Under Kansas law, civil conspiracy has five elements: two or more persons; an object to be accomplished; a meeting of the minds in the object or course of action; one or more unlawful overt acts; and damages as the proximate result thereof. When all elements are present, any act done by a member of the conspiracy in furtherance of the common object and in accordance with the general plan becomes the act of all, and each conspirator is responsible for the act. Because direct evidence is rarely available, a civil conspiracy may be proved by circumstantial evidence. Consequently, the existence of the conspiracy may be proved by proving the acts of the various defendants.
A case was field for intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and negligence claims against a tortfeasor for injuries that she sustained in an automobile accident. The tortfeasor screamed vile and threatening obscenities at the injured motorist, shaking his fist and making obscene gestures in a violent manner. The driver of the tortfeasor's car revved the car's engine and moved it back and forth while the tortfeasor was threatening the injured motorist. Although the tortfeasor was not driving the other vehicle, the injured motorist contended that his intentional acts to scare her were sufficient to make him liable. The district court dismissed her claim. The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals of Kansas.
Was the dismissal proper?
The Court held that although the tortfeasor claimed that he was just trying to amuse his friends, the court found that the tortfeasor's verbal threats to remove the injured motorist from her car, coupled with his physical actions, were sufficient evidence that the injured motorist was placed in apprehension of bodily harm. Whether his actions constituted assault was a question of fact for the jury. The court also found that the unintended consequences of the tortfeasor's intentional acts could constitute negligence because it was foreseeable that the injured motorist's fright would create a risk of harm. Whether the actions of the driver of the tortfeasor's car in swerving toward the injured motorist's van were unforeseeable and constituted an intervening cause was a question of fact for the jury.