, he has primarily worked the graveyard shift. As a result, he has been one of the most, if not the most, productive traffic officer in regards to DUI enforcement. Though he was assigned to the traffic section for only a year and a half, he maintained his aggressive DUI enforcement to make the citizens of Bakersfield safer. In 2015, He received an award from MADD California for his efforts, and in 2016 he arrested 247 DUI drivers. This was the most of all traffic units within the department and one of the highest in California.

Prosecutor’s Awards were also handed out by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and were awarded to Kim Richardson, Garrett Rice and Brad Taconi.

The awards ceremony returned to Bakersfield for 2017 after the loss of federal grant funding and budget cuts prevented the 2016 awards luncheon from being hosted in Kern County. This year, several community sponsors, working with MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board, stepped up to make sure officers from all Kern County agencies were being honored for their work in fighting against DUI crimes.

The MADD Kern County Advisory Board includes Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat and marketing director Jorge Barrientos.

Sponsors for the awards luncheon included anonymous donors, Chevron, Kern Federal Credit Union, Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Greenlawn Mortuary, Raymond’s Trophy, Clifford & Bradford Insurance Agency, Sally Herald CPA, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

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. Bakersfield’s 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Park at River Walk.

You, too, can be involved in the fight to end drunk and drugged driving locally. You can help by signing up as a walker, runner (5K or 10K), team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a kid’s “fun run,” where each child of walk and race participants gets a free superhero cape. 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 more information on that event, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

— Alyssa Wood of Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this report. 

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MEDIA COVERAGE