Issue: Under Wisconsin law, what are the elements of tortious interference with contract or prospective contract?
|Area of Law:||Business Organizations & Contracts|
|Keywords:||Tortious interference with contract; Prospective contract; Elements|
|Cited Cases:||62 Wis. 2d 273; 9 Wis. 2d 487; 228 Wis. 2d 425; 101 N.W.2d 805|
The tort of tortious interference with contract or prospective contract is committed when “[o]ne who, without a privilege to do so, induces another . . . not to perform a contract with another [and such actor] is liable for the harm caused thereby.” Lorenz v. Dreske, 62 Wis. 2d 273, 286, (1974). The elements of the tort are: (1) the plaintiff had a contract or prospective contractual relationship with a third party; (2) the defendant interfered with the relationship; (3) the interference was intentional; (4) a causal connection exists between the interference and the damages; and (5) the defendant was not privileged to interfere. See Dorr v. Sacred Heart Hosp., 228 Wis. 2d 425, 456-57, 597 N.W.2d 462 (Ct. App. 1999).
Even if a contractual relationship is terminable at will, a claim for tortious interference with contract may still be viable. Mendelson v. Blatz Brewing Co., 9 Wis. 2d 487, 491, 101 N.W.2d 805, 807 (1960).
If a corporate officer ‘”causes or participates in authorizing a breach of contract between [the corporate officer’s] company and a third person, [the corporate officer] may well be regarded as protected only by a conditional privilege, which will be destroyed by a wrongful motive.'” Lorenz, 62 Wis. 2d at 287.