Legal Memorandum: Damages for Tortious Interference with Contract

Issue: Under Wisconsin law, what damages are recoverable under claim for tortious interference with contract?

Area of Law: Business Organizations & Contracts
Keywords: Tortious interference with contract; Damages
Jurisdiction: Wisconsin
Cited Cases: 138 Wis. 2d 273; 405 N.W.2d 759; 122 Wis. 2d 656; 364 N.W.2d 158; 240 Wis. 2d 327; 620 N.W.2d 797
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2015

In general, damages for tortious interference consist of the “pecuniary loss of the benefits of the contract or prospective contract.”  Cudd v. Crownhart, 122 Wis. 2d 656, 659-60, 364 N.W.2d 158 (Ct. App. 1985); see also Musa v. Jefferson Cnty. Bank, 2001 WI 2, ¶ 29, 240 Wis. 2d 327, 620 N.W.2d 797.  These are essentially the same type damages as recoverable with respect to a breach of contract claim. 

However, in an appropriate case, special damages are also recoverable, including, for example, other expenses plaintiff incurred that are shown to be caused by the defendant’s tortious interference.  Id.  (even mental health treatment expenses have been found to be recoverable if necessitated by the interference).

Punitive damages may also be available in an appropriate tortious interference case.  Musa, 2001 WI 2 at ¶ 29.  By contrast, punitive damages are not available on a breach of contract claim.  Autumn Grove Joint Venture v. Rachlin, 138 Wis. 2d 273, 279, 405 N.W.2d 759 (Ct. App. 1987).


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