Dennis v. Sparks

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In Dennis v. Sparks, 449 U.S. 24 (1980), the United States Supreme Court allowed application of Section 1983 against private parties who act in concert with a state official. Specifically, the Court applied Section 1983 where the plaintiff alleged that private parties bribed a judge in order to obtain. The Court found that this could constitute state action under Section 1983.

Lower courts have applied to ruling to uphold Section 1983 against other private parties:

  • Moore v. Marketplace Rest., Inc., 754 F.2d 1336, 1352 (7th Cir. 1985) ("In order to establish a conspiracy, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the state officials and the private party somehow reached an understanding to deny the plaintiffs their constitutional rights.")
  • Fonda v. Gray, 707 F.2d 435, 438 (9th Cir. 1983) ("To prove a conspir-acy between private parties and the government under ยง 1983, an agreement or 'meeting of the minds' to violate constitutional rights must be shown.")
  • Wahi v. Charleston Area Medical Ctr., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21726 (S.D.W.V. Oct. 27, 2004) (In this case, the complaint alleges that the defendants 'met and conferred' with the Board's prosecutor concerning Dr. Wahi, 'encouraged' the Board to pursue charges against him, and 'collaborated' and 'acted in concert' with the Board during the Board's investigation of Dr. Wahi. These allegations, taken as true, adequately state a conspiracy claim under section 1983.")
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