A Brief Introduction to Tortious Interference

Tortious interference is a common law tort that allows a plaintiff to sue a defendant who has wrongfully interfered with his or her contractual or business relationships. The purpose of tortious interference laws are to enable two or more parties to enter into a contract or business relationship and fulfill their respective obligations without third-party interference.

Tortious Interference of Contractual Relationships

Tortious interference with contractual relationships occurs when a someone—the defendant—intentionally causes a contracting party to breach that agreement. The interference does not necessarily have to be with the entire contract; it can be with a single provision, provided that the interference robs the plaintiff of the benefits they are entitled to under the contract.

The key elements of a tortious interference cause of action are:

  1. There was a valid contract between the plaintiff and another party; and
  2. The defendant was aware of the contract’s existence; and
  3. The defendant knowingly took actions that resulted in a disruption or breach of the contract; and
  4. The defendant’s actions were not legally justified; and
  5. Damages resulted from those actions.

Tortious Interference of Business Relationships

Interference of Business Relations is a tort wherein a third party deliberately takes actions that causes one party to violate their business relationship with another. Although relations in business are generally memorialized through contracts, they can also have their foundation in an oral agreement or history of prior business dealings.

Interference of business relations can be challenging to prove. Without a contract it can be hard to determine that an actual business relationship exists.

In order to prove tortious interference with business relationship in Florida, the following elements be satisfied:

  1. A valid business relationship existed between two parties; and
  2. The defendant knew about the relationship; and
  3. The defendant deliberately induced one of the parties to end the business relationship; and
  4. The defendant had no legal justification for interfering in this manner; and
  5. The plaintiff suffered damages.

In Florida, the limitations period for a tortious interference action is four years. The limitations period begins when the last element that constitutes the cause of action takes place. If a plaintiff’s tortious interference claim is successful, awarded damages are calculated to reasonably compensate them for any economic losses they experienced due to the defendant’s actions.

Any party considering an action for tortious interference in Florida should consult with an experienced attorney to review the circumstances behind their claim and determine whether or not enough evidence is present to proceed. Please contact the Trembly Law Firm at (305) 431-5678 today to schedule a consultation and go over your options.