In Louisiana, a conspiracy is a combination of two or more persons to do something unlawful, either as a means or as an ultimate end. Once a conspiracy has been established, an act done by one in the furtherance of the unlawful act is, by law, the act of all others involved in the conspiracy.
If proven, a conspiracy can allow for solidary liability among all of the co-conspirators for the damage caused. Solidary liability means that each responsible party is independently liable for the entire obligation, responsibility, or debt to the party who was harmed by any one of them. Everett Curole’ lawsuit after an assault and battery at his home, shows the power of the legal system to hold parties accountable for their nefarious acts.
In the early morning of December 31, 2002, Bonnie Delcambre, Quinn Delcambre, Glenn Gadrow, Tricia Menard, Rory Delcambre, Lori Toups, and Rayford Champagne arrived at the at the home of Everett and Charlene Curole. Bonnie kicked in the front door and everyone else followed her into the home. Bonnie woke Mrs. Carole to confront her and Rory, Quinn, and Glenn severely beat Mr. Carole. During the beating, the others punched holes in the walls. The assailants then fled the scene,, and Mrs. Curole called 911.
Deputies from the Vermilion Parish Sherriff’s Office arrived at the Curole residence at 4:12 am. Mr. Curole went by ambulance to the Abbeville General Hospital. He sustained a broken nose, broken/cracked ribs, and lacerations to his face, head, and kidney. After leaving the Curole home, the assailants all (except Quinn) went to have breakfast together. Afterward, they were confronted by the police.
Criminal Charges were filed against Bonnie Delcambre, Quinn Delcambre, and Glenn Gadrow,, and civil lawsuits were brought against Rory Delcambre, Bonnie Delcambre, Tricia Menard, Quinn Delcambre, and Glenn Gadrow. Mr. Curole, alleged that the fault, negligence, actions, and omissions of duty of the defendants, Rory Delcambre, Bonnie Delcambre, Tricia Menard, Quinn Delcambre, Lori Toups, Rayford Champagne and Glenn Gadrow, produced, as a cause in fact, physical injuries he sustained.
During the civil process the question arose whether or not a conspiracy occurred between the defendants involved to harm Mr. Curole. The trial court found that no conspiracy had taken place and that since the Curoles did not initially plead conspiracy particularly, testimonies related to the conspiracy were suppressed. However, the Curole’s appealed this. The Curoles claimed that the Trial Court committed an error by ruling that the plaintiffs were required to plead conspiracy and by disallowing testimony related to the conspiracy from the trial.
The Rule under the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure is that pleadings are based solely on facts. The Appeals Court reasoned, Curoles’ pleadings sufficiently complied with the pleading requirements of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure as they do not require pleadings to point specifically at conspiracy. According to the Louisiana Supreme Court in Greemon v. City of Bossier City, Curoles were only required to put forth the material facts upon which the cause of action was based. Further, Ross v. Conoco, states a conspiracy does not need to be explicitly pled, a plaintiff must just allege it in some way within the pleadings.
If a conspiracy had taken place, the facts would allude to it. For collusion to occur, Louisiana Civil Code Article 2324(A) has requirements that must be met. This includes a meeting of the minds or the collusion between persons for the purpose of committing a crime. Based on the facts, the group was together when Bonnie Delcambre became enraged with the Curoles and decided to go to their home to confront them. Knowing Bonnie’s anger towards the situation, they all followed her. Evidence of a conspiracy can be overt actions or implied from the knowledge of the alleged co-conspirator of the criminal actions taken by the other co-conspirator. If a conspiracy is conceived and executed and an injury results, the person injured has a cause of action against all of the conspirators.
The Court of Appeals found that a conspiracy may be proved through the evidence. The Trial Court also made an error in finding that defendants were not conspirators and that they did not all intend to cause harm to the Curoles. The Appeals Court held that common sense could establish that breaking into someone’s house in the middle of the night to confront them would not be a friendly conversation.
The evidence showed that the defendants left one bar and traveled together in vehicles in search of the Curoles; they went to several bars before proceeding to the Curole residence. Upon arrival, they all participated in furtherance of the conspiracy by breaking into the home and being present during the assault and battery of Mr. Curole. The Court of Appeals reasoned this evidence was sufficient. It was clear to the Court, each of the defendants participated in the furtherance of the conspiracy to find Charlene Curole and break into the Curoles’ home for the obvious purpose of confronting Charlene and causing havoc. Therefore regardless of whether not the word “conspiracy” was written in the Curole’s lawsuit one had occurred.
A good lawyer helps the plaintiffs bring forward a pleading that follows the Louisiana code and protect their rights when pleading rules may impact their day in court. The Curoles ultimately got the ruling they needed to proceed with their conspiracy claims that could ultimately help their case.
Other Sources: EVERETT CUROLE, JR., ET AL. VERSUS RORY DELCAMBRE, ET AL.
Written by: Margaret Cotter
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