Tortious Interference with Contract

Tortious Interference Contract


Tortious Interference with Contract Claims in Commercial and Business Litigation

Tortious interference is a common law tort that allows a plaintiff to sue a defendant for damages if the defendant wrongfully interferes with the plaintiff’s contractual or business relationships.

Our Florida Business Litigation Lawyers have successfully prosecuted and defended business tort claims in a wide range of Florida Business Dispute lawsuits.

The following elements must be present in tortious interference with contract claim:

  1. the existence of a valid and enforceable contract between the plaintiff and another;
  2. the defendant’s awareness of the contractual relationship;
  3. the defendant’s intentional and unjustified inducement of a breach of the contract;
  4. a subsequent breach by the other caused by the defendant’s wrongful conduct; and
  5. damages.

Exercising constitutional free speech rights to legitimately and in good faith express a negative opinion does not meet the Tortious Interference standard.

To win a claim for tortious interference with contract, wrongful or illegal conduct, such as defaming a product or a seller’s services with false-negative characteristics, must be demonstrated.

Tortious interference claims can arise from unfounded litigation, the use of criminal extortion or violence, bribery or fraud, and deceit, or conduct that violates antitrust laws to cause a breach of contract. The conduct must be unfair competitive behavior.

Conduct consistent with aggressive competition, on the other hand, such as discontinuing a product or terminating a contractual relationship where such termination or discontinuance is not accompanied by wrongful or illegal conduct designed specifically to cause financial harm to the plaintiff, is not actionable. In a free-market economy, this is expected behavior.

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Tortious interference claims are subject to a slew of privilege defenses. Interference can be privileged when the defendant is motivated to protect a substantial interest based on an objectively reasonable and good faith belief that the performance of the contract will harm the defendant’s interest and the defendant does not use improper, deceptive, or other unjust means to interfere.
A qualified privilege also prevents corporate officers and directors from being sued for tortious interference.

According to Florida courts, corporate officers and directors have a legal right to use their business judgment and discretion on behalf of their corporations. Corporate officers and directors have a greater duty to their corporations’ shareholders than parties contracting with the corporation. Because officers and directors have fiduciary duties to the corporation and its shareholders, their freedom to act for the corporation’s benefit should not be limited by excessive fear of liability. Directors and officers must be free to act in what they believe to be in the best interests of their corporation.

To overcome a corporate officer’s qualified privilege, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the corporate officer’s action was made without justification or with actual malice.

According to Florida courts, when a defendant’s conduct in an interference with contract action is privileged, it is the plaintiff’s burden to plead and prove that the defendant’s conduct was unjustified or malicious. To overcome the privilege, plaintiffs must allege or prove that a defendant acted in its own interests and against the interests of its principal or engaged in conduct that was completely unrelated or antagonistic to the interest giving rise to the privilege.

“Actual malice” is a positive desire or intent to injure another. In the context of tortious interference with a contractual relationship charge, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the desire to harm was unrelated to the corporation’s interests. Allegations of actual malice that are unsupported by facts are insufficient to overturn privilege or unjustified conduct protections.

An attorney who advises a client not to perform on a contract has complete immunity from being sued for tortious interference, even if the advice is incorrect. Advice is given to a client that the client is not required to perform the alleged contractual obligation, even if the advice is incorrect and exposes the client to liability.

Marcadis Singer PA’s Florida Business Litigation Attorneys have extensive experience litigating business tort claims for unfair competition, trade libel, tortious interference with contract, and tortious interference with prospective business relations. We have defended and prosecuted such claims on behalf of our corporate clients and officers, and directors.

For a free consultation, please contact one of our Florida Business Dispute Attorneys at 888-288-1881 or 813-547-1881. You can also reach out to us online.

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