Michelman & Robinson’s client, Jet Edge International, is a leader in full-service global private aviation, specializing in Gulfstream jets. Jet Edge offers aircraft owners full-service aircraft management, and individual charter clients and corporations enjoy 365-day-a-year access to one of the most diverse and luxurious aircraft fleets in the world. Bottom line: Jet Edge is an extraordinary (and very cool!) client and company. Unfortunately, it has had to endure some significant problems at the hands of its former Assistant Director of Operations, Paul Schembari, and others.
Schembari, working with Tokyo-based Sojitz Corp., among others, secretly plotted to steal Jet Edge customers. And steal business he did. In February 2016, while still a Jet Edge employee, Schembari, on behalf of his own holding company (Cosa di Famiglia Holdings, LLC), executed a broker agreement in furtherance of efforts to set up a competing aircraft management company (ACP Jet Charters, Inc., now doing business as Phenix Jet). Schembari then resigned from Jet Edge, and in May 2016, there was an exodus of several Jet Edge customers, all of whom took their business to the newly created Phenix Jet. In response, Jet Edge sued Schembari for breach of an employment agreement and breach of his duty of loyalty. In addition, Jet Edge prosecuted a claim for intentional interference with contractual relations against Schembari and his affiliated corporate entities – Cosa di Famiglia, ACP and Phenix Jet. Jet Edge has also filed a separate case against Sojitz that is currently pending.
After a seven-day jury trial before the Honorable Jesus G. Bernal and just over two years after the filing of the case captioned Western Air Charter, Inc., dba Jet Edge International v. Schembari et al., a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California awarded Jet Edge $11,903,000 (compensatory damages in the amount of $4,603,000 and $7,300,000 in punitive damages). This was a tremendous win for M&R, its trial team (Mona Hanna, Robert Estrin, Jesse Krompier and Mariam Tarzi) and our very happy client.
Thank you to the trial team, and all those involved in this successful outcome for the client.