Griva v. Davison

637 A.2d 830 (D.C. 1994)



The elements of civil conspiracy are: (1) an agreement between two or more persons; (2) to participate in an unlawful act, or in a lawful act in an unlawful manner; and (3) an injury caused by an unlawful overt act performed by one of the parties to the agreement (4) pursuant to, and in furtherance of, the common scheme. In addition, civil conspiracy depends on the performance of some underlying tortious act. It is thus not an independent action; it is, rather, a means for establishing vicarious liability for the underlying tort. 


Appellant client was a general partner is a partnership with her brother and sister. The law firm represented the partnership, as well as the brother and the sister on matters relating to the partnership. When the law firm refused the client access to the files concerning such representation, she alleged ethical violations. The law firm argued that she had retained other counsel to represent her, which precluded their representation of her, and, thus, she was not entitled to access to the files. The appellee court granted appellee summary judgment. On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the law firm regarding the client's claim of civil conspiracy. The court reversed the grant as to the remaining ethical violation claims, and remanded for trial.


Did appellee successfully allege a civil conspiracy?




The court agreed that the client failed to plead a civil conspiracy. Appellee contends that her claim for breach of fiduciary duty is the underlying tortious act, and thus that summary judgment should not have been granted in defendants' favor. Griva has not successfully alleged a civil conspiracy. Griva does not allege any agreement, and she does not claim actual damages; she merely seeks nominal damages of $ 1. The trial court, therefore, correctly entered summary judgment on claim two in appellees' favor.

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