Law Lessons from THE STAUBACH COMPANY OF PENNSYLVANIA V. GALLOWAY AUTOMOTIVE, LLC., T/A GALLOWAY CHRYSLER-DODGE, ET AL., App. Div., A-4512-08T1, December 3, 2010:
To prove a cause of action for either tortious interference with a prospective contractual relationship or for tortious interference with an existing contract, a plaintiff must prove that the interference was “inflicted intentionally and without justification.” 214 Corp. v. Casino Reinvestment Dev. Auth., 280 N.J. Super. 624, 628 (Law Div. 1994). See also Russo v. Nagel, 358 N.J. Super. 254, 268 (App. Div. 2003).
In Russo, the court described the elements of a cause of action for tortious interference with a contractual relationship as follows:
(1) actual interference with a contract;
(2) that the interference was inflicted intentionally by a defendant who is not a party to the contract;
(3) that the interference was without justification; and
(4) that the interference caused damage.
The court also observed in Russo that interference with a contract will be deemed intentional if the defendant “‘desires to bring it about or if he knows that the interference is certain or substantially certain to occur as a result of his action.'” Ibid. (quoting Restatement (Second) Torts, § 766A, comment e (1977)). The interference with a contract must include an element of malice, but not “in the literal sense requiring ill will toward [the] plaintiff.” Id. at 269.
Rather, “‘malice is defined to mean that the harm was inflicted intentionally and without justification or excuse.'” Ibid. (quoting Printing Mart-Morristown v. Sharp Elec. Corp., 116 N.J. 739, 751 (1989)).
A cause of action for tortious interference cannot succeed in the absence of proof of an intentional interference with a contract.
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