Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando and Winter Haven, Florida.
Bloodworth Law handles business litigation for clients across all of Florida. Here, we will discuss the types of tortious interference claims recognized in Florida.
What Is Tortious Interference?
What is tortious interference? Tortious interference with a testamentary expectancy is a tort or a wrongful act that causes harm to another person — the harm is economic — gained through deception which allows for compensatory and punitive damages.
In simple terms this means someone expected to receive an inheritance from a trust or estate from a parent, brother or sister, aunt or uncle or whoever it may be.
Tortious interference with a testamentary expectancy means that there is questionable, or detrimental interference with a will.
What Are the Types of Tortious Interference Claims in Florida?
What are the types of tortious interference claims in Florida? There are two causes of action regarding tortious interference:
- Tortious interference with a contractual relationship, and
- Tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship
The elements for these causes of action are similar. If you want to succeed on a cause of action for tortious interference with a contractual relationship, you have to plead and prove:
- The existence of a contract
- The defendant’s knowledge of the contract
- The defendant’s intentional procurement of the contract’s breach
- Damages to the plaintiff as a result of the breach
How to Prove Tortious Interference
Similarly, to succeed on an action for tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship, you must plead and prove:
- The existence of an advantageous business relationship under which the plaintiff has no legal rights
- Knowledge of the relationship by the defendant
- The intentional and unjustified interference with the relationship by the defendant and
- Damage to the plaintiff as a result of the tortious interference by the defendant
These causes of action often overlap. You may plead both of them in one case.
Sometimes we run into these in the context of an employee or an officer or someone higher up in a company leaving to join a competitor.
Tortious Interference in Contractural Relationships
Lots of times you will see these claims in conjunction with lawsuits to enforce non-competes.
An example of tortious interference with a contractual relationship would be as follows: Company A and Company B are competitors, don’t like each other and would go out of their way to really harm the other.
So, Company B goes to a high-ranking employee at Company A and says, “Hey, we really want you to come join our company. We know you have a contract and a non-compete, but we don’t care. We’ll pay you more money. And we really want to stick it to Company A.” The employee leaves Company A and joins Company B. As a result, Company A is financially damaged. That is tortious interference with a contractual relationship.
As part of the cause of action in trying to prove tortious interference with a contractual relationship, proof of some element of intentional harm has to exist because it is an intentional tort. So it cannot just be about open competition.
Intent is something you have to be able to plead and prove for a cause of action for intentional tortious interference with a contractual relationship, or with tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship.
Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you are dealing with a business dispute call him to discuss how Bloodworth Law can help you, your family or your business.Consider sharing this post