Tortious Interference of Contract in Maryland
On of the most common dispute between businesses involves a tort know as tortious Interference of contract. Maryland recognizes two types of tortious interference claims: “inducing the breach of an existing contract and, more broadly, maliciously or wrongfully interfering with economic relationships in the absence of a breach of contract.” Kaser v. Fin. Prot. Mktg., Inc., 376 Md. 621, 628 (2003).
The two claims share the same elements – intentional acts done with the unlawful or wrongful purpose to cause damage to plaintiff’s lawful business with actual damage resulting – and can arise only out of the relationship between three parties, the two parties to the contract and a separate interferer. The three-party relationship applies equally in the instance of a business relationship where no express contract exists; however, in such situations, the right of an individual to interfere is treated more broadly.
We have found that if not properly and succinctly pled, this count may not survive a motion to dismiss at the start of the case, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Although there are no Maryland state court cases which address this issue on an initial motion to dismiss, the United States District Court for Maryland-applying Maryland law-has routinely dismissed such claims.
In Loren Data Corp. v. GXS, Inc., 2011 Judge Chasanow found that “[n]one of [plaintiff’s] allegations identify conduct that has been recognized as wrongful or unlawful for the purpose of stating a claim for tortious interference” and that plaintiff’s “failure to allege a wrongful act is fatal to its tortious interference claim”); S. Volkswagen, Inc. v. Centrix Fin., LLC, 357 F. Supp. 2d 837, 851-52 (D. Md. 2005) (finding that, as plaintiff could not sustain its antitrust or common law tort claims, it did not have an adequate basis to allege the necessary wrongful conduct and thus dismissal of plaintiff’s tortious interference claim was warranted); Enfield Equip. Co., Inc. v. John Deere Co., 64 F. Supp. 2d 483, 487 (D. Md. 1999) (“Given th[e] limited scope of tortious interference under Maryland law, the Court finds that [defendant’s] alleged conduct cannot form the basis for an intentional interference claim. Even if [defendant] had breached the … agreement … such action would not amount to the ‘improper or wrongful conduct’ necessary to support a tortious interference claim. Accordingly, the defendant’s motion to dismiss [plaintiff’s tortious interference claim] must be granted.”).
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