Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tortious interference with prospective business relations - Elements of this biz tort under Texas law


Texas has long recognized the tort of interference with prospective business relations. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Sturges, 52 S.W.3d 711, 712-13 (Tex. 2001).
Although the Texas Supreme Court has never set forth the elements for this claim, see Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Fin. Review Servs., Inc., 29 S.W.3d 74, 78 (Tex. 2000), several appellate courts have. See, e.g., Tex. Integrated Conveyor Sys., Inc. v. Innovative Conveyor Concepts, Inc., 300 S.W.3d 348, 367 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2009, pet. denied); Labor v. Warren, 268 S.W.3d 273, 278 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2008, no pet.); Tex. Disposal Sys. Landfill, Inc. v. Waste Management Holdings, Inc., 219 S.W.3d 563, 590 (Tex. App.-Austin 2007, pets. denied); Baty v. ProTech Ins. Agency, 63 S.W.3d 841, 860 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, pets. denied).

These courts hold that to establish a claim for tortious interference with prospective business relations, a plaintiff must show: (1) a reasonable probability that the parties would have entered into a business relationship; (2) an intentional, malicious intervention or an independently tortious or unlawful act performed by the defendant with a desire to prevent the relationship or with the knowledge the interference was likely to occur as a result of its conduct; (3) lack of privilege or justification for the defendant's actions; and (4) actual harm or damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant's interference, i.e., the defendant's actions prevented the relationship. Labor, 268 S.W.3d at 278.

SOURCE: SAN ANTONIOCOURT OF APPEALS - 04-13-00033-CV - 11/6/2013