COMMENT: Agreements within Government Entities and Conspiracies under section 1985(3)--A New Exception to the Intracorporate Conspiracy Doctrine? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1996 University of Chicago
University of Chicago Law Review

COMMENT: Agreements within Government Entities and Conspiracies under section 1985(3)--A New Exception to the Intracorporate Conspiracy Doctrine?

Summer, 1996

63 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1139

Author

Geoff Lundeen Carter *

Excerpt



One of the primary purposes of conspiracy law is to punish conspirators for the enhanced danger they pose to society when they agree to combine resources and act unlawfully. The goals of conspiracy law conflict, however, with the common law tradition of regarding corporations as single, unitary actors. Courts resolve this conflict in some areas of law by applying the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine. Under this doctrine, the actions of two employees of a single corporation cannot constitute a legal "con- spiracy," so long as the employees are acting within the scope of their employment. 1

The intracorporate conspiracy doctrine is controversial because it limits society's ability to respond to the enhanced danger posed by individuals who form agreements to act unlaw- fully. For example, in antitrust law, the doctrine renders virtual- ly all intracorporate discussions nonconspiratorial as a matter of law. Thus, section 1 of the Sherman Act 2 cannot reach agreements between employees of a single corporation, even if those agree- ments constitute unreasonable restraints of trade. By contrast, courts do not apply the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine in criminal conspiracy cases, in part because criminal conspiracies pose threats too significant to allow the corporate structure to shield the employees from criminal liability. 3

The federal courts disagree about whether the intracorporate conspiracy doctrine should apply to civil rights conspiracy claims brought under section 1985(3) of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. 4 A majority of the federal courts, relying on antitrust precedents, has held that ...
 
 
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