If one party (defendant) intentionally interferes with another’s
(plaintiff’s) contractual relations with a third party, the defendant
can be liable for damages in a tort action. This is referred to as “tortious
interference” in business law.
In simple terms, a tortious interference claim for damages can be filed
by a plaintiff against a defendant who decides to wrongfully interfere
with the plaintiff’s business or contractual relationship with another
individual or company.
For a plaintiff to prevail in a tortious interference claim, he or she
would need to prove the following elements of the claim:
A valid contract existed between the plaintiff and a third party
The defendant was aware of the contract between the plaintiff and third party
The defendant’s actions were both intentional and improper
The defendant’s actions directly caused injury to the plaintiff
The plaintiff must have suffered damages
In our experience, tortious interference claims frequently combat wrongful
competition or immoral conduct by a former employee. For example, an employee
could improperly use a confidential, proprietary data set belonging to
a former employer to win the business of a former client of that employer.
When a defendant wrongfully interferes with another’s business relationship
or economic opportunity, he or she can be held liable for damages.
If you are considering filing a tortious interference claim, please understand
that these claims are highly-factual, rely heavily on the evidence,and
it will be necessary prove the aforementioned elements of the claim to
prevail in court.
Three Most Common Tortious Interference Claims
The courts generally recognize three members of the “tortious interference
family,” including: 1) tortious interference with an existing contract,
2) tortious interference with business relations, and 3) tortious interference
with an economic advantage.
If there is no valid contract between the plaintiff and a third party,
it can be more difficult to establish the business relationship; however,
that does not mean it is impossible.
Some jurisdictions, such as Illinois, are willing to recognize that a defendant
interfered with the plaintiff’s “economic advantage”
when it can be proven in court.
To establish a claim in the absence of a contract, the plaintiff must show
they had “reasonable expectation” of economic advantage, and
the defendant knew about it.
The plaintiff would also have to prove the realistic probability that he
or she would have received the economic benefit, if it were not for the
To learn more about tortious interference in Illinois or Wisconsin,
business litigation firm today!