The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
- AND, The Guide is updated annually.

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Civil Conspiracy

1 Elements and Case Citations

  1. Existence of an underlying tort;
  2. Formation of an agreement to commit an unlawful act;
  3. Wrongful act or acts committed in furtherance of the common design; and
  4. Resulting injury to Plaintiff.

In California civil conspiracy is “not a cause of action, but a legal doctrine that imposes liability on persons who, although not actually committing a tort themselves, share with the immediate tortfeasors a common plan or design in its perpetration.”  Applied Equip. Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd., 7 Cal. 4th 503, 510-11 (1994).

CALIFORNIA STATE COURTS

Supreme Court of California: Rusheen v. Cohen, 37 Cal. 4th 1048, 1062 (2006).

California 1st Dist.: AREI II Cases, 216 Cal. App. 4th 1004, 1022 (2013).

California 2d Dist.: City of Industry v. City of Fillmore, 198 Cal. App. 4th 191, 212 (2011).

California 4th Dist.:  Richard B. LeVine, Inc. v. Higashi, 131 Cal. App. 4th 566, 574 & 579 (2005); Choate v. County of Orange, 86 Cal. App. 4th 312, 333 (2000).

California 5th Dist.: Mendoza v. Continental Sales Co., 140 Cal. App. 4th 1395, 1406 n.7 (2006).

California 6th Dist.: Berg & Berg Enterprises, LLC v. Sherwood Partners, Inc., 131 Cal. App. 4th 802, 823 (2005).

CALIFORNIA FEDERAL COURTS

United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Young v. Hamilton, 92 Fed. Appx. 389, 393 (9th Cir. 2003).

Central District:  Velasco v. Homewide Lending Corp., No. SACV 13-00698-CJC(RNBx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87880, at *15 (C.D. Cal. June 21, 2013).

Eastern District:  Alimena v. Vericrest Fin., Inc., No. CIV.  S-12-0901 LKK/JFM, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112814, at *33. (E.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 2013).

Northern District:  Rockridge Trust v. Wells Fargo, N.A., No. C-13-01457 JCS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139606, at *109-110 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2013); Everflow Tech. Corp. v. Millennium Elecs., Inc., No. C07-05795 HRL, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131390, at *19-20 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 13, 2013).

Southern District:  Wallack v. Idexx Labs., Inc., No. 11cv2996-GPC(KSC), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131403, at *41 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 12, 2013).

2 Defenses to Claim for Civil Conspiracy

(1)   Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses.  See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2)   Statute of Limitations: Follows statute for the underlying tort, and begins to run only after cessation of the unlawful acts committed in furtherance of the conspiracy.  Schessler v. Keck, 125 Cal. App. 2d 827, 833 (1954).

(3)   Agreement: Circumstantial evidence may suffice to establish Defendant’s agreement. Wyatt v. Union Mortgage Co., 598 P.2d 45, 52 (1979).

(4)   Corporate Directors: Corporate directors are not personally liable merely because of their positions, unless they ordered or agreed or authorized the wrongful act. United States Liab. Ins. Co. v. Haidinger-Hayes, Inc., 1 Cal. 3d 586, 595 (1970).

(5)   No Tort Occurred:  “Standing alone, a conspiracy does no harm and engenders no tort liability. It must be activated by the commission of an actual tort. ‘“A civil conspiracy, however atrocious, does not per se give rise to a cause of action unless a civil wrong has been committed resulting in damage.”’”  Applied Equip. Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd., 7 Cal. 4th 503, 510-11 (1994).

(6)   No Duty Owed by Alleged Coconspirator:  “[A] party who is not personally bound by the duty violated may not be held liable for civil conspiracy even though it may have participated in the agreement underlying the injury.”  Mosier v. S. Cal. Physicians Ins. Exch., 63 Cal. App. 4th 1022, 1048 (1998).

(7)   Actual Knowledge of Scheme Required:  “Actual knowledge and concurrence in a planned tortious scheme are required for civil conspiracy.”  Cole v. Patricia A. Meyer & Associates, APC, 206 Cal. App. 4th 1095, 1106 (2012).

(8) Attorney as Co-Conspirator:  California Civil Code section 1714.10 lays out the requirements for a “cause of action against attorney based on civil conspiracy with client.”  It requires, inter alia, that prior to the filing of the complaint “the court enters an order allowing the pleading that includes the claim for civil conspiracy to be filed after the court determines that the party seeking to file the pleading has established that there is a reasonable probability that the party will prevail in the action.”  Cal. Civ. Code § 1714.10(a).  Failure to obtain the court order “shall be a defense to any action for civil conspiracy filed in violation thereof.”  Id. at § 1714.10(b).  However, “[t]his section shall not apply to a cause of action against an attorney for a civil conspiracy with his or her client, where (1) the attorney has an independent legal duty to the plaintiff, or (2) the attorney’s acts go beyond the performance of a professional duty to serve the client and involve a conspiracy to violate a legal duty in furtherance of the attorney's financial gain.”  Id. at § 1714.10(c).