A WMC victim could try to use this tort to argue that a defendant’s actions interfering in a contract with a third party caused it to sacrifice a business relationship/economic relationship with another.
1) Existence of a valid contract between the plaintiff and a third party;
2) The defendant’s knowledge of the contract;
3) The defendant’s intentional procurement of the third-party’s breach of the contract without justification;
4) Actual breach of contract; and
5) Damages resulting therefrom.1
1) Nader v. Gen. Motors Corp., 298 N.Y.S.2d 137 (N.Y. App. Div. 1969)
Procedural Posture: On appeal from dismissal of plaintiff’s claims for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference arising from alleged actions of defendant General Motors Corp.
Law: Invasion of privacy; tortious interference with prospective economic advantages; intentional infliction of emotional distress
Facts: Plaintiff, author and lecturer on auto safety, sued GM and others for allegedly shadowing him and harassing him after he published a book regarding car safety. Plaintiff also argued that defendants’ actions caused plaintiff to lose potential income on his book, etc.
Outcome: The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff’s claims. Because the case was not a “publication case,” plaintiff could not maintain a private cause of action against defendants for invasion of privacy.
Special Notes: The court dismissed plaintiff’s cause of action seeking recovery for lost business opportunity because plaintiff did not specifically articulate his lost sales of writings or potential sales lost, and the bill of particulars did not supply the information to remedy the deficiencies.2
2) D’Andrea v. Rafla-Demetrious, 146 F.3d 63 (2d Cir. 1998)
Procedural Posture: Appeal by plaintiff of summary judgment grant to defendants on claim of invasion of privacy arising from parties’ dispute following plaintiff’s medical residency.
Law: Tortious interference with contract
Facts: Plaintiff, a medical resident, asserted that defendants had tortiously interfered with his contract with hospital where the hospital issued him a certificate that did not state that he had “satisfactorily performed” the duties of his position. He claimed that he had another contract with ABR, and that Rafla’s letter about his subpar performance interfered with that contract. However, he subsequently obtained alternative employment, and the hospital was never a party to the contract.
Outcome: The court affirmed summary judgment for the defendants because plaintiff did not show that defendant actually interfered with performance of the plaintiff’s contract. The court rejected D’Andrea’s suggestion that the court adopt Restatement (Second) of Torts § 766A, under which “where the defendant interferes with performance by the plaintiff, the plaintiff need not demonstrate ‘actual breach’ and will adequately state a claim by showing that the defendant made performance by the plaintiff ‘more time-consuming and expensive.’”3
d. Practice Pointers
In New York, tortious interference with contract requires an actual breach of the contract in question.4
- 1. Kirch v. Liberty Media Corp., 449 F.3d 388, 401-02 (2d Cir. 2006).
- 2. Nader v. Gen. Motors Corp., 298 N.Y.S.2d 137, 146 (N.Y. App. Div. 1969).
- 3. D’Andrea v. Rafla-Demetrious, 146 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1998).
- 4. Id. (noting that New York courts require a breach of contract for a tortious interference claim and declining “to hold that the New York courts would recognize an exception to the rule requiring ‘actual breach’ in order to state a claim for tortious interference with contractual relations”).