March 29, 2015
In an important decision for this firm and several of our clients, the Finney Law Firm this week won an important victory in a $3.5 civil conspiracy case.
The case involved a 2004 sale of real property in Hamilton County Ohio. There, the buyer quickly marked up and “flipped” the property to several tenant-in-common owners as part of tax-free 1031 exchanges. The middleman was accused of making certain fraudulent misrepresentations in the sale to its buyers. Our clients, the first sellers, knew nothing about the transaction between the initial buyer and the ultimate investors, yet was charged at the trial with being part of a civil conspiracy to defraud the TIC owners.
Another firm handled the six week jury trial. We were hired as appellate counsel. The First District Court of Appeals correctly ruled that Plaintiffs in a civil conspiracy “must at least show ‘a common understanding or design, even if tacit, to commit an unlawful act.'” Because in this case there was not a shred of evidence that our clients knew of, much less participated in the acts to defraud the TIC owners, summary judgment should have been rendered in our client’s favor. The Court of Appeals ruled that the matter never should have been presented to a jury.