Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tortious Interference with Contract: What are the elements?

PROVING TORT OF TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH EXISTING CONTRACT The elements of tortious interference with contract are (1) existence of a contract subject to interference, (2) willful and intentional interference, (3) interference that proximately caused damage, and (4) actual damage or loss. Powell Indus., Inc. v. Allen, 985 S.W.2d 455, 456 (Tex. 1998). SOURCE: 14-08-00019-CV (14th Court of Appeals)(2/23/2010) (No liability for tortious interference where underlying contract not proven)

Was a contract validly formed? A "meeting of the minds" as a component of offer and acceptance as essential elements of contract-formation


To prevail on a breach-of-contract claim, a plaintiff must prove (1) a valid contract existed between the plaintiff and the defendant, (2) the plaintiff tendered performance or was excused from doing so, (3) the defendant breached the terms of the contract, and (4) the plaintiff sustained damages as a result of the defendant’s breach. West v. Triple B Servs., LLP, 264 S.W.3d 440, 446 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist] 2008, no pet.). 

In its motion for summary judgment, ConocoPhillips asserted the evidence conclusively negated the existence of a valid contract because the parties did not have a meeting of the minds; i.e. offer and acceptance. 

Among other elements, a party must prove offer and acceptance to demonstrate existence of a valid contract. DeClaire v. G & B Mcintosh Family Ltd. P’ship, 260 S.W.3d 34, 44 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, no pet.); Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lopez, 93 S.W.3d 548, 555–56 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.). 

A “meeting of the minds” is “merely a mutuality subpart of the offer and acceptance elements.” Domingo v. Mitchell, 257 S.W.3d 34, 40 (Tex. App.—Amarillo 2008, pet. denied). Although whether the parties intended to be bound is often a question of fact, it may be determined as a matter of law. See Foreca, S.A. v. GRD Devel. Co., 758 S.W.2d 744, 746 (Tex. 1988).  

SOURCE: WTG Gas Processing, LP v. ConocoPhillips Company (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Feb. 23, 2010)(Seymore)(breach of contract and tortious-interference claims, no contract formed, meeting of the minds on material terms, statute of frauds, summary judgment affirmed)  

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is a quasi-contract, implied-in-fact contract?


“A contract implied in law, or a quasi-contract, is distinguishable from a true contract because a quasi-contract is a legal fiction, an obligation imposed by law regardless of any actual agreement between the parties.” Fraud-Tech, Inc. v. Choicepoint, Inc., 102 S.W.3d 366, 386 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2003, pet. ref’d); see Fortune Prod. Co. v. Conoco, Inc., 52 S.W.3d 671, 684 (Tex. 2000).

Underwood Graves v. Logan (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 28 2010)(no express contract or implied duty for creditor to promptly provide pay-off statement for real estate note found; breach of contract claim brought by maker after sale of real estate fell through accordingly fails)

Breach of Contract Elements (Houston Court of Appeals Cites)

BREACH OF CONTRACT: ELEMENTS OF CAUSE OF ACTION IN TEXAS The essential elements in a suit for breach of contract are: (1) the existence of a valid contract; (2) the plaintiff performed or tendered performance; (3) the defendant breached the contract; and (4) the plaintiff was damaged as a result of the breach. Bank of Tex. v. VR Elec., Inc., 276 S.W.3d 671, 677 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, pet. denied); Prime Prods., Inc. v. S.S.I. Plastics, Inc., 97 S.W.3d 631, 636 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, pet. denied). “ DEFINITION OF BREACH OF CONTRACT, CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION A breach of contract occurs when a party fails to perform an act that it has expressly or impliedly promised to perform.” Case Corp. v. Hi-Class Bus. Sys. of Am., Inc., 184 S.W.3d 760, 769–70 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2005, pet. denied). SOURCE: Underwood Graves vs. Logan , No. 01-08-00359-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 28 2010) (real estate transactions, creditor's failure to promptly provide pay-off amount for real estate loan not actionable; no contractual obligation to do so shown; no implied contractual duty)