September 01, 2017 Practice Points

Jury Finds for JAMS in Résumé Padding Case

By Mitchell Marinello

A San Diego lawsuit, brought by Kevin Kinsella against retired judge Sheila Sonenshine and JAMS, has been dismissed following a jury trial.

In the lawsuit, Kinsella claimed that Sonenshine had padded her résumé in order to attract clients by incorrectly stating that she had founded a private equity fund when, in fact, she had not. Kinsella also claimed that Sonenshine failed to disclose that an investment bank she claimed to have founded had paid $41 million to settle fraud claims after her departure. Kinsella argued that these misrepresentations caused him to select Sonenshine to decide matters concerning his divorce. He sought to recover over $1 million from Sonenshine and JAMS.

In May 2017, after a trial, the jury came in with a mixed verdict. It reportedly was deadlocked 8–4 in favor of Sonenshine and JAMS as to whether Sonenshine had misrepresented her credentials. However, it reportedly decided by an 11–1 vote that Sonenshine's résumé was not a substantial factor in causing Kinsella any damage.

Practice Pointer
The fact that this case survived dispositive motions and went to a jury trial alerted arbitrators and mediators everywhere that the usual rules that protect them from personal liability did not necessarily apply if there were inaccuracies in their résumés. The practical advice is crystal clear: make sure your résumé is accurate and does not misstate or exaggerate your qualifications.

Mitchell L. Marinello is a partner at Novack and Macey LLP in Chicago, Illinois.

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