Interference with business relations is one type of tortious interference. The other type of tortious interference is interference with contracts. While both torts are similar, one involves a contract between parties and one does not. This chapter covers the type of tort where there is no contract in place but the interference allegedly causes harm between the plaintiff and another third party for which there is or could be a business relationship. In simple terms, this tort involves the plaintiff accusing the defendant of interfering with his or her business, resulting in damages (loss of revenue or potential revenue).
In most jurisdictions, there are five elements needed to be proven in order to show that there was an intentional interference with one’s business relations.
There is a business relationship or prospective business relationship between the parties.
The defendant had knowledge of the business relationship or expected business relationship.
The defendant purposely caused one of the parties to terminate the business relationship or expected business relationship.
The defendant was not authorized to interfere.
There were damages suffered by the plaintiff because of the interference.
Regarding element number four, in what circumstance would someone be authorized to interfere with a business relationship An example would be a state board of pharmacy inspector coming to a pharmacy and closing down the operation because of finding twenty-one serious violations that could ultimately harm patients. While the pharmacy will likely lose business as a result, it was necessary and proper for the inspector to interfere.
It is worth noting that element number five, where damages are actually suffered, is the same as the final element in negligence. Without damages, the case will not be successful. Showing or quantifying the damages can be tricky, as will be shown in the following case. Further, this following case covers both intentional interference with business relations and invasion of privacy. As you read this briefed case, note the tension regarding controlled substances. The prescriber is doing what she thinks is right (taking care of patients), and the pharmacists are correctly following their corresponding responsibility. Did the pharmacists take it too far
BROWN V. CVS PHARMACY, L.L.C., ET AL.
___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2013 WL 5574486 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 9, 2013)
Desired Remedy: Dr. Joyce Brown seeks relief from four pharmacies for intentional interference with business relations and invasion of privacy after the pharmacists at these pharmacies refused to fill prescriptions written by her and for telling patients that she was under investigation.
Issues: Did the pharmacists at the four pharmacies intentionally try to harm Dr. Joyce Brown’s business relations and invade her privacy by refusing to fill prescriptions and by telling patients that Dr. Brown was under investigation
Facts of Case: Dr. Joyce Brown, a pain-management physician, focused her practice on treating patients needing pain relief. Because of the focus of her practice, she prescribed many narcotic ...