Marilyn Wass, CP, CAS, is the firm’s senior and most veteran paralegal. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1976 and a Paralegal Certificate, with honors, from UCLA’s Paralegal Training Program in 1978. Marilyn earned the Certified Paralegal (CP) designation in 1999 and the California Advanced Specialist (CAS) designation in civil litigation in 2000. She was the recipient of the Los Angeles Paralegal Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and co-recipient of the 2000 Five Star Paralegal of the Year Award.
Marilyn has dedicated her career to working in the field of plaintiff’s personal injury litigation, specializing in the areas of medical malpractice, product liability, and pharmaceutical and medical device mass torts. She has been with Lopez McHugh since its inception in 2007, coming over with Ramon Lopez from his predecessor firm of Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos, which she had joined in 2000. Previously, Marilyn worked for nearly 20 years with the late George E. Moore, one of the most preeminent plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorneys in Los Angeles until his death in 2000.
In addition to working on several of the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical device mass tort litigations as the supervising senior paralegal, Ms. Wass is also primarily responsible for the probate and estate work in connection with the firm’s wrongful death cases. Her skill set and experience have also turned Ms. Wass into a critical component of the firm’s settlement administration programs, including lien resolution, for which she virtually oversees all of the firm’s operations.
Marilyn has held numerous committee, board, and executive board positions over the last 25 years with the Los Angeles Paralegal Association, Orange County Paralegal Association, California Alliance of Paralegal Associations, and the Commission for Advanced California Paralegal Specialization (CACPS). She has appeared on Legal Talk Network as an authority in her profession and is a past Ethics Chair for the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). Marilyn currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the magazine, Paralegal Today.
Samuel Cohen was born and raised in Berkeley, California. He holds a BA in Political Science from University California, Davis. Sam has provided litigation support at firms specializing in personal injury, landlord/tenant litigation, and employment law. He works at our New Jersey office as a legal assistant and currently supports attorneys and staff with testosterone therapy product litigation.
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: : My colleagues’ passion for the job. Right after college I took my first position at a law firm where I worked with attorneys who were incredibly fierce advocates for their clients and it was a life changing experience for me. From day one at Lopez McHugh I recognized that every member of the team here shares that same dedication to the pursuit of justice which I saw on my first assignment and it makes me proud to be part of an organization where advancing the clients’ interests is the top priority.
Favorite Hobby: I’m a bit of a nerd. I spend a lot of time in bookstores looking for a good science fiction novel. If I’m not doing that it’s likely that I am reading up on the local politics in my native San Francisco Bay Area or my adoptive Philadelphia.
Ralph Espitia has been a devoted member of Lopez McHugh LLP since its launch in 2007. Initially brought on by Ramon Lopez as an Investigator for his predecessor firm, Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos, in 1999, Ralph is now Chief Investigator for Lopez McHugh. Mr. Espitia is highly-skilled and experienced in all aspects of both civil and criminal investigatory work. Finding employees with the level of loyalty that Mr. Espitia consistently displays can be taken for granted, which is why longtime friend Ramon Lopez recruited Ralph to join him with his new law firm, Lopez McHugh. Mr. Espitia remains committed to Ramon, as well as firm partner, Jim McHugh, and the entire Lopez McHugh team. His investigative services are utilized on virtually a daily basis by the attorneys at Lopez McHugh. Mr. Espitia also lends support on the firm’s various pharmaceutical and medical device mass tort litigations. Mr. Espitia is fluent in Spanish, as well, which aids the firm in representing individuals who speak Spanish as their first language.
When not at work or trying to locate someone or something for the firm, Ralph enjoys coaching his son’s baseball teams, as well as watching all types of sports, including baseball, soccer, hockey, and NASCAR. Ralph is a 49ers fan and an Angels fan.
Favorite Hobby: I have several, which include watching and playing sports, watching the television show, The Walking Dead, spending time with my family and friends, and, finally, I really love to eat.
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: I enjoy working here because I firmly believe it allows me to play a role in helping consumers who are injured and, without us, cannot take on the giant corporations who place defective products on the market. I appreciate working for Ramon, Jim, and the rest of our staff.
Wendy Espitia began working as a paralegal at Lopez McHugh LLP at its inception in 2007, coming over with Ramon Lopez from his predecessor firm of Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos, which she had joined in 1998. Wendy earned her Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies from Fullerton College in 1995.
Wendy provides essential litigation support for the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical device mass tort practice. She has experience in all law and motion practice, and appellate matters in both state and federal courts, as well as case management. Over the years, she has also developed critical skills in trial preparation with the attorneys of Lopez McHugh.
Wendy was the principal senior litigation paralegal in a coordinated federal case involving over 20 plaintiffs and multiple defendants, pending in the Southern District of Texas, which led to the setting of legal precedent regarding the Government Contractor Defense, Political Question Doctrine, Federal Tort Claims Act, the Defense Base Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Acts, and Choice of Law issues. Currently, she oversees the firm’s paralegal work involving local counsel cases in California, and is also directly involved in the firm’s IVC Filters, GrauFlo Recall, and Byetta/Januvia litigations.
