The Law Firm is Seeking Contribution and Indemnity?
Client sues attorneys for legal malpractice, and attorneys counterclaim against client for "contribution and indemnity." When may this properly go forward? What is "contribution" and what is "indemnity" ?
Contribution is the apportionment of fault among joint tortfeasors. Several contractors who each negligently damage a tenant might seek contribution among themselves.
Indemnity is the situation in which one party is only vicariously liable to plaintiffr and entitled to full recovery froma defendant who committed the wrong. A passive landlord might successfully seek indemnity from a negligent contractor who damages a tenant.
In 180 E. 88th St. Apt. Corp. v Law Off. of Robert Jay Gumenick, P.C. ; 2011 NY Slip Op 04096 ; decided on May 17, 2011 ;Appellate Division, First Department we see that indemnity is not always available to the attorney against the client.
"The motion court's dismissal of the Law Firm's counterclaims for contribution and indemnification from the corporate board and its members named as counterclaim-defendants, was proper, inasmuch as the challenged action by the board was undertaken in good faith and within its capacity as representative of the cooperative corporation and, in any event, such claims by the Law Firm may only be asserted against a culpable client by way of an affirmative defense, as a mitigating factor in the attorney's negligence (see Arnav Indus., Inc. Retirement Trust v Brown, Raysman, Millstein, Felder & Steiner, 96 NY2d 300, 305 note 2 ). "