42 U.S.C. § 1986 provides that every person who has knowledge that a wrongful act is about to be committed and having the power to prevent the commission of such wrong neglects or refuses so to do, is liable to the party injured for all damages caused by the wrongful act. The defendant in a § 1986 action need not have participated in the conspiracy or the commission of the act. The defendant, however, must have had actual knowledge of the conspiracy. Mere negligence to act on the part of the defendant will be sufficient to attach liability under § 1986.
Any number of persons guilty of wrongful neglect or refusal may be joined as defendants in a § 1986 action. If the death of any party was caused as a result of the wrongful act and neglect, the legal representatives of the deceased can sue to recover an amount not exceeding five thousand dollars in damages for the benefit of the widow or the next of kin of the deceased. However, the action under § 1986 must be initiated within one year after the cause of action accrued. 42 U.S.C. § 1986 specifically sets forth a one-year statute of limitations for actions arising thereunder.