What Is Tortious Interference?
Tortious Interference essentially is a legal term used when someone wrongfully interferes with a business. Usually, Tortious Interference involves breaking a contract. Here’s more.
Contracts and Business
A contract is a written or verbal set of expectations between two or more parties. If you are a furniture manufacturer, and you have a contract with a department store, you are agreeing to provide furniture at a set price to that store. If you cannot provide the volume of furniture outlined in the contract then you have broken the contract, and you might be liable for damages caused by that failure.
In a more critical nature, if the items supplied require that the partner company replace the lost volume with something else you might be held liable for the difference in cost between what you were to supply and the cost of replacing what you did not supply. An example might be a staffing contract between a nursing registry and a hospital.
Personnel can also have contracts – employment contracts. There are many points where an employment contract can fail. It might be that the bonuses promised are not paid. It could also be that production or goals are not met. Or, it could be more sinister, such as an employee who steals from their employer – physical items or information.
Wrongful Interference with a Business
Sometimes in business, there is outside interference. Tortious Interference occurs when an outside influence causes one party or the other to breach the contract.
That can occur on several levels, such as:
- A competitor buys information from a company’s leadership team.
- A competing company offers to pay more for raw materials to prevent the supplier from delivering materials to its contractual relationships.
- A competitor spreads rumors about a company so that potential partners will not contract with that company.
Damages in Wrongful Interference with a Business
In order to seek damages from tortious interference the party seeking damages must prove that there was:
- A contract in place or there would have been a contract in place
- There was knowledge of the contract by the outside party
- There was intentional action against the wronged business by the third party
- The wronged business experienced loss or suffering due to the actions of the third party.
If the wronged business can prove these four points, they may be entitled to compensation under Oklahoma law. These cases are not always cut-and-dry and some have complex natures that are far-reaching. Outside interference may not be about the initial two companies. It may be that the design is to harm a secondary company so that it cannot support the primary target. For example, a company contracts with a builder to make widgets and the builder then contracts with a larger company to supply tools. A disruption in that chain can cause far-reaching consequences for many companies.
Reach Out To Brown & Gould If You Have Questions Regarding Tortious Interference
If you are a business leader with concerns over a failed contract, seek a business law attorney with experience in understanding the complexities of tortious interference. The Brown and Gould Law Firm represents businesses throughout the state of Oklahoma. Contact us today for an initial consultation.