Is Conspiracy An Independent Tort In California ?
Does Conspiracy Allow Tort Recovery Against a Party Who Already Owes the Duty and Is Not Immune from Liabilty Based on Applicable Substantive Tort Law Principles ?
In Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudia Arabia Ltd. (1994) 7 Cal. 4th 503, 512 28 Cal. Rptr. 2d 475, 869 P.2d 454, the California Supreme Court further explained that "Conspiracy is not an independent tort; it cannot create a duty or abrogate an immunity.
It allows tort recovery only against a party who already owes the duty and is not immune from liability based upon applicable substantive tort law principles." (Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia, Ltd., supra, 7 Cal. 4th at p. 514.)
Section 1714.10, subdivision (c) reflects these basic concepts by not applying the statute's procedural hurdle to situations where the attorney has a duty to the plaintiff, or to situations where the attorney acts not merely as an agent but as an individual in furtherance of the attorney's financial gain.
In so doing, section 1714.10 exempts viable conspiracy actions against an attorney and his or her client from its procedural hurdle.
The problem may be due to the use of the phrase "independent duty" in Doctors' Co., as if the word "independent" changes on some level the basic fact that conspiracy law allows tort recovery "only against a party who already owes the duty and is not immune from liability based on applicable substantive tort law principles." (Applied Equipment Corp. v. Litton Saudi Arabia Ltd., supra, 7 Cal. 4th at p. 514.)