Civil conspiracy is a claim that can be asserted when multiple defendants combine to do something unlawful to cause damages. Civil conspiracy is not an independent tort, but rather, a theory of vicarious liability which requires some underlying wrong. Civil conspiracy depends entirely on the injury caused by an underlying tort; the injury is the damage from the underlying wrong, not the conspiracy itself. Agar Corporation, Inc. v. Electro Circuits International, LLC, 580 S.W.3d 136, 141-142 (Tex. 2019).
Elements. There are five elements required to prove civil conspiracy: 1) a combination of two or more persons; 2) the persons seek to accomplish an object or course of action; 3) the persons reach a meeting of the minds on the object or course of action; 4) one or more unlawful, overt acts are taken in pursuance of the object or course of action; and 5) damages occur as a proximate result. Tri v. J.T.T., 162 S.W.3d 552, 556 (Tex. 2005). The claim requires evidence of a specific intent to agree to accomplish something unlawful or to accomplish something lawful by unlawful means. First United Pentecostal Church of Beaumont v. Parker, 514 S.W.3d 214, 222 (Tex. 2017). This necessarily requires a meeting of the minds on the object or course of action. Tri, 162 S.W.3d at 556 (citing Massey v. Armco Steel Co., 652 S.W.2d 932, 934 (Tex. 1983). The conspiring parties must be aware of the intended harm or proposed wrongful conduct at the outset of the combination or agreement. Firestone Steel Prods. Co. v. Barajas, 927 S.W.2d 608, 614 (Tex. 1996); see also, Schlumberger Well Surveying Corp. v. Nortex Oil & Gas Corp., 435 S.W.2d 854, 857 (Tex. 1968).
Statute of Limitations. Civil conspiracy is a theory of derivative liability that shares a limitations period with the underlying tort at issue in the particular case. Agar Corporation, at 143. The limitations period begins to accure when each alleged underlying tort acrues. Id. at 145.
© 2020 Mark Courtois