Dinn, Hochman & Potter, LLC

Tortious interference with business relationships: what is it?

In the individual context, a tort occurs when one person cause harm to another that is the result of a breach of ordinary or reasonable care owed to that other person. Being artificial persons, businesses can be liable for torts as well: either for wrongs done against individuals, or for wrongs committed toward another business, known appropriately as business torts.

Most of the time business torts are the result of one business taking free market competition too far. Unfair competition is one species of business tort; so is wrongful interference, which can be defined as one business deliberately attempting to harm the contractual relationship of another business, or to try to supplant that contractual connection. Wrongful interference is more than simply competing with another company for the same contract, which is legitimate. It frequently consists of a business attempting to sabotage the contractual relations of a competitor.

Just as with individual torts, a business tort like wrongful interference requires the plaintiff to prove it more likely than not that the defendant committed multiple sub-elements. These include:

  • the existence of a valid contract with a third-party, or at least the existence of a recognizable economic expectancy;
  • the awareness on the part of the defendant of this contract or economic expectancy;
  • the intention to improperly interfered with the contract or expectancy;, and
  • damages to the plaintiff’s business, measurable by money damages.

Proving these sub-elements can be a complex undertaking, which will often require extensive pre-trial preparation in the form of legal discovery. The selection of an Ohio law firm that has experience and expertise in business dispute resolution, including business litigation, is an important early step for any business to take when it believes that its commercial interests have been wrongfully interfered with by another company.

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