Story problem for legal types

“Joe” works at the ACME company making widgets and pushing papers. One day there is an industrial accident and “Joe” is in the vicinity. Initially it looks like Joe was seriously hurt and is put on workers compensation. He doesn’t have to work and is paid not to.

The powers that be think Joe is full of shit and hire a private investigator to do surveillance on Joe. For those of you not in the know, this is incredibly common in the insurance business.

Nick Slick Private Dick does a weeks worth of surveillance on Joe and gets video tape of him running/walking, playing sports (softball, bowling, golf, etc.) and roofing his house. This is on top of regular activities like shopping, carrying groceries (huge bags of dog food and water softener salt, etc. into the house).

Joe is full of shit and Nick Slick has tons of video taped evidence to prove it.

But Nick Slick gets paid by the insurance company whether Joe did any activity during the surveillance time or not. What does Nick care?

So tonight Nick calls Joe anonymously and says “listen dumb fuck. You’re under surveillance. Tomorrow come out of your house like your the bastard child of Larry Flint and Jim Brady and I’ll show the insurance company the video I get of it and destroy the past video!”

For this Nick wants a significant chunk of money. Joe agrees to pay.
What is Nick Slick guilty of? Conspiracy? Insurance fraud? Nothing?

What is Joe guilty of? Conspiracy? Insurance fraud? Nothing?

I’m not a lawyer, but:

Conspiracy. Insurance Fraud, And blackmail.

Conspiracy. Insurance Fraud.

And they’re both guilty of being disgusting human beings.

Never mind; missed a couple of words in the first reply. Carry on. :slight_smile:

Criminal: The local jurisdictions equivalent of fraud, probably perjury or lying under oath for Joe and Fraud and Criminal breach of trust for Nick (presuming he goes through with it).

Civil: Fraudulent Misrepresentation, negligent misstatement and failure to provide material facts for Joe and breach of contract and Trust for Nick.

Of course it’s criminal.

But lets change this a bit:

Nick is pissed at the client for past business dealings. So even though he nailed Joe not being injured he goes back and tells the client he never saw Joe, he never came out of his house during surveillance. Nick does not conspire with Joe in doing this, Joe is still unaware he’s being watched. Nick is not under oath when he tells the client this.

Somehow in the future the client learns that Nick had a bunch of video tape of Joe that would have altered the huge settlement they gave him.

Civilly they could sue Nick. But what about criminal charges? Even though Nick did not conspire with Joe in this scenario, he did enable him to get a large payment from the insurance company when he in fact was not hurt a bit. Does this make Nick guilty of some form of fraud, even though he himself did not profit from it? Are there any places where it is possible to have a silent partner in a conspiracy?

Conspiracy requires some type of agreement between the parties. It doesn’t necessarily need an express agreement; it could be one of those head-nodding, implicit sort of agreements. If Nick is acting alone, and Joe is unaware of what Nick is doing, then there’s no agreement between them, and no conspiracy.

As for the fraud, if Nick hasn’t personally benefited, I’m not sure he’d be guilty of any crime, but for all I know there might be some insurance or worker’s comp statute out there somewhere that covers it.