Halica v. Singer
Generally, to prevail on an indemnification claim, a plaintiff must prove: 1.) the other tortfeasor was negligent; 2.) the other tortfeasor's negligence, as opposed to the plaintiff's negligence, was the direct, immediate cause of the injury; 3.) the other tortfeasor was in control, to the exclusion of the plaintiff; and 4.) the plaintiff did not know about the negligence and had no reason to anticipate the negligence. The plaintiff, Lorraine Halica, sued the defendant, Mark Singer, alleging that Singer was an active tortfeasor who allegedly committed fraud and who should indemnify Halica, a passive tortfeasor. Allegedly, Singer admitted that he instructed Halica to keep confidential an undisclosed "credit" that the purchaser provided, in connection with a consulting contract that lacked value, although Singer knew about Finance California's requirement that, at closing, the buyer contribute cash. In February 2011, the jury returned a plaintiff's verdict. In May 2011, the District Court denied Singer's motion for judgment as a matter of law. Singer appealed. The 2nd Circuit reviewed de novo. A jury reasonably could have found, based on the evidence of Singer's alleged fraud and manipulation, that Singer had sufficient control of the closing to support an award of indemnification. Halica asserted that she lacked any knowledge that the consulting contract was illusory or "that there was anything being hidden" from Finance California Inc. "[T]he record," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "contains ample evidence in support of Halica's position advanced at trial that she was a passive tortfeasor deserving of common law indemnification from the active tortfeasor, Singer, who committed fraud." The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Kravitz, J.