Virginia recognizes two claims for civil conspiracy – one under common law and the other under statute. Under Virginia common law, a claim for business conspiracy arises when a business is damaged by the unlawful acts of two or more persons. Under Virginia Code §§ 18.2-499 et seq., a conspiracy arises when two or more persons conspire to willfully or maliciously injure a plaintiff ‘s reputation, trade, business or profession. If a plaintiff successfully establishes the existence of a business conspiracy, he or she can recover punitive damages, treble damages (triple the amount of damages) and attorneys’ fees.
In defending against these claims, several defenses may apply including the intracorporate immunity doctrine. The intracorporate immunity doctrine states that a principal and an agent, acting within his or her scope of authority, do not constitute two or more persons for purposes of establishing a conspiracy. For example, a corporation and its employee, acting within the scope of his or her employment, are considered a single entity. Because a single entity cannot conspire with itself, a conspiracy claim would fail unless the plaintiff can establish the employee’s actions fell outside the scope of employment.
Every business conspiracy claim is different, and it’s important to have an experienced Virginia attorney who understands the nuances of your case. To contact a Virginia business lawyer, call 703-280-0037.