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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: August 30, 2019

Tortious Interference Claim Dismissed on Summary Judgment for Lack of Evidence That Defendant Intended to Cause Breach

On August 22, 2019, the Fourth Department issued a decision in Transpo Bus Servs., LLC v. New York Bus Sales, L.L.C., 2019 NY Slip Op. 06289, holding that a claim for tortious interference with contract was properly dismissed on summary judgment for lack of evidence that the defendant intended to cause the breach, explaining:

Tortious interference with contract requires the existence of a valid contract between the plaintiff and a third party, defendant’s knowledge of that contract, defendant’s intentional procurement of the third-party’s breach of the contract without justification, actual breach of the contract, and damages resulting therefrom. We conclude that defendant established entitlement to judgment as a matter of law by submitting the affidavit of its owner stating that, in forwarding the email, defendant did not intend to induce a breach of the contract but instead intended to minimize any harm to defendant’s reputation and to encourage Brighton to persuade plaintiff to perform its obligations under the contract. In opposition, plaintiff failed to tender evidence raising a material question of fact whether defendant intended, by forwarding the email, to induce breach of the contract.

(Internal quotations and 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 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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