Conspiracy, for the legal eagles

Right, one of my reporters is looking into a lawsuit between a bank in Zanesville, Ohio and their (now) Ex-CEO. Seems he was a bad man and not operating in their interests but in the interests of a larger bank, local to my home of Marietta, Ohio.

My question is thus: There are several complaints against the guy, most of which I get, but one of them is ‘Conspiracy to Defraud’. My issue here is that he’s the only one named in the complaint. The CEO of the larger bank is mentioned five times in the complaint but is NOT named as a defendant.

Doesn’t conspiracy require more than one? The complaint, as mentioned, says he met with and provided information to ‘Senior Management’ at the larger bank but only the CEO is mentioned by name.

The lawyer for the plaintiff, whom we’ve already interviewed, declined to comment substantively in advance of discovery, which he says will include all relevant information from the larger bank.

My guess, he’s hoping to get better evidence that will allow him to add the larger bank’s CEO and other members of senior management as defendants. But I don’t know enough about the law here to be sure.


The Complaint (in PDF format) 12 pages.

A jury trial has been requested. Is that defendant?

IANAL, but have a WAG: “Conspiracy” in its manifold forms is a crime, and like any other crime, is charged against an individual. It does require two or more persons to enter into a conspiracy, of course, but they would be charged separately, if at all. It’s possible that under Ohio law, the only person on whom they have sufficient evidence to convict of all the elements required to get a conviction is the Zanesville NB ex-CEO. (The others would be, shades of Watergate, “unindicted co-conspirators.” ;))

That’s all I got. Worth remembering is Heinlein’s quote about Teapot Dome, where Secretary Fall was convicted of receiving a bribe that the other guy as acquitted of paying out. The ability to make a case stand up in court is a big factor in who gets charged with what.

Well, it’s a civil suit. The plaintiffs have considerable discretion whether to sue, and whom to sue. At para. 37, they’ve alleged that the defendant “knowingly conspired with senior executive of Peoples Bank to defraud Plaintiffs,” which I presume satisfies the obligation to allege that there was a conspiracy of more than one person. But they’re not required to sue everyone that they think was involved in the conspiracy. Their main beef at this point may be with their former employee, and they may think, in terms of business relationships, that it’s not in their interests to sue their competitors. Or, as Polycarp suggests, they may be hoping to get more and better info on discovery, which might lead them to consider whether they should expand their suit.

All the standard SDMB disclaimers about legal advice apply - I don’t know anything about the rules of pleading that apply, and it’s been a long time since I looked at civil conspiracy, so I could well be mistaken. Maybe Gfactor will wander in and provide a more detailed response.

As for the jury request, wouldn’t the court file indicate which party filed the jury notice?

Others have already got this one:

  1. Yes both civil and criminal conspiracy by definition involve more than one person.

  2. In criminal law, sometimes one or more of the co-conspirators will not be charged, either because they’ve agreed to testify against the other conspirators or because, for whatever reason, the evidence is weak against one of them. Civil joinder rules are complicated and vary from state to state, but it’s common for not all conspirators to be included in a lawsuit. It’s also possible that the plaintiff is not sure which individuals are co-conspirators and has filed the suit with the plan of discovering the names through, er, discovery, and then amending the complaint to add them or filing a separate lawsuit against the others (again, depending on what local law permits).

  3. Either party could have demanded a jury trial in a civil case. Most of the time the plaintiff does it. As **Northern Piper ** indicates, the court records will show who did. Much of the time the plaintiff demands a jury trial in the complaint, and the defendant also does in the answer. This is especially true if the defendant pleads a lot of affirmative defenses or files counter- or cross-claims. In some jurisdictions the plaintiff’s jury demand only covers the issues raised by the complaint.

Thank you, all, for helping. At least that provides direction.

We’re very early in the process. The complain linked above has “A Trial By Jury Is Requested” right on the front page. I’m going to assume that means it’s a request by the plaintiff.

Yup. As I said, the defendant might well also demand a jury.

So it does. :smack:

[Quick, Piper, find the golden lining in this oversight - hmm, hmmm - got it!]

See? That’s why you should be cautious about legal info on the internet. In my jurisdiction, the demand for a jury is a separate form from the initial pleading. I didn’t think to look in the complaint for a jury notice.

[whew! ducked that one!]

::falls on sword::

Ha! Ignorance is bliss!