The State Bar has prevailed after trial in a high-profile legal battle with its former Executive Director, Joseph Dunn, winning judgment on the two remaining claims in the complaint: whistleblower retaliation and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Dunn, who was represented by Mark Geragos of Geragos & Geragos, had sought over $4 million in damages.
In his decision, JAMS Arbitrator Edward A. Infante found that Dunn deserved neither.
During a five-day arbitration in February, Hueston Hennigan, which represented the Bar, argued that far from retaliation against him, the agency fired Dunn based on misconduct and false representations he made to the Bar board. The Bar decided to terminate him after it had hired an independent law firm to conduct an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing made against Dunn by former Bar Chief Trial Counsel Jayne Kim.
Judge Infante ruled: “Claimant’s actions caused the Board to question Claimant’s motivations and damaged Claimant’s relationships with both internal staff and key stakeholders. The State Bar introduced evidence indicating that the Trustees considered each of Claimant’s breaches to be significant and substantial.”
Moreover, although Dunn referred to himself as a “whistleblower,” the arbitrator found that he never established a legal basis for doing so:
“Claimant failed to demonstrate that he engaged in protected “Whistleblower” activity….Claimant also failed to demonstrate that his comments…had any causal connection to the Board’s decision to terminate his employment. Furthermore, the State Bar’s evidence demonstrates that the Board had a legitimate, non-retaliatory explanation for its decision to terminate Claimant’s employment.”
In addition to the Dunn matter, Hueston Hennigan represents the Bar in a series of other lawsuits brought by former Bar employees.