Our Firm

Who We are

Cornwell & Sample is dedicated exclusively to the representation of members of our community who have suffered physical or emotional injuries or lost family members as the result of the wrongful conduct of others.

Stephen R. Cornwell is the most experienced plaintiff’s personal injury attorney in the Valley, having tried over 150 cases in his 40 plus year career. He is the lawyer other lawyers seek out when experience is required to unravel complex issues and to fight against big defendants including Southern Pacific Railroad, Toyota, CIBA-Geigy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Southern California Electric Company.

René Turner Sample is the most experienced female plaintiff personal injury attorney in the Valley, having tried over 50 cases in her 25 plus year career. She is the lawyer other lawyers seek out when experience is required to convey the devastation an injuryor loss has had on a victim and their family.

Together, Steve and René have advocated for hundreds of families and ensured they received full and complete compensation for their injuries and losses, leading the fight to set high standards for safety and justice in our Valley. Their philosophy is simple, fight until it is made right. Not only do they know how and when to fight, but they can fund the fight. Their years of success for prior clients provides the resources to fight against the biggest insurance companies and corporations in the country. Cornwell & Sample knows and hires the right experts. They utilize state-of-the-art technology, focus groups and mock juries, as well as innovative demonstrative evidence.

Although when facing the insurance companies and corporations it is about the battle for justice, when facing their clients, it is about relationships. They have helped many families during difficult times and go to great lengths to provide a welcoming and reassuring environment where clients are treated as if they were family.

The office staff is also like a family composed of many dedicated persons, most of whom have been with the firm for many years.

Our Attorneys

aIMG_0010Stephen R. Cornwell is recognized as one of the most experienced plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys in the San Joaquin Valley, having tried over 150 cases in his 40 plus year career.  He was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, educated at San Jose State (BS 1964) and the University of California, Berkeley – Boalt Hall (JD 1967). He was admitted to the bar in 1967. He spent three years as a prosecutor in the Ventura County District Attorneys Office. In 1970, he joined the firm of McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Coyle & Best (later named McCormick, Barstow, Sheppard, Wayte & Carruth). At McCormick he specialized in a civil tort practice trying over one hundred jury trials. His experience involved trials in the areas of general negligence actions representing both plaintiffs and defendants, flood damage, employment representing both plaintiffs and defendants, fire, electricity, professional liability, crop damage, law firm dissolution, governmental entities, the defense of day-care centers, premises liability and products liability actions. He has defended several judges in matters before the California Commission on Judicial Performance. He has served, by appointment of the court, as Chair of the Defense Steering Committee for the 1994 Dust Storm suits, the largest motor vehicle accident in the history of the United States and Chair for the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in several large multiple motor vehicle collisions. He has appeared in numerous United States District Courts, before the Fifth District Court of Appeal and before the California Supreme Court.

Professional affiliations include the American Board of Trial Advocates in which he was admitted in 1973.  He was elevated in ABOTA to the rank of Diplomate in 1995. He has served as President of the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of ABOTA and served as President of the California Chapters of ABOTA in 2002. He was invited to join and became a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1997.  He has repeatedly been voted as a Super Lawyer in California and in 2014 was selected by his peers to be included in the Best Lawyers in America.

In November of 2000, he withdrew as a senior partner in civil litigation from the McCormick firm and formed his partnership with René Turner Sample as Cornwell & Sample, a firm specializing in civil trial practice for plaintiffs only. He is admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. As a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, he has handled complex civil cases, representing families in litigation against large corporations and cases involving extremely serious injuries only the most experienced plaintiff’s attorneys can handle. He finds the answers when other lawyers would have given up. His experience and tenacity have resulted in him having some of the most newsworthy verdicts and largest settlements in the Valley.

 

 

 

aIMG_0008René Turner Sample is recognized as one of the most experienced and successful female trial lawyers in Central California. She was the first female member of the San Joaquin Valley Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates which selects its members based on jury trial experience, skill, civility and integrity. She remains the only female member of the chapter who specializes in plaintiff’s personal injury. She has been voted by Martindale Hubble as one of California’s Preeminent Women Lawyers. Born and raised in Fresno, California, René graduated magna cum laude from California State University, Fresno in 1983 and with distinction from San Joaquin College of Law in 1988. René has been married to Scott Sample for almost 30 years, has two adult children, and is an active member of The Well Community Church.

René is the past president for the Central California Trial Lawyers’ Association and an active Board member of the Consumer Attorneys of California. She is a frequent lecturer on civil litigation. René has actually taught many of the valley’s litigators, having been an adjunct faculty member at San Joaquin College of Law teaching Civil Trial Advocacy for 15 years. She has tried over 50 jury trials to verdict throughout the San Joaquin Valley and is one of the valley’s few plaintiffs’ lawyers, and the only female plaintiffs’ lawyer, to have two personal injury jury verdicts in excess of one million dollars.

René has tried a variety of cases, but considers her specialty to be personal injury and insurance-based cases. Some of her recent trial results include: premises liability (grocery store slip and fall) resulting in shoulder replacement surgery (jury verdict $1.2 million), motor vehicle accident resulting in mild traumatic brain injury ($2 million jury verdict), metal object in restaurant meal resulting in dental injuries ($300,000 jury verdict), insurance bad faith for failure to pay severely injured plaintiff the $15,000 policy limits in a timely manner ($900,000 jury verdict), and premises liability against a governmental entity (unmarked and unlit stair) resulting in a fractured arm which didn’t heal properly due to medical malpractice ($300,000 arbitration award for premises liability plus a $300,000 arbitration award for the medical malpractice.) Prior to dedicating her practice exclusively to representing persons and/or families who have been injured, she spent 12 years representing the insurance companies where she tried over 20 cases. René has brought her knowledge of the inner workings of insurance companies to her plaintiffs’ practice and is now exclusively dedicated to helping those who have been injured. She has also brought her life experience of helping others in her church and community to her practice, demonstrating that the best advocates are those who genuinely care about their clients.

 

 

 

Call to speak to our attorneys at (559) 431-3142 or contact us by email.

Our Staff

aIMG_0002Mary Ann Banko is easily the most experienced plaintiffs’ personal injury paralegal in the Valley with nearly 40 years of experience, working exclusively for persons and families who have suffered losses as the result of the wrongful conduct of others.  Mary Ann has been an integral part of René Sample’s litigation team since 2004.

 

aIMG_0007Yer Xiong obtained her BA in Legal Studies from University of California at Berkley in 2009 and her paralegal certificate from Fresno City College in 2011. Yer is fluent in Hmong, knowledgeable in all aspect of litigation support and intends to pursue her law degree.

 

aIMG_0004Margaret Valenzuela was born and raised in Mission, Texas, and has lived in Fresno since 1983. Margaret has been with Cornwell & Sample since 2007. She is the file clerk and speaks fluent Spanish.

 

aIMG_0006Kim Santos is the office bookkeeper and has been with the firm since the beginning. Kim resides in Oakhurst and is active in her church and for many years has been a lead organizer of His Hand/His Feet, a local community outreach program for needy families.

 

aIMG_0001Denise Woodward handles Client Intake and Medical Records file organization. Denise comes to us with many years spent as a systems analyst in a health care setting and has worn many other hats in her working career.  She is very involved with the activities of her five grandchildren.
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Cornwell and Sample, LLC
7045 N. Fruit Ave., Fresno, CA 93711
call us 559.431.3142