All businesses rely on contracts with other parties in order to operate smoothly and efficiently, as well as to grow and protect business interests.
From contracts with sellers to employees, other businesses to third parties, contracts are essential to business operations.
While contracts are legally-binding agreements that require all parties named in a contract to act in accordance with the provisions of the contract, sometimes, contracts are breached.
When a breach of contract occurs, a business may maintain the right to bring forth a tortious interference claim against a third party whose actions caused the breach.
If you think that you have a claim for tortious interference, Florida business dispute lawyers at the office at BrewerLong can provide you with aggressive representation and advise you of your rights and options. Call our law firm today to get started.
What Is Tortious Interference?
As defined by the Legal Information Institute of Cornell Law School, tortious interference refers to a type of common law tort that allows a party to bring forth a claim for damages against another that has “wrongfully interfered with the plaintiff’s contractual or business relationships.”
A such, there are actually two types of tortious interference claims: tortious interference with a contract, and tortious interference with a business relationship.
A tortious interference claim is not a criminal act, and a party named in a suit will face no criminal penalties; rather, if the plaintiff’s tortious interference suit is successful, the defendant will have to pay damages to the plaintiff.
Examples of Tortious Interference
When one party (a defendant in a tortious interference case) intentionally interrupts, disrupts, or interferes with the contractual relationship that one party holds with another, a claim for tortious interference may exist. A few examples of tortious interference include:
- A vendor offering unreasonably low prices to a buyer, resulting in the buyer breaching a contract with another business;
- A third-party blackmailing a business or another party; and
- Refusing to perform a duty or obligation (such as the delivery of goods) that impairs the plaintiff’s (business’s) ability to satisfy its own contractual obligation.
The above are just a handful of tortious interference examples; tortious interference occurs any time that a third party interferes with the relationship or contract that exists between two other parties.
What Are the Elements of a Tortious Interference Case?
In order to bring forth a successful tortious interference Florida case, each of the elements of tortious interference must be established. Our lawyers will guide you through each element and be responsible for gathering evidence to satisfy each. These elements include:
- A contractual business relationship or an advantageous business relationship existed between the plaintiff and another party;
- The defendant (third party) knew of the contact or the relationship;
- The defendant acted intentionally to disrupt the relationship or/and induce one party to breach the contract with the other;
- The defendant’s actions were unjustified; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a direct result of the interference.
Further, it is critical that the plaintiff can establish causation – that the breach of contract or disruption of advantageous business relationship would not have occurred but for the intentional and unjustifiable interference of the third party.
Damages Available through a Tortious Interference Claim
Following tortious interference, Florida businesses who have been affected maintain the right to seek damages from the defendant.
These damages will be economic in nature and are intended to compensate the plaintiff for the losses suffered that would not have been incurred but for the defendant’s tortious interference. Damages are calculated based on actual losses, and therefore vary on a case-by-case basis.
Statute of Limitations
If you think that you may have a tortious interference claim, Florida law requires that you bring forth your suit within four years from the date of cause of action. However, it is best to bring forth your claim as soon as possible, as evidence can be destroyed, and facts can be blurred after too much time has passed.
How Can a Business Attorney Help?
If you believe that your business has a tortious interference claim, working with a skilled attorney is absolutely essential.
An attorney can review your case, advise your business of its rights and what steps to take, gather evidence on your behalf, analyze contract language and any breaches of contract, negotiate a settlement, and more. Failing to work with a skilled attorney is an oversight that your business cannot afford.
To schedule a consultation with our Florida business and tortious interference lawyers at the law offices of BrewerLong, please call our legal team directly or send us a message. We have the experience and skill set that your company requires.