In the business world, small companies need to face ruthless competition most of the time. Nonetheless, it is impossible to have a free market without ensuring fair play between the different businesses.
It is crucial to ensure that the commercial relationship between different companies can operate freely, without third-party meddling in their trading affairs.
In this article, you will discover how to react in case of a tortious interference business relationship.
Tortious Interference – Understanding the Concept
The legal concept behind the term “tortious interference” refers to a type of common law tort in which a party can bring forth a claim for damages against another that has wrongfully interfered with a plaintiff’s business relationships.
In this sense, a tortious interference claim is not considered a criminal act, so a party named in a suit will not face criminal penalties depending on the court decision. Instead, in case the court decides in favor of a plaintiff’s tortious interference suit, the defendant will have to pay damages.
Typically, the responsible party in a tortious interference claim is a competitor of one of the parties involved in a contractual or business relationship.
Tortious Interference – Explaining in Detail
In layman’s terms, a tortious interference happens when someone actively works to undermine someone else’s efforts in a business relationship, even to the point of stealing opportunities and partnerships.
For instance, let us say that a certain supplier (A) in Florida has agreed to sell 40,000 pen drives to a retailer specialized in electronic products. Thus, the negotiation was fixed at 70 cents per pen drive.
Let us say a competitor of the electronic supplier (A) finds out about the deal and talks to representatives of the retailer, arguing that 70 cents is too high, and they have a brand-new deal offering 45 cents per pen drive.
Then, the retailer reneges on the agreement as a result of the bad influence of competitor claims, which leads to a loss to the (A) supplier. The original supplier, as expected, has a written contract with the retailer and reacts by suiting the competitor for tortious interference.
Another example of tortious interference is when a business or business owner starts to spread lies about a competitor to damage their business activities.
For instance, let us say a restaurant owner starts spreading that a rival restaurant has low hygiene standards. If the claim is false, the restaurant owner is hurting the competitor’s reputation and can face a tortious interference claim.
Different Types of Tortious Interference
There are two types of tortious interference claims in Florida:
- when advantageous business relationships are harmed by a third party’s actions, and
- when contractual relationships are breached.
The existence of a written contract makes the latter easier to prove in court. Commonly, cases involving tortious interference of advantageous business relationships in Florida require proof of past negotiations or business dealings, including prior contracts.
In such cases, the plaintiff must provide solid evidence demonstrating that the advantages expected from the business relationship were realistic.
For instance, a plaintiff could demonstrate and prove the existence of regular business transactions with the third party in the past, which generated an expectation that the business relationship would continue similarly.
What Are the Elements of Tortious Interference?
When it comes to providing proof to ensure the case will be successful in the court, both types of tortious interference claims have similar requirements that need to be met.
It is crucial to determine the relationship between the plaintiff, the defendant, and the third party.
- The existence of a valid contract/business relationship between the plaintiff and the other party.
- The alleged defendant was aware of the existence of a contract/business relationship.
- Even being aware of the contractual/business relationship between the two parties, the defendant deliberately induced one of the parties to end the relationship or did something that harmed the relationship or led to a breach of contract.
Plus, when there is no legal justification for the defendant’s actions and the plaintiff suffered damages as a direct result of the misdeeds of the defendant, there may be a case for tortious interference.
Also, both types of tortious interference require proof that the defendant’s actions were intentional. In this sense, the defendant will try to demonstrate that they were competing in the marketing.
We Can Help You with Tortious Interference Claims in Florida
If you think you have a potential case involving a tortious interference claim, you do not need to waste your time and money unnecessarily. At Jurado & Farshchian, P.L., we have a team of seasoned attorneys to guide you.