Tortious interference is a legal concept that refers to a situation where one party intentionally and unjustifiably interferes with another party’s contractual or business relationships, causing economic harm. Tortious interference is a common legal issue in Florida, and our state has specific laws and legal precedents that govern this type of behavior. In this article, we will provide an overview of tortious interference in Florida, including its legal definition, elements, and potential remedies.
Legal Definition of Tortious Interference in Florida:
Under Florida law, tortious interference is defined as “intentional and unjustifiable interference with the performance of a contract by a third party, where the interference causes economic harm to the party seeking to perform under the contract.” The key elements of this definition are:
- Intentional interference: The interfering party must have acted with the intention of causing harm or disrupting the contractual relationship.
- Unjustifiable interference: The interference must not be legally justified or protected by law.
- Contractual relationship: The interference must have occurred in the context of an existing contractual or business relationship between two or more parties.
- Economic harm: The interference must have caused economic harm, such as loss of profits, business opportunities, or contractual benefits.
Examples of Tortious Interference in Florida:
Tortious interference can take many forms, and it can occur in various contexts, such as employment, real estate, intellectual property, and commercial transactions. Some examples of tortious interference in Florida include:
- A former employee of a company starts a competing business and solicits the company’s clients and employees in violation of a non-compete agreement.
- A landlord falsely tells a tenant’s customers that the tenant has gone out of business, causing a loss of business and profits for the tenant.
- A company intentionally spreads false information about a competitor’s product, causing customers to switch to the company’s product and resulting in economic harm for the competitor.
Proving Tortious Interference in Florida:
To establish a claim for tortious interference in Florida, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The existence of a valid contractual or business relationship between the plaintiff and a third party.
- The defendant’s knowledge of the relationship.
- The defendant’s intentional and unjustifiable interference with the relationship.
- The resulting breach or termination of the relationship.
- The plaintiff’s resulting economic harm.
Remedies for Tortious Interference in Florida:
If a plaintiff successfully proves a claim for tortious interference in Florida, they may be entitled to various remedies, including:
- Monetary damages: The plaintiff may recover damages for the economic harm caused by the interference, such as lost profits, business opportunities, and contractual benefits.
- Injunctive relief: The plaintiff may seek a court order to stop the defendant from further interfering with the contractual or business relationship.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages to punish the defendant for their intentional and unjustifiable conduct.
- Attorneys’ fees and costs: The plaintiff may recover their attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in bringing the claim.
Tortious interference is a serious legal issue that can have significant economic consequences for the parties involved. If you believe that you have been a victim of tortious interference in Florida, it is essential to seek the advice of an experienced business law attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. The attorneys at Woodward, Kelley, Fulton & Kaplan may be able to assist you in proving your case and recovering the damages and remedies to which you may be entitled.
As always, if you have any questions about buying or selling a business, or business law generally, please don’t hesitate to contact us!