Tortious Interference in Business Relationships
If you experience tortious interference in your business relationships, schedule a free consultation with our Houston civil litigation attorneys. Our team is ready to help you protect your rights and reputation with aggressive representation.
As a business owner, you enter formal and informal agreements to benefit your company. Typically, you don’t expect an outside party to interfere with your business relationships. Many businesses depend on their relationships with contractors, vendors, and even lenders to run smoothly.
When a third party interferes with one of these contracts or relationships, it often results in devastation to your business’s bottom line. For instance, someone might convince a shared supplier to renege on your contract. Alternatively, they might interrupt the sale of a property you hope to acquire.
When third parties unfairly interfere with a business relationship or a contract, you have legal options in the form of tortious interference.
Tortious Interference in Texas
Currently, there are no criminal laws in place to punish your competitors when they harm you through interference in your contracts and professional relationships. Typically, the remedy for this situation occurs in state laws regarding contracts and tort.
Contract law applies particularly to claims between parties when they have pre-existing agreements. On the other hand, tortious interference claims apply to acts of a business or an individual with which you don’t have an agreement.
The focus of this claim is to remedy the wrongful conduct of a party not involved in an existing contract or business relationship.
Business Relationship Subject to Interference
Interference with Contracts
The first form of professional relationship subject to interference relies on the existence of a contract or agreement. When a contract exists and a third party interferes with it, your Houston civil litigation attorney has to prove the following elements for your claim to proceed.
- A contract exists between your business and the other party.
- This contract is valid.
- The outside party had knowledge of this agreement.
- Said outside party wrongfully and purposefully disrupted your contractual relationship.
- Their interference caused harm to your relationship and/or your business.
Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage
When no formal contract exists, the situation is quite different. For example, perhaps your business is in the middle of negotiations for a contract with the potential to increase your revenue. When an outside party interferes with your negotiations, and the contract is no longer on the table, you may have a claim against the outside party.
For this type of tortious interference claim with prospective economic advantage, your Houston business litigation attorney has to prove the following.
- Your business had a relationship with an individual or another business.
- An outside party knew about this relationship.
- Said outside party wrongfully disrupted your business relationship on purpose.
- Their interference caused harm to your business and/or that relationship.
Examples of Improper Conduct in Tortious Interference Claims
Here are a few examples of improper conduct by outside parties that might impact your business relationships and/or contracts.
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Economic pressure
- Initiating lawsuits – either civil or criminal
- Threats of violence
In some cases, Texas considers certain acts “independently tortious” when an individual could be sued under tort law. Oftentimes, there are a few determining factors in these claims.
- Whether the outside party’s actions were improper
- The motivation of the outside party
- How direct or indirect their interfering conduct is
Additionally, it depends on the interests of the outside party and the agenda they wish to advance. When a relationship exists between a business and the third party, and the outside party has the motivation to harm the business, courts take this into account as well.
Damages from Tortious Interference Claims
When your business suffers from tortious interference in Texas, there are certain losses you have the potential to recover. Often, this requires expert testimony to justify the damages.
With experienced civil litigation attorneys, Houston businesses have access to the resources necessary to prove your claim. Here are some of the potential damages for tortious interference claims.
- Profit loss: These are the anticipated profits lost as a result of the interference
- Economic loss: Documented financial losses.
- Punitive damages: In particularly egregious cases, the court awards damages to punish the defendant. The goal is to serve as a deterrent to stop others from similar behavior.
Houston Business Litigation Attorneys
In Texas, it is essential to act quickly with matters of civil litigation. The statute of limitations in Texas limits the amount of time available to file a tortious interference claim. In Texas, you have two years from the date of alleged interference to file a lawsuit.
With an experienced Houston business litigation attorney on your side, you have an advocate to help you through the process. It is essential that you speak with a civil litigation attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and the legal options available to you.
Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation with our team. Let us be your advocates to protect your rights and reputation.