11182017Headline:

Gadsden, Alabama

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Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts
Attorney • (256) 543-0400

Alabama Court Clarifies Burden Of Proof For Interference With Business Relations

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A recent decision in the Alabama Supreme Court has clarified the requirements for filing and proving a claim for intentional interference with business relations. Since at least 1986, Alabama courts have recognized this claim as a distinct tort, but arguments have been asserted based on a lack of understanding or clarity about the specific requirements or elements for such cases. The requirements as typically described include the existence of a contract or business relation; defendant’s knowledge of that contract or business relation; intentional interference with that contract or business relation; damage or losses to the plaintiff as a result of this interference. In this recent case, one company “put pressure” on landowners to sell to that company, notwithstanding the fact that the owners had signed a “letter of intent” to sell to the plaintiff company. The Supreme Court rejected the interfering company’s arguments that the plaintiff company had the burden of proof in showing the “absence of justification” for the interference. The court held that “justification” is an affirmative defense for which the interfering company, the defendant, had the burden of proof. (For further discussion of the tort of interference with business relations, see Chapter 26, Alabama Tort Law (Lexis Law Publishing).