While markets encourage competition, competitive behavior between businesses can go too far and cross the line into improper conduct territory. That is when the courts can intervene in lawsuits regarding “tortious interference.”
Tortious interference occurs when one party disrupts another party’s business endeavors with the intent of causing economic harm. There are two types of economic injury for which one person or entity can sue another for damages in a civil law case: tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with a business relationship.
When it comes to contracts, the act occurs when a person who is not a party to a contract says or does something to cause one of the parties to breach the contract or disrupt one of the parties ability to hold up their end of the contract. In regards to business relationships, the circumstances are similar to tortious interference with a contract, except that an actual contract does not exist.
The following are the key elements of a tortious interference claim:
- A valid contract or economic expectancy between the plaintiff—the person forced into violating the terms of a contract or relationship—and other parties to the contract who were bound by its term.
- Knowledge of the contract or expectancy by the defendant, who interfered with the contract or business relationship.
- Intent by the defendant to interfere with the contract or expectancy
- Actual interference, such as inducement, blackmail, or unethical practices.
- The interference is improper.
- The plaintiff suffers damage.
Once tortious inference has been established, the plaintiff is entitled to financial compensation. These damages include monetary loss, punitive damages, and more.