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Commercial Division Blog

Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: July 28, 2020

Tortious Interference Claim Fails for Lack of Allegations of Malice or Illegal Means

On July 22, 2020, the Second Department issued a decision in 684 E. 222nd Realty Co., LLC v. Sheehan, 2020 NY Slip Op. 04136, affirming the dismissal of a tortious interference claim for lack of allegations of malice or illegal means, explaining:

To prevail on a cause of action to recover damages for tortious interference with business relations, a plaintiff must prove that it had a business relationship with a third party, that the defendant knew of that relationship and intentionally interfered with it, that the defendant’s actions were motivated solely by malice or otherwise constituted illegal means, and that the defendant’s interference caused injury to the plaintiff’s relationship with the third party. Here, the complaint fails to sufficiently allege that the defendant’s actions were motivated solely by malice or otherwise constituted illegal means. Accordingly, we disagree with the Supreme Court’s determination denying that branch of the defendant’s motion which was pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the cause of action alleging tortious interference with business relations.

(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 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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