August 21, 2015 Articles

Can Economic Pressure Alone Give Rise to a Tortious Interference Claim?

Learn what the majority and minority of courts have to say about the line between proper and improper economic pressure.

By David L. Johnson and Beau C. Creson

Competition and free enterprise are fundamental tenets of the American business model. From a very young age, American children are taught the mantra that hard work and competition make everyone better. Oftentimes, these lessons are learned through the lens of titanic business figures like Ford, Vanderbilt, and Carnegie. At some point, however, it becomes apparent that competition is only as good as the virtues of those who compete. Thus, each chapter in the story of American competition includes a struggle between proponents of pure competition for the sake of profit and those who look to the law for shelter from “unfair” or “improper” actions. One way the law has dealt with “unfair” or “improper” competition is through the creation of a cause of action for tortious interference. The law, however, is not uniform on where the line between fair play and unfair competition should be drawn.

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