When she is not working, Wendy is on the baseball field with her son and actively involved with her daughter’s tennis, piano, and Girl Scouts interests. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends.
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: After 15 years of working with Ramon Lopez and the rest of the Lopez McHugh team, I have gained invaluable knowledge and experience, and continue to do so with every new litigation and case. I have had the honor of helping many wonderful families and am fortunate to have been involved with the handling of their cases. Through the years, Lopez McHugh has become much more than just a place of work; it is an extended family and that is very special to me.
Melissa Jones graduated with honors from California Polytechnic University Pomona with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. She has a background in retail management and has recently transitioned into the legal environment. Melissa earned her Paralegal Certificate in September 2013 from the University of California, Irvine. Ms. Jones is presently assisting with the firm’s GranuFlo Recall litigation, and working on other personal injury/medical malpractice cases, as well.
In her spare time, Melissa enjoys traveling, going to see Broadway musicals, and watching movies. She also enjoys spending time with her family and dog, Evie.
Favorite Band: My favorite band of all time is the Goo Goo Dolls and I absolutely love seeing them in concert. Let’s see… I think I have seen them seven times now!
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: I consider myself fortunate to be a part of the Lopez McHugh team. The people that I work with are passionate about the law and helping others. I also enjoy interacting with clients and helping them seek justice.
Brandi Lopez started her career in the legal profession as a file clerk for Lopez & Hodes in 1996. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University New Orleans in 2002, Ms. Lopez returned to the expanded firm of Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos as a member of the accounting department. When Lopez McHugh was established in 2007, Ms. Lopez joined the firm as the Office Manager. She is responsible for the firm’s administrative, HR, and accounting duties.
When not working, Brandi enjoys spending time with her husband, Jim, their three beautiful children, and their very handsome bulldog.
Favorite Hobby: Room-mom, team-mom, coach, lunch duty, fundraiser, you name it! If it means I get to spend some extra time with my kids, I will be the first to volunteer.
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: I am constantly inspired by the results Lopez McHugh’s attorneys are able to achieve against such intimidating opponents. When I first interviewed with Ramon all those years ago he told me that “We are David vs. Goliath,” and the attorneys of Lopez McHugh continue to prove that with every case.
Scott Lopez graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006 with a Bachelor of Environmental Design from CU-Boulder’s esteemed School of Architecture & Planning. Throughout high school and college, Scott worked summer jobs in a law firm as a case assistant and, from those summer jobs, he gained a lot of experience in law and became enamored with the idea of helping people in the way of firms like Lopez McHugh. Mr. Lopez is a vital piece of the firm’s medical records and case review department, and provides essential support in several of the firm’s pharmaceutical mass tort litigations, including Chantix and Lipitor. In addition to helping the clients of Lopez McHugh, Scott recently obtained a Certificate in Real Estate to coincide with his architectural background.
In his spare time, amongst other hobbies, Scott loves to play guitar, go to concerts, travel, play golf, and spend time with family and friends.
Best Concert & Best Trip Ever Taken: The best, most memorable concert I ever attended also happened to occur on the best trip I have ever taken. With my brother, Matthew, I was lucky enough to see Cream (with Eric Clapton) perform in London at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. We spent over two weeks traveling in Europe, from London to Brussels to Amsterdam to Paris and back to London, before traveling home. It is an experience that I will never forget!
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: The rewarding feeling I get from helping our clients is my favorite part about what we do here at Lopez McHugh. To this firm, getting justice and achieving the best possible outcome for each individual client is the primary objective, which is much different than many of the large pharmaceutical and insurance companies we go up against who are motivated by corporate profit and personal gain.
After earning her Associate of Arts degree in Psychology from Golden West College, Sarah Yescas joined Lopez McHugh in April of 2010. She has provided support with several of the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical device mass tort litigations, and currently devotes most of her time to the Lipitor litigation. Sarah is an important component of the firm’s efficiency group where she primarily handles working up client files. Naturally, this involves significant client contact and interaction. Based on our clients’ consistent endorsements, Ms. Yescas’ social skills have helped her excel in this area for the firm. Working to advance her legal education, Ms. Yescas is close to obtaining her paralegal certificate.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys singing, cooking, exercising, reading, and spending time with her wonderful family and friends.
Favorite Hobby: I love geology and gems! I have a small gem collection and, at one point, I was studying to become a gemologist.
Best Part About Working at Lopez McHugh: Beside the satisfaction I receive from interacting and getting to know our clients, I love that I can be proud of what I do. Knowing that what we do here makes a substantive and tangible difference in the lives of those who have been hurt by corporate greed and negligence brings joy to my heart. I also love the people that I work with and consider myself extremely fortunate to be part of the Lopez McHugh family.