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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts by Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP
Posted: July 7, 2020

Tortious Interference with Prospective Business Relations Claim Fails for Lack of Evidence of Wrongful Means or Malice

On July 1, 2020, the Second Department issued a decision in Astro Kings, LLC v. Scannapieco, 2020 NY Slip Op. 03637, holding that the plaintiff’s tortious interference with prospective business relations claim failed for lack of evidence of wrongful means or malice, explaining:

[W]e agree with the Supreme Court’s determination that the Silvio defendants were entitled to summary judgment dismissing the cause of action to recover damages for tortious interference with prospective business relations asserted against them. To succeed on this cause of action, a plaintiff must demonstrate, inter alia, that the defendant’s interference was accomplished by “wrongful means” or that the defendant acted for the sole purpose of harming the plaintiff. Wrongful means include physical violence, fraud or misrepresentation, civil suits and criminal prosecutions, and some degrees of economic pressure. Here, the Silvio defendants established, prima facie, that to the extent that any of their conduct may have interfered with the plaintiff’s prospective business relations, there were no wrongful means employed by them, nor did they act for the sole purpose of harming the plaintiff. In opposition, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact.

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

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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