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Community News – August 2019

Johnson Fistel is pleased to announce that Brett M. Middleton has joined the firm in its San Diego office. “We are very fortunate that Brett accepted our offer to join the team,” said Frank J. Johnson, one of the firm’s founding partners. “He has nearly two decades of significant securities, corporate, and business litigation experience which will help us continue to provide excellent service to our clients as our firm continues to grow.”

Mr. Middleton has received multiple industry and national recognitions, including “San Diego Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyers, “Best of the Bar” by the San Diego Business Journal, and “Recommended Lawyer in M&A Related Shareholder Litigation” by Legal 500 USA Guide. Mr. Middleton was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1998 after graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1993.

To provide wider access to justice, The San Diego County Bar Foundation is now accepting applications for its annual grant program. For 40 years, the Bar Foundation has awarded grants to local organizations that promote an understanding of the legal system and support victims of poverty, abuse and discrimination. Funding is also used to support programs that educate children and adults about the legal process and individuals’ rights and responsibilities. The Bar Foundation is currently accepting applications for: General Grant Fund. Funding will go toward facilitating and expanding the availability of legal services, improving the administration of justice and the San Diego court system, and promoting public understanding of the law. Applications are due September 1, 2019. SDCBF encourages organizations and projects to apply at

San Diego litigation attorneys Suzanne Emge and Derek Emge are pleased to announce the launch of Emge Mediation. Focusing on employment law and class actions, the Emges pull from their own litigation experience over the past three decades where they are known for achieving class action settlements totaling more than $100,000,000 for employees and consumers. Emge Mediation places an emphasis on pre-mediation conferences to more adequately set the stage for mediation. Uniquely, the duo will be co-mediating all cases, a proven concept for better efficiency and results.

Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP, a leading nationwide specialty litigation law firm with offices in Orange County and San Diego, is pleased to announce the opening of its New Haven, Connecticut office. FMG’s newest office expands the firm to over 160 attorneys nationally in 18 offices in nine states. The New Haven office will be led by Fred Knopf, who brings three decades of experience trying complex financial and commercial matters across the country. Mr. Knopf serves as primary general and trial counsel for one of the nation’s premier publicly traded investment banking and asset management firms. Mr. Knopf represents a wide array of clients including retail brokerage and advisory businesses, investment banks, securities broker dealers, registered representatives, investment advisors and insurance agents. His experience includes all aspects of the securities industry including cases before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, advising clients on regulatory and compliance issues and acting as a mediator.

Kristin Rizzo, employment mediator, has joined West Coast Resolution Group’s panel of experienced neutrals. With years of experience representing both employees and companies, Kristin’s unique background informs a deep understanding of the nuances of employment disputes. “We are proud to have Kristin as part of our team,” says Steven Dinkin, President of the National Conflict Resolution Center - the parent company to West Coast Resolution Group. “She brings an expert perspective to an area of law that is becoming more complex and multifaceted.” Kristin is Past President of the San Diego County Bar Association and has received recognition in the San Diego Daily Transcript and San Diego Super Lawyers. Regarding her mediation style, Kristin says, “I believe parties deserve a mediator who is a patient, attentive listener and has a command of the details of the case, the needs of the parties, and the underlying complexity of the law involved.”

CaseyGerry partner David S. Casey Jr. has been recognized as among California’s “Top 30 Plaintiff’s Lawyers” for 2019 by The Daily Journal—California’s leading legal publication. He is the only San Diego attorney to be featured. In this annual list of the state’s top plaintiff lawyers, The Journal honors leading lawyers bringing single cases and multi-party actions—acknowledging their involvement in key cases making an important difference in California and beyond. Casey Jr., known for taking on high-profile, complex cases, was lauded by The Journal for his recent Witkin Award for Excellence in the Practice of Law, bestowed for his work related to raising awareness about football head injuries and concussion safety. These issues arose while he represented the family of deceased NFL hero Junior Seau, a case in which he achieved a confidential settlement.

Shustak Reynolds & Partners, P.C. ( announces it won a $1.8 million arbitration award on behalf of two financial advisors who were terminated from USAA Financial Advisors, Inc. in May 2017. Notably, of the $1.8 million, $700,000 was for punitive damages based on USAA’s egregious conduct and $250,000 was for attorneys’ fees. Following their termination in 2017, the advisors, both of whom hold Certified Financial Planner™ designations in addition to several FINRA securities licenses, struggled to reenter the securities industry due to the inaccurate and defamatory disclosures USAA made on their Central Registration Depository (CRD) records concerning their “alleged” financial planning practices while licensed with USAA. In addition to the $1.8 million award, the Arbitration Panel recommended full expungement and removal of those false disclosures and a change to “voluntary resignation” from “involuntary termination.” “The award represents a complete victory and total vindication for our clients,” said Toleno.

Jon H. Epsten, Esq., Susan Hawks McClintic, Esq. and the Shareholders of Epsten Grinnell & Howell, APC are pleased to announce the promotion of Dea C. Franck, Esq. to Shareholder, effective July 1, 2019. Dea joined the firm in July of 2013, and her contributions to the firm and leadership in our Indian Wells office are unprecedented. In the six years since Dea has been a part of our team, she has maintained and established numerous key relationships and clients throughout the Coachella Valley and is well-known throughout the community association industry. Dea plays an active role in producing the firm’s annual Community Association Law Resource Book, speaks at the firm’s annual Legal Symposia and has developed and taught countless educational programs for community association board members and managers. As a Shareholder, Dea will lead the firm’s Indian Wells office, with plans for continued growth in the Coachella Valley, while providing the quality legal services for which our firm is known.


Executive Publisher, Attorney Journal      President, Sticky Media, LLC

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About the Author: Executive Publisher, Attorney Journal      President, Sticky Media, LLC

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