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Virginia Tortious Interference Law More Permissive than Georgia

In Virginia, to state a claim for tortious interference with contractual relationships, a plaintiff generally must allege (1) the existence of a valid contractual relationship or business expectancy; (2) knowledge of the relationship or expectancy on the part of the interferor; (