Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

When does one have a tortious interference claim?

Businesses in Florida generally enter into contracts in order obtain some benefit for their companies. There are a variety of types of contracts that they enter into, in which one business provides goods or services to another for compensation. These contracts can be very lucrative, but since many businesses offer similar goods or services, there can be competition among them to secure contracts and the compensation that comes with these contracts.

Generally, this is honest competition, but there are times when a business may purposely interfere with an existing contract in order to gain something for themselves. If a business engages in this type of behavior, they could be guilty of tortious interference. This occurs when one company knows of an existing contract, intends to interfere with that contract, there was in fact interference and the interference was improper. Finally the interference must harm the other party financially.

In these cases, the plaintiff is generally the party to the contract that suffers harm and the defendant is the company that interfered. Some of the elements mentioned above can be easier than others to prove. For instance proving that the defendant knew about the contract is not always straightforward. Sometimes there may be only circumstantial evidence available. Another is demonstrating intent. This is because there are many valid business actions that may interfere with a contract but are not done with the intention of interfering with an existing contract.

When companies enter into contracts in Florida, they are creating legal obligations that they must follow. After the contract is executed, both parties then act according to the terms of the agreement and expect the other party to do the same. However, other companies may try to induce one party to the contract to breach for a variety of reasons. This is illegal, though, if the interfering company knew about the contract and intended to interfere. These are very fact specific cases, so experienced attorneys may be a useful resource.

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