Former State Senator and current CD-46 candidate Joe Dunn’s lawsuit against the California State Bar Association was dismissed last week, when an arbitrator ruled Dunn had failed to prove he was illegally fired. The ruling did allow for Dunn to refile certain claims in the case.
The Daily Journal, a legal publication, reported the State Bar “secured a near knockout victory Friday in its contentious legal battle with former Executive Director Joseph L. Dunn. JAMS arbitrator Edward A. Infante dismissed all five of Dunn’s causes of action in his lawsuit alleging he was terminated for disclosing ethical breaches, prosecutorial lapses and fiscal improprieties at the agency.”
The arbitrator did allow Dunn to amend four of his five claims against the agency and two defendants by May 1 and Dunn’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, said he would and believes a trial would begin in August.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The five-part decision by retired U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Edward A. Infante also denied Dunn’s claims that the Bar and key officials violated their obligation to the organization and its members by covering up illegal and unflattering conduct by employees.
The arbitrator also threw out a claim that the Bar and certain officials violated their duty to the organization and its members by, among other things, authorizing a private investigation of Dunn, covering up backlogged complaints that Dunn said he discovered and then firing him and other employees for reporting the information.
Infante also dismissed the following complaints, while giving Dunn the option of revising them and refiling:
▪ The Bar wrongly leaked a confidential report on his conduct to the media to sully Dunn’s reputation and then failed to cooperate with investigators trying to find the leak’s source.
▪ Certain Bar officials sabotaged Dunn’s employment by commissioning a law firm to look into his conduct with the goal of terminating him.
▪ Bar officials acted in bad faith to undermine Dunn as the executive director, including making false statements and providing phony statistics to the organization’s board that ran down Dunn’s performance.
Infante gave Dunn, a former Democratic state senator now running to represent Orange County’s 46th Congressional District, until May 1 to refile. Dunn’s attorney, Mark Geragos, said, “Of course we will, and (all the defendants) will be held accountable when we try this case in August.”
State Bar President David Pasternak said in a press statement that, “We are pleased that the arbitrator recognized the significant deficiencies in this lawsuit and hope this brings an end to this disruptive litigation.”
CA Code of Civil Procedure allows a party to arbitration to go to court to seek the overturning of an award/ruling, but the moving party (in this case, Dunn) must allege corruption or some other type of malfeasance for the court to secure jurisdiction over the arbitration case.
Dunn’s employment contract spells out the terms of arbitration he agreed to and you can view it here.
We reached out to the Dunn campaign over the weekend for comment. Doug Herman, on behalf of the Dunn for Congress campaign, said: “Contrary to the Bar’s assertion, the case was not dismissed. The hearing date for the case is still scheduled for August and all three defendants will be there.”
According to the Daily Journal, the State Bar spent more than a half-million investigating Dunn before deciding to fire him.