State Litigation: Intentional Interference with an Advantageous Business Relationship

Boca Raton, Florida Commercial Litigation Lawyer, Russell L. Forkey, Esq. - Intentional Interference with an Advantageous Business Relationship

There are a number of claims that exist under common law. We have already discussed some of them in other parts of this section of the website such as negligence and breach of contract. The common law claim that will be discussed below is that of intentional interference with an advantageous business relationship. Please keep in mind, as you read this post, that it is generic in nature and is not designed to be complete in all material aspects. It is simply being provided for educational purposes only, Thus, it should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have any questions relative to this post, you should contact qualified legal counsel.

The essential elements to seek damages for interference with a contract or business relationship can be generally identified as:

  • The existence of a contract or valid business relationship,
  • The wrongdoer's knowledge thereof,
  • His or hers intentional procurement of its breach,
  • The absence of justification, and
  • damages resulting therefrom

Existence of a Valid Business Relationship or Expectancy:

A legally recognizable business expectancy may include the opportunity of obtaining customers, that is commercially reasonable to anticipate. 

The elements of intentional interference with a prospective business advantage mirror those of interference with a contract, however, to prevail a plaintiff need not demonstrate the existence of a contract, but merely a prospective advantageous business transaction.

The Interferer's Knowledge of the Relationship or Expectancy:

An interferer's knowledge of a plaintiff's relationship or expectancy may be shown by the interferer's conduct or spiteful or threatening words.  For example, a Florida state appellate court held that the plaintiffs satisfied this knowledge issue where their complaint alleged that the defendants knew of the plaintiffs' business expectancy of selling four luxury condominium units at an auction but nonetheless proceeded to post a "for sale" sign on unites the defendants owned in the same building on the day of the plaintiffs' auction, even though the defendants did not truly intend to sell those units, and in fact removed the signs immediately after the conclusion of the auction.

I ntentional Interference by Inducing or Causing a Termination of the Expectancy:

Elements of intentional interference includes conduct that prevents the plaintiff from acquiring the prospective relationship in addition to conduct that induces or otherwise causes a third person not to enter into a prospective relationship.

Damages:

The damages associated with a finding of liability for intentional interference are those that are directly or proximately caused by the actions of the defendants.

As should be clear from the above discussion, retaining qualified legal counsel will enhance your chance of success in bring a claim for intentional interference with an advantageous business relationship.