Settling business disputes is common under business law in Minnesota. Business litigation is complex, especially when dealing with lawsuits between businesses. Tortious interference is when two rival businesses move from competitive behavior to tortious conduct. Markets need healthy competition, but courts can step in when tortious interference occurs. Tortious interference is when a company interferes with the relationships or contracts to cause economic harm.
Common forms of tortious interference
A person convincing another to break their contract with someone else is the most common tortious interference. Under business law, someone can offer below-market prices to get someone to break their contract with another person. In the courtroom, negligence isn’t enough; the person must act intentionally. Motivation is the main thing that a court looks at in these cases.
Tortious interference claims in court
The defendant of a tortious interference claim has to have interfered with a contract or relationship with unethical practices, blackmail, force or inducement. There are two types of plaintiffs who can sue a person for interference. The first plaintiff is the one who the defendant got to violate their contract or relationship. The second plaintiff is the person or company that lost economically.
The basic tortious interference claim elements for court are:
- A valid economic or contract expectancy
- The defendant knowing of the expectancy
- The defendant’s intent to interfere
- Improper interference
- Damages to the plaintiff
A person can claim tortious interference if they already had a legal business relationship or contract. Some business contracts are terminable at any time and aren’t usable in tortious interference claims. Someone ending a relationship or contract with a business isn’t always improper.
A person needs to improperly interfere with a contract or business relationship to be tortious interference. The defendant has to know of the business expectancy before interference; they must intend to hurt the business. The motive of the defendant is a concern of the court, but not all intent is tortious interference in business litigation.