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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: March 3, 2019

Tortious Interference Based on Defamation Must be Pleaded With Particularity

On February 13, 2019, Justice Borrok of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision inĀ Wikked Entertainment, Inc. v. Burbacki, 2019 NY Slip Op. 30329(U), holding that a claim for tortious interference based on defamation must be pleaded with particularity, explaining:

The motion to dismiss the second cause of action (tortious interference) is granted without prejudice. Tortious interference requires (1) a business relationship with a 3rd party, (2) the defendant knew of the relationship with intentional interference, (3) the defendant acted out of malice or used improper means that amount to a crime or an independent tort and (4) the defendant caused injury.

Where tortious interference is based on a defamatory statement, pleading in accordance with CPLR 3016 is required. To wit, it is necessary to allege the time, place and manner of the false statement and to whom it was made. The complaint contains mere general allegations, and most significantly, does not properly identify the business relationship or otherwise allege to whom it was made.

(Internal citations omitted).

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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