Tortious Interference with a Valid Business Expectancy
To make a submissible case for tortious interference, one must plead (and ultimately prove) a (1) valid existing contract or business expectancy; that (2) the defendant had knowledge of the existing contract or business expectancy; (3) a business impairment and/or breach of contract is induced or caused by the defendant’s intentional interference; (4) there is no justification for the breach; and (5) there are ascertainable damages from the breach.
One of the more problematic and difficult elements to prove is the lack of justification. Under Missouri law, the burden is on the Plaintiff (i.e., the person requesting money damages) to prove that the Defendant had no legitimate business reason for the action(s). Indeed, it is almost always the case that a Defendant will say that he/she was acting in the normal course of business and that the actions were bona fide business decisions. In such a circumstance, it is up to the Plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that this is pretextal and/or untrue. Proof of the Defendant’s business conduct in the past is helpful.
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