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Halberstam v. Welch - 227 U.S. App. D.C. 167, 705 F.2d 472 (1983)

Rule:

For harm resulting to a third person from the tortious conduct of another, one is subject to liability if he (a) does a tortious act in concert with the other or pursuant to a common design with him (conspiracy) or (b) knows that the other's conduct constitutes a breach of duty and gives substantial assistance or encouragement to the other so to conduct himself (aiding-abetting) or (c) gives substantial assistance to the other in accomplishing a tortious result and his own conduct, separately considered, constitutes a breach of duty to the third person.

Facts:

The personal representative of the physician's estate brought a wrongful death and survival action seeking damages based on consequences resulting from the physician's death during a burglary. The district court found that appellant, who was not a participant in the actual burglary, was jointly and severally liable with her live-in boyfriend for the killing of the physician under theories of conspiracy and aiding and abetting and awarded a monetary judgment against both of them. Appellant sought review on the issue of her liability.

Issue:

Was appellant jointly and severally liable with her live-in boyfriend for the killing of the physician under theories of conspiracy and aiding and abetting?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court found based on the record that appellant knew the purpose of her boyfriend's nightly outings and the means that he used to acquire their wealth. Further, appellant was a long-time willing partner in assisting her boyfriend dispose of the burglary proceeds. Appellant acted as a secretary and record-keeper for the burglary enterprise and maintained financial transactions solely in her name. Appellant also took unsubstantiated income tax deductions related to the burglary proceeds. The Court affirmed the district court's judgment finding appellant jointly and severally liable as a co-conspirator and joint venturer.

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