Q: What happens when a party claims it was economically justified to interfere with a contract in New York?
A plaintiff who brings a claim for tortious interference of a contract in New York must prove several elements in order to win his case. These include a demonstration that:
- A valid contract existed;
- The defendant knew about the contract;
- The defendant intentionally and improperly caused the party to the contract to breach the agreement; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
For example, if the defendant’s actions merely included sending advertisements and soliciting business as normally would occur in the industry, this conduct does not constitute true interference. The defendant did not induce the party to the contract to engage in a breach.
Even where these elements are proven, however, the plaintiff still may be unable to succeed in his action if the party accused of interfering with the New York contract presents a viable defense. One such defense is to assert that the defendant was economically justified for the interference.
If the defendant can demonstrate he or she has an interest in the business that is equal to or greater than the contracting party’s interest, this defense may succeed. However, it is important to note that merely being a competitor of the plaintiff is not sufficient to justify the interference.
Tortious interference claims in New York are complex and require the assistance of an experienced legal professional. Fortunately, our office is here to help. To learn more about tortious interference, contact an experienced New York business litigation attorney today. Call our office at (888) 497-3410 for a consultation.