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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: March 8, 2018

Proposed Amended Complaint Fails to Meet High Burden for Interference with Business Relations Claim

On February 8, 2018, Justice Bransten of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Mayer v. Marron, 2018 NY Slip Op. 30229(U), holding that a proposed amended complaint failed to meet the high burden for pleading interference with business relations, explaining:

A tortious interference with business relations claim does not require a breach of an existing contract, but the claimant must meet a more culpable conduct standard. The standard is met where the interference was achieved by wongful means or when the offender acted for the sole purpose of hurting the other party, including physical violence, fraud or misrepresentation and some degrees of economic pressure. The offending party’s conduct must amount to a crime or an independent tort to create liability for interference. However, if the actions are motivated by economic self-interest, they cannot be characterized as solely malicious.

. . .

Assuming the veracity of plaintiffs’ allegations, they only establish that the Proposed Defondants interfered with plaintiffs’ potential business relations with others in an attempt to extract a more favorable economic advantage for themselves, This, however, does not satisfy the unlawful means or solely malicious requirement of a tortious interference of business claim. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ request to add this claim against the Proposed Defendants must be denied.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).

In New York, there are circumstances where a someone can be held liable for causing someone else to break their contract with you (tortious interference with contract), and they can even be held liable for causing someone not to enter into a contract with you in the first place (tortious interference with prospective economic advantage). Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client think someone has interfered with your rights relating to a contract.

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