Bar Soap – October 2014


My, my, had I known I could get responses by giving a grammar lesson, I would have done it years ago. Thanks to all for your input. I received comments on Super Lawyers, verdicts, settlements, lawyers on Courtcall and lawyers on the move.

Speaking of lawyers on the move, I see that Peter Langley has opened a new office in Walnut Creek. For many years, Peter was right around the corner from the courthouse in Martinez at Gordon, Watrous, Ryan, Langley, Bruno and Paltenghi. I understand the old firm has dissolved and the members have spread out all over the county (or retired).

Chastity A. Schults, formerly of Youngman & Ericsson, has announced the formation of her new firm, in the Walnut Creek or Lafayette area.

Ross Pytlik is now Of Counsel at Louie & Jimenez, LLP.

I saw Jim Hazard in the building the other day. He announced to me that he was no longer practicing law. Sorry to hear that, as he is a very fine lawyer and mediator. I heard from another source that his firm is moving back to Walnut Creek. No idea if there is a connection.

Diddo Clark has announced she is now an Attorney at Law, Office of Diddo Clark.

One of my partners at Ropers Majeski, Allen Anderson, has left that firm, and is now a partner at Arent Fox, LLP. His dad, Don Anderson, is a long time Contra Costa lawyer.

Congratulations to all, and best of luck in your new adventures!

Speaking of congratulations and a very fond farewell, Lisa Reep has retired as Executive Director of the Contra Costa County Bar Association. Hard to believe it has been 20 years since she came on board. She will be missed.

Speaking of executive directors of the Bar Association, I have been in contact with our former Executive Director Susan McKean. She spent 10 years at the helm, then moved home to the Midwest. So between the two of them, that is 30 years as the executive director of a local bar association. I bet there are not many bar associations in the state who can claim that. We must be doing something right.

The 2014 Super Lawyers list is out. Many of our Contra Costa attorneys are listed. Congratulations to all who made it this year, both first timers and repeats. As in the past, if you report it to me, I will list your name in the next column. Get that? Nobody reported to me yet, except for me. I did see my name again.

Our local bench has been a bit like the Giants and the A’s; not at full strength because team members on the DL. I’m happy to see our Presiding Judge Barry Goode back on the streets of Martinez. Walking is good for the body and spirit, particularly if one has had a run-in with a horse. Judge Craddick is also back in her usual place in the courthouse managing our complex cases and the ex parte calendar; a thankless task in my view.

Speaking of sad and thankless tasks, I all too often lately must mention the passing of one or more members of the Bar Association. A longtime member of the CCCBA, Lawrence Kaplan, died on August 23, 2014, after a brief illness. A University of Chicago undergrad and a UC Hastings law school grad, Larry was a wonderful man and a very fine criminal defense lawyer. He was admitted to practice in California in 1969.

Lloyd W. McCormick was another of the “tall trees” in the practice of law. He was a UC Berkeley and Boalt School of Law graduate. He practiced at the same firm for his entire legal career: McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen (Now Bingham McCutchen). Lloyd passed away on August 28, 2014. You might recognize the last name, as Lloyd’s son, Ken McCormick, is a longtime Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney, and a member of the CCCBA.

I saw a recent article in the newspaper about our DA Mark Peterson. Nice article. Thinking about the DA’s office, I am often asked “What is the status of the Gressett case?” I have no firsthand knowledge, but I know it is set for trial in federal court. In looking at PACER, I saw that trial is set for May 4, 2015, in San Francisco before the Hon. Edward M. Chen.

Our own Harvey Sohnen reported a very interesting settlement his firm obtained as Plaintiff’s counsel in a class action matter. Nice of Harvey to report a case to me, as he is the one who came up with the name of my “Bar Soap” column. I don’t think he is the one who put my picture in the bath tub. I am still trying to find out who thought of that.

At any rate, Brooks, et al v. U.S. Bank, was filed in Contra Costa and removed to U.S. District Court, in the Northern District of California, Case No. c-12-4935EMC. Plaintiffs were represented by Harvey Sohnen and Patricia Kelly of Sohnen & Kelly in Orinda, along with Eve Cervantez of Altshuler Berzon of San Francisco. U.S. Bank was represented by Joan Fife of Winston & Strawn.

Named Plaintiff Brooks was a former employee of U.S. Bank at a branch located in a supermarket in Brentwood, Contra Costa County. She was required to stand at the teller counter all day while performing her duties. She brought a class action on behalf of U.S. Bank employees at California in-store locations, such as the supermarket where she worked, who were required to spend their work days standing.

She asserted that such practices violate California wage orders requiring suitable seating for employees when the nature of the work allows it, and she asserted a failure to provide rest breaks. The case settled on behalf of the class of 2,689 persons, in the gross amount of $1.9 million. It appears the case is the first case resolved for a large class on a “suitable seating” claim. Nice result, Harvey and Patricia.

Not sure anyone has noticed, but all Contra Costa deputy sheriffs are now wearing the mandatory black uniform. That means all our court bailiffs, too. Say goodbye to the old tan uniforms; it’s a good look. They changed the patrol cars to black and white, and now the uniforms.

Okay, so the next grammar lesson: “Each one of the litigants HAS appeared,” not HAVE appeared. Remember, each is singular. The verb then applies to each one, not to the litigants.

Now does everyone know the assignment? Right, report interesting settlements and trial verdicts, report if you have been named a Super Lawyer, report if you have moved or joined a new firm, then just report. Contact me by email with all your reports and rumors at


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