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Why is this person interfering with my business agreements? For spite!


Business owners often wonder what exactly constitutes “fair” competition by their competitors and what behavior gives rise to a cause of action. These next few posts will address the three business torts under North Carolina law, and what you have to prove to get them. The first type of business tort is called tortious interference with contract. This is where a business owner has a contract with a second party and a third party –without justification – intentionally induces that second party not to perform under the contract. And as with the famous Seinfeld episode, the justification of “for spite” is not going to be successful.
So to win on a claim for tortious interference with contract, the Plaintiff A must establish that 1) there was a valid contract between A and B; 2) that party C knows of that contract; 3) that party C intentionally induces Party B not to perform the contract; 4) and in doing so acts without justification; 5) resulting in damage to Party A
A key point here is the “without justification” language. In North Carolina, the action must indication no motivation for the interference other than malice. For example, Company C can encourage the termination of the contract if that encouragement is reasonably related to a legitimate business interest. So if Company C wants Company B’s business, that’s okay. If Company C just despises the president of Company A, then we’re looking at a potential claim.
There are three types of business torts in North Carolina and all confer the possibility of punitive damages. Next up… tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.
If a contract entered into by your business has been interfered with by another individual or a business, contact Maginnis Law, PLLC to assess your claim. Maginnis Law, PLLC is a Raleigh litigation law firm that services Cary, Holly Springs, Morrisville, and Wake Forest. Contact Ed Maginnis at 919-526-0450 to set up an appointment to discuss the legal needs of your business.

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