Using Civil Conspiracy to Establish Vicarious Liability

Determining Evidence to Prove a Conspiratorial Agreement; Circumstantial Evidence; Personal Jurisdiction

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A


Conducted on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide trial lawyers with detailed guidance on a valuable but underutilized tool to expand the scope of liability in a civil action: pleading and proving the existence of a conspiracy. This webinar will address, among other things, the many misconceptions about this powerful legal concept.

Description

Nearly every court that addresses a conspiracy uses words meaning a "civil conspiracy is not a cause of action." Although those words are true, a conspiracy, if properly pleaded and supported with evidence, can make all the parties to the conspiracy liable for all acts of the other parties from the time the conspiracy was formed. Trial attorneys can use evidence of a civil conspiracy to expand the scope of those liable. Conspiracy can also be the basis for personal jurisdiction.

Courts have many ways to state the elements of a civil conspiracy, but those descriptions all involve multiple people with an agreement as to a common goal, who engage in a wrongful act or acts to bring that goal about. Those elements, though, present many questions. Among others, courts address whether an entity and its employees are multiple people, or just one. Because there are no written agreements to undertake wrongful acts, courts grapple with the admissibility of evidence to prove a conspiratorial agreement.

These issues often create a path to summary judgment for defendants. Many courts acknowledge the inherent difficulty of proving acts that occurred behind closed doors and are generous with inferences, subject to the counterweight against proceeding to trial with only inferences of a conspiracy from circumstantial evidence.

Listen as our panel discusses the nuances of pleading and proving a civil conspiracy.

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Outline

  1. Conspiracy generally
    1. Device not a claim
    2. Scope of vicarious liability
    3. Co-conspirator personal jurisdiction
  2. Multiple parties
    1. Corporation and officer, director, employee
    2. Other principal and agent situations
    3. Attorney and client
  3. Agreed concert of action, proof of agreement
  4. Unlawful purpose vs. unlawful act
  5. Summary judgment issues
    1. Permitted inferences
    2. Circumstantial vs. direct evidence

Benefits

The panel will review these and other relevant matters:

  • Civil conspiracy background
  • Challenges in meeting elements
  • Level of proof at summary judgment and trial

Faculty

Hegarty, Matthew
Matthew J. Hegarty

Member
Hall & Evans

Mr. Hegarty joined the firm in 2012 and was promoted to Member effective September 2019. His practice concentrates on...  |  Read More

Molster, Charles
Charles B. Molster, III

Founder
The Law Offices of Charles B. Molster III

Mr. Molster has extensive experience as a trial lawyer handling complex litigation matters in federal and state courts...  |  Read More

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