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Komlosi v. Fudenberg

December 9, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pitman, United States Magistrate Judge


I. Introduction

By letter dated July 31, 2009, plaintiff/judgment-creditor Mark Komlosi, who is now proceeding pro se, requests this Court's assistance in his attempts to compel New York State to indemnify defendant/judgment debtor Melanie Fudenberg pursuant to New York Public Officers Law Section 17 for the $2,372,988 judgment entered in this matter on March 29, 2001.

Although Komlosi does not identify the precise relief he is requesting, I construe his application as (1) a request for an order directing New York State to indemnify Fudenberg, or, alternatively, (2) a motion to clarify or amend the judgment in this case to reflect that acts giving rise to the judgment against Fudenberg were not intentional.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, Komlosi's application is denied.

II. Facts

These proceedings arise out of a civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which plaintiff, a psychologist formerly employed by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities ("OMRDD"), claimed that defendant violated his federally protected rights by causing false charges of sexual misconduct to be made against him. With the parties' consent pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 636(c), this matter was tried to a jury and myself from May 24, through June 3, 1999. The jury returned a verdict in plaintiff's favor on two of the three theories submitted to it and awarded $6.6 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. After trial, I granted defendant's motion for an order directing the entry of judgment in her favor with respect to one of the two theories on which the jury found for plaintiff and ordered a new trial on the issue of damages unless plaintiff consented to remittitur. See Komlosi v. Fudenberg, 88 Civ. 1792 (HBP), 2000 WL 351414 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, 2000). Plaintiff then stipulated to remit compensatory damages to the extent they exceeded $1,872,988 and punitive damages to the extent they exceeded $500,000 (Order, dated Mar. 26, 2001 (Docket Item 135)).

Fudenberg first demanded indemnification from OMRDD under Public Officer's Law Section 17 on April 5, 2001 (Letter from Mark E. Goidell to OMRDD Commissioner Thomas Maul, dated April 5, 2001, annexed to Plaintif[f]'s Reply to the State's Memorandum of Law per Court Order dated August 6, 2009, ("Pl's Response")). According to Komlosi, Fudenberg is disabled and unemployed, and her sole source of income is Social Security Disability benefits totaling $1,200 per month (Letter from Mark Komlosi to the Honorable Henry B. Pitman, dated July 31, 2009 ("Komlosi Letter") at 2). On October 28, 2003, I granted Komlosi's motion to be appointed post-judgment receiver for purposes of administering, prosecuting and liquidating Fudenberg's claims against third parties for indemnification of the judgment or for damages that could be used to satisfy the judgment (Order, dated Oct. 28, 2003 (Docket Item 143)). Since then Komlosi has made numerous demands upon the New York State Attorney General and OMRDD on Fudenberg's behalf (Komlosi Letter at 1-2), which were ultimately denied on July 1, 2009 on the grounds that the acts which resulted in the judgment against Fudenberg were intentional and not within the scope of her employment (Letter from June Duffy to Mark Komlosi, dated July 1, 2009, annexed to Komlosi Letter).

Komlosi contends that the Attorney General and OMRDD's denial of Fudenberg's demand for indemnification is incorrect. He argues that the state should be bound by its previous offers to indemnify her as well as its prior statements that she was acting within the scope of her employment (Pl's Response at 7).

Komlosi also argues that there is no basis on which to find that Fudenberg acted intentionally because the malicious prosecution verdict could have been based on recklessness (Pl's Response at 16-17). He cites Fudenberg's bipolar disorder as evidence that she did not act intentionally because it caused her "misinterpret" reality and actually "suspect" that Komlosi committed sexual misconduct (Komlosi Letter at 2, Pl's Response at 12). According to Komlosi, Fudenberg would not have induced the purported victim, David Rosenberg, to falsely accuse Komlosi of sexual misconduct (Pl's Response at 12) and Rosenberg's testimony to that effect at trial was false (Komlosi Letter at 2). Komlosi also contends that even if Fudenberg's behavior was intentional, the state should indemnify her because it has indemnified employees for judgments based on intentional conduct in the past (Pl's Response at 9).

Finally, Komlosi claims that because of Fudenberg's mental illness, "primary responsibility" for the malicious prosecution lies with OMRDD because they should have known about her condition and either treated it or transferred her to a position without patient contact (Pl's Response at 13).

By order dated August 6, 2009, I directed the parties to submit memoranda of law addressing whether (a) the Court has subject matter jurisdiction to entertain this application; (b) the application is barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (c) plaintiff has standing to assert a claim for indemnification under Section 17 of New York's Public Officers Law; (d) the application fails on the merits because plaintiff appears to now be claiming that liability arises from a non-intentional tort while the trial proceeded on the theory that Fudenberg had intentionally and maliciously caused plaintiff to be prosecuted for a crime he did not commit, and (e) the application suffers from other defects (Docket Item 144).

III. Analysis

A. Indemnification of ...

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