Elements of this cause of action: Civil Conspiracy Tort in Texas
The elements of a civil conspiracy claim are (1) two or more persons, (2) an object to be accomplished,
(3) a meeting of the minds on the object or course of action, (4) one or more unlawful, overt acts, and
(5) damages as the proximate result. Massey v. Armco Steel Co., 652 S.W.2d 932, 934 (Tex. 1983).
Civil Conspiracy is a Derivative Claim
09‑0796 JERRY GUMPERT AND MARTIN COYNE v. ABF FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., BARRY SIRCY,
TOMMY WALKER, ROBERT GRAVES, GEORGE WARREN, PERRY WAYNE MIDDLEBROOK, RICHARD
CRAWFORD, RICHARD FISER, DAN NOONKESTER, RICHARD MARTINEZ, RICHARD PASSMORE AND
LEONARD ESNER; from Dallas County; 5th district (05‑07‑01717‑CV, 293 SW3d 256, 05‑20‑09, pet
denied Nov. 2009)(defamation claim fails, civil conspiracy likewise in the absence of underlying tort)
(same-sex harassment, employment retaliation claim)
Because we have concluded the trial court properly granted summary judgment against Gumpert and
Coyne on their claims for violations of the Texas Labor Code and libel, we must also conclude the trial
court correctly granted summary judgment on Gumpert and Coyne's claims for conspiracy to violate the
Texas Labor Code and conspiracy to libel. Conspiracy is a derivative tort and liability is dependent upon
participation in an underlying tort by at least one defendant. See Preston Gate, LP v. Bukaty, 248 S.W.
3d 892, 898 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, no pet.). It is also unnecessary for us to address the cross-point of
error brought by the individual defendants relating to the record on appeal.
We affirm the trial court's judgment.
The elements of civil conspiracy are (1) a combination of two or more persons; (2) the objective to be
accomplished is an unlawful purpose or a lawful purpose by unlawful means; (3) a meeting of minds on
the object or course of action; (4) one or more unlawful, overt acts; and (5) damages as the proximate
result. Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Morris, 981 S.W.2d 667, 675 (Tex. 1998). Civil conspiracy requires specific
intent. Triplex Commc=ns Inc. v. Riley, 900 S.W.2d 716, 719 (Tex. 1995). For a civil conspiracy to
arise, the parties must be aware of the harm or wrongful conduct at the inception of the combination or
agreement. Id. Because liability depends on participation in some underlying tort, conspiracy is
considered a derivative tort. Baty, 63 S.W.3d at 864 (citing Tilton v. Marshall, 925 S.W.2d 672, 681
(Tex. 1996)). Therefore, to prevail on a civil conspiracy claim, the plaintiff must show the defendant was
liable for some underlying tort. Id. (citing Trammell Crow Co. No. 60 v. Harkinson, 944 S.W.2d 631, 635
(Tex. 1997)). Proof of a civil conspiracy may be, and usually must be, made by circumstantial evidence,
but vital facts may not be proved by unreasonable inferences from other facts and circumstances.
Schlumberger Well Surveying Corp. v. Nortex Oil & Gas Corp., 435 S.W.2d 854, 858 (Tex. 1969).
SP MIDTOWN, LTD. D/B/A SPACE PLACE MIDTOWN v. URBAN STORAGE, L.P. AND MIDTOWN
STORAGE, L.L.C.; from Harris County; 14th district (14‑07‑00717‑CV, ___ SW3d ___, 05-08-08)
SP Midtown Ltd. v. Urban Storage, LLC (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] May 8, 2008)(Anderson)
(trade secrets, tortious interference)