Common Law Conspiracies in Virginia
In Virginia, a common law conspiracy consists of two or more persons combined to accomplish, by some concerted action, some criminal or unlawful purpose by a criminal or unlawful means. Therefore, an allegation of conspiracy, whether criminal or civil, must at least allege an unlawful act or an unlawful purpose. Moreover, in Virginia, a common law conspiracy generally requires proof that the underlying tort was committed. Consequently, an action for civil conspiracy will not lie unless the predicate unlawful act independently imposes liability upon the primary wrongdoer. Furthermore, common law conspiracy must be pled with particularity.
Virginia also features a statutory conspiracy cause of action. Code of Virginia §§ 18.2-499 and 18.2-500 provide a civil cause of action against any two or more persons who “combine, associate, agree, mutually undertake or concert together for the purpose of… willfully and maliciously injuring another in his reputation, trade, business or profession by any means whatever” or against one person for “attempt[ing] to procure the participation, cooperation, agreement or other assistance of any one or more persons” to do so. To recover in an action for conspiracy to harm a business, the plaintiff must prove a combination of two or more persons for the purpose of willfully and maliciously injuring the plaintiff in his business and resulting damage to the plaintiff. Like common law conspiracy, business conspiracy must be pleaded with particularity.
We have extensive experience defending both common law and statutory conspiracy claims, and in the right circumstances, we can pursue such claims.