Legal Memorandum: Summary Judgment in a 1983 Claim for Civil Conspiracy

Issue: When is summary judgment appropriate in a 1983 claim for civil conspiracy that resulted in an unlawful arrest and search?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Summary judgment; Civil rights violation claim for civil conspiracy; Unlawful arrest and search
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 756 F.2d 1032; 174 F.3d 424; 524 U.S. 357; 346 F. Supp. 202; 901 F.2d 387; 3 F.3d 89; 81 F.3d 416; 205 F.3d 720
Cited Statutes: 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983
Date: 04/01/2001

          The law governing dismissal is that the trial court should not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim unless it is beyond doubt that the plaintiff will be able to prove no set of facts in support of the claim that will entitle the plaintiff to relief.  Beckham v. Grand Affair of N.C., Inc., 671 F. Supp. 415, 420 (W.D.N.C. 1987).  In a conspiracy case under § 1983, the defendant must show the trial court that there is no set of facts to support the plaintiff’s allegation that the defendant engaged in a conspiracy, under color of state law, to deprive the plaintiff of a constitutional right.  Id. at 420.  When the plaintiff alleges that the defendant was involved in a conspiracy that culminated in an unconstitutional deprivation of due process by a wrongful arrest and unlawful search and seizure of property, the plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to state a § 1983 cause of action.  Id.  Likewise, the plaintiff’s allegation that each of the defendants agreed to the conspiracy, along with allegations of the defendants’ actions and the defendants’ positions in the conspiracy is sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.  Liner v. DiCresce, 905 F. Supp. 280, 286 (M.D.N.C. 1994).  Indeed, the trial court may not dismiss a complaint that simply alleges the elements of a civil conspiracy, unless it contains no facts that, if proven, will support the conspiracy allegation.  Id. at 288 (finding that an allegation that the defendant “knowingly assisted” another defendant in the […]

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