Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

How to prove a tortious interference case in Texas: What are the elements?

  
TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE: THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE TORT 

To recover for tortious interference with a contract, a plaintiff must prove: (1) the existence of a contract subject to interference; (2) a willful and intentional act of interference; (3) that proximately caused the plaintiff's injury, and (4) actual damage or loss. See Butnaru v. Ford Motor Co., 84 S.W.3d 198, 207 (Tex. 2002); ACS Investors, Inc. v. McLaughlin, 943 S.W.2d 426, 430 (Tex. 1997).

Privilege Defense to tortious interference claim
 
Even if the plaintiff is able to establish each of the above elements, a defendant may negate liability by pleading and proving that its conduct was privileged. See ACS Investors, 943 S.W.2d at 431. A person is privileged to interfere with another’s contract if it is done in a bona fide exercise of his own rights or if he has an equal or superior right in the subject matter to that of the other party. Tex. Beef Cattle Co. v. Green, 921 S.W.2d 203, 211 (Tex. 1996). When a privilege based on a financial interest or principal-agent relationship exists, there can be no tortious interference with a contract as a matter of law. Cent. Sav. & Loan Ass’n v. Stemmons Nw. Bank, N.A, 848 S.W.2d 232, 241–42 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1992, no writ) (citing Schoellkopf v. Pledger, 778 S.W.2d 897, 903 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1989 writ denied)).

SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals 01-09-00916-CV 4/28/11

LEGAL TERMS: tortious [not tortuous] interference with contract, contractual relations, business, affirmative defenses to interference tort