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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: January 23, 2021

Tortious Interference Claim Cannot be Based on Agreement to At-Will Employment

On January 7, 2021, Justice Borrok of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in BDO USA, LLP v. Stiles, 2021 NY Slip Op. 30064(U), holding that a tortious interference claim cannot be based on an agreement to at-will employment, explaining:

To establish a claim of tortious interference with contract, the plaintiff must demonstrate (1) the existence of its valid contract with a third party, (2) defendant’s knowledge of that contract, (3) defendant’s intentional and improper procuring of a breach, and (4) damages. Interference with an “employee-at-will” agreement, such as the manager agreements attached as exhibits to the Amended Complaint cannot ground a claim for tortious interference with contract. Thus, and inasmuch as the other employees were employees at will, the third cause of action for tortious interference with contract must be dismissed.

(Internal citations omitted).

In New York, there are circumstances where 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 business relations). 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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