Spring 2005-09 Court recaps tortious interference elements

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Number 59
Spring 2005

Court recaps tortious interference elements

According to R.R. Isla Verde Hotel Corp. v. Howard Johnson International, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 1234, tortious interference is not always present if a deal goes sour.

R.R. Isla Verde Hotel Corp. claimed that Howard Johnson International interfered with its contract to renovate and operate a hotel. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that in order to prevail in a tortious interference claim, the plaintiff must prove:

existence of a contract and knowledge thereof by the defendant,

an action on the part of the defendant to undermine that contractual relationship and

damages suffered from defendant's actions.

The Court of Appeals cited the Puerto Rico Supreme Court to the effect that the existence of a contract for a fixed period of time is indispensable. "'If what is affected . . . is a profitable financial relationship where there is no contract, the action does not lie . . .'"

The appellate court agreed that R.R. Isla Verde had failed in its burden to prove that first, indispensable requisite.

© 2005 Goldman Antonetti