Legal Memorandum: Elements of Civil Conspiracy Claim in WI

Issue: Under Wisconsin law, what is required to properly state a claim for civil conspiracy?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Civil conspiracy; Element
Jurisdiction: Wisconsin
Cited Cases: 102 Wis. 2d 705; 550 U.S. 544; 75 Wis. 2d 207; 356 Wis. 2d 665; 249 N.W.2d 547
Cited Statutes: Wis. Stat. § 134.01
Date: 06/01/2015

To state a cause of action for common law civil conspiracy,*FN1 the complaint must allege three primary elements: “(1) The formation and operation of the conspiracy; (2) the wrongful act or acts done pursuant thereto; and (3) the damage resulting from such act or acts.” Onderdonk v. Lamb, 79 Wis. 2d 241, 247 (1979).

To properly plead a civil conspiracy claim the plaintiff is required to allege substantially more than bare legal elements or conclusions. Recently, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, (2007), is “consistent with our precedent.” Data Key Ptrs. v. Permira Advisers LLC, 356 Wis. 2d 665, 680 (Wis. 2014). In Data Key, the court noted that Wisconsin pleading requirements are in accord with Twombley‘s*FN2 holding that:

[P]laintiff’s pleading obligation required more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Furthermore, on a motion to dismiss, courts are not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation. The [Twombley] Court explained that the need at the pleading stage for allegations plausibly suggesting (not merely consistent with) agreement reflects the threshold requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) that the ‘plain statement’ possess enough heft to show that the pleader is entitled to relief.


Data Key, 356 Wis. 2d at 678-79 (internal citations […]

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