citing the Restatement of Torts, § 559, that defamation is defined in terms of the injury, damage to reputation, and not in terms of the manner in which the injury is accomplished. In determining the nature of the claims asserted, the court must look to the essence of the action and not merely to its name. Since plaintiff's present action seeks relief for damages to his reputation and professional standing this action falls within the ambit of tortious injury for defamation which the legislature has set a one year statute of limitations.
To permit the plaintiff to circumvent the applicable statute of limitations for defamation by the simple procedure of alleging a conspiracy to defame would defeat the purpose of the statute of limitations imposed by the legislature. There appears to be no logical distinction between the alleged conspiracy to defame and the alleged defamation itself. Both causes of action injure or damage the reputation of the plaintiff. The same reasoning is germane to our decision to apply the one year statute of limitation to plaintiff's allegation of a conspiracy to injure plaintiff in his business or profession. We will accept for purposes of defendant's motion, that plaintiff alleged a prima facie case of a conspiracy to defame the plaintiff in his business or profession. Plaintiff in Wildee v. McKee, 111 Pa. 335, 2 A. 108  asserted a cause of action in trespass on the case for an alleged conspiracy to injure plaintiff in his profession by impinging plaintiff's integrity and capacity as a teacher. The court held that plaintiff had alleged a valid cause of action.
At common law plaintiff's claim would be categorized as an action of "trespass of the case". 12 P.S. § 32 prescribes a one year statute of limitations for all actions of "trespass on the case for words". Plaintiff's alleged conspiracy falls within this category of actions and would thus be barred by the statute of limitations.
Plaintiff argues that he has set forth a cause of action couched in the terms of a conspiracy to deprive plaintiff of his civil rights. Plaintiff has failed to plead facts which are the bases for any civil action for an invasion of civil rights under the Federal Civil Rights Statutes, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985. The defendants have acted in a private capacity and for private interests and there is no averment that they were cloaked with public authority or acted under color of law. Even if plaintiff has sufficiently alleged a valid cause of action for deprivation of civil rights, we would apply the applicable statute of limitations for the state substantive offense, that is the one year statute of limitations for defamation and the one year statute for conspiracy to defame plaintiff in his trade or profession, and be forced to dismiss the complaint. Judge Marsh, of this Court, in a similar situation applied the analogous state statute of limitations for the offense of an alleged conspiracy to procure plaintiff's conviction and imprisonment, all to plaintiff's humiliation, embarrassment and loss of business and reputation. The Court held that any federal claims arising out of the criminal proceedings, were barred by the one year statute of limitations governing malicious prosecution. Gaito v. Strauss, 249 F. Supp. 923 [W.D.Pa., 1966]. Also in Jones v. Bombeck, 375 F.2d 737 [3rd Cir., 1967], a civil rights case, the Court of Appeals affirmed this District Court's application of the Pennsylvania state statute of limitations pertaining to the substantive offense most closely related to that which the defendants were alleged to have conspired to commit.
In order to decide all of these issues we must of necessity determine when plaintiff's cause of action arose. Plaintiff asserts that they have alleged a continuing cause of action which arose August 3, 1966 when plaintiff was summarily fired and continued, we can assume, to the present date.
In reviewing the decisions of the various states as to when the statute of limitations begins to run on "civil conspiracies" we found them to be in conflict. It has been held, for example, that the statute of limitations begins to run from the last overt act done in pursuance of the conspiracy, from the last overt act causing damage to the plaintiff, from each overt act causing damage, or from the time injury occurs. [See the cases cited in 62 A.L.R.2d 1386]. But the law seems to be settled in Pennsylvania, that the statute of limitations begins to run from each overt act causing damage.
In Helmig v. Rockwell, 389 Pa. 21, 131 A.2d 622 , cert. den. 355 U.S. 832, 78 S. Ct. 46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 44, rehearing den. 355 U.S. 885, 78 S. Ct. 146, 2 L. Ed. 2d 115 the court held that a conspiracy was actionable when it produced an overt act which injures the complaining party, and in Park-in Theatres, Inc. v. Paramount-Richards Theatres, Inc., 90 F. Supp. 727 [D.C.Del., 1950], aff. 185 F.2d 407 (3rd Cir., 1950], cert. den. 341 U.S. 950, 71 S. Ct. 1017, 95 L. Ed. 1373 , the court stated that a civil conspiracy case is "based upon the damage caused by the commission of the overt act and the applicable statute must run from the time of the commission of that act which is alleged to have caused the damage."
This would be from and after August 1, 1967. Any cause of action plaintiff may have had prior to that date is barred by the state statute of limitations. 12 P.S. §§ 31 and 32.
And now this 5th day of June, 1969 it is ordered that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted, except as to all allegations of defamation occurring within one year prior to the filing of the Complaint, i.e., those allegations contained in paragraphs 28 and 38 of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint averring acts of alleged defamation from and after August 1, 1967.
Defendants' Motion to strike portions of Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed as moot.
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