Interference with Contractual Relations
A claim for tortious interference with
economic relations is comprised of two different types of claims. In one type of claim, the plaintiff brings an
action for the defendant’s intentional and improper inducement of a breach of
an existing contract. In a different
type of claim, the plaintiff sues for the intentional and improper interference
with economic relationship in absence of a breach of contract or for interference
with business expectations.
elements that a plaintiff must plead and prove under the first type of claim
are as follows:
1. A contract existed
2. That the defendant knew about the
3. That the defendant intentionally and
improperly conducted himself in a way that caused a third party to breach that
contract or made it impossible for the third party to perform under the
4. That the third party breached the
contract or was unable to perform; and
5. That as a result, the plaintiff suffered
a person who is not a party to the agreement can be liable for interference
with a contract. Where the offending
party is a party to the contract, the plaintiff must look to some other means
to recover. The Court of Appeals has not
allowed a party to transfer a breach of contract claim into an intentional
conduct giving rise to the tort need not be extreme, but it does need to be
purposeful. If the conduct persuades
another to breach or fail to perform, there must be liability. The courts will consider a number of factors
to determine whether the defendant’s conduct is intentionally interfering with
a contract. These factors include the
nature of the actor’s conduct, the actor’s motive, the interests of the other
with which the actor’s conduct interferes, the inters sought to be advanced by
the actor, the social interests in protecting the freedom of action of the
actor and the contractual interests of the other, the proximity or remoteness
of the actor’s conduct to the interference; and the relation between the
interference with contract may be in the form of violence or intimidation,
deflation, crimes, threats of groundless civil lawsuits or criminal
prosecutions in bad faith. It is
important to distinguish between the actor’s motives. A person can act knowingly and willfully, but
if the person has a legitimate motive other than interfering with another’s
contract, that person’s actions may not give rise to a tort claim.
interference with contract cannot be used to chill legitimate business
competition. For example a competitor
who pursues an employee of another’s business who is employed at-will, does not
improperly interfere with the existing employment contract, unless the competitor
uses improper means.
this tort, the court can award compensatory damages. Damages are measured according to what would
reasonably flow from the tortious act.
These may include the loss of benefits under the contract, plus
consequential damages, emotional distress and damages for harm to one’s
plaintiff may also recover punitive damages for tortious interference where the
plaintiff can show that the defendant’s conduct was motivated by actual malice,
i.e., evil motive, intent to injure, ill will or fraud.
a claim for Tortious interference with Contract will overlap with other claims,
such as defamation or tortious interference with economic relations.
information contained on this page is provided as general information and does
not constitute legal advice. The
experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you
have, or believe you may have, a claim for Tortious Interference with Contract. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review
your situation and provide appropriate advice.
Call today for a no-obligation consultation. There is no consultation fee for cases
involving personal injury.
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