Jury Instructions for a Claim of Tortious Interference with Prospective Relations

09/15/2009

What can be so hard about instructing a jury on a claim for tortious interference with prospective relations? Perhaps nothing - depending upon the elements of the claim in your state and the factual basis for the interference and other pleaded claims in your case. But, particularly when the claim requires that the interfering conduct be “independently wrongful” or even “improper,” properly instructing the jury may be more difficult than you might think. What must the court decide and what must the jury decide? How is the jury instructed on the tortious or improper interfering conduct? What if the independently tortious conduct is or is not inquired about elsewhere in the verdict form? Should the jury receive guidance on deciding what is sufficiently improper? This article describes in general some of the variations between states as to the elements of a claim for tortious interference with prospective relations and in particular how the requirement of “improper” interference creates difficulties in properly instructing the jury.

Reprinted by permission, American Bar Association Business Torts Journal, Volume 16, Number 4, Summer 2009.

To read the complete article click on the PDF below.

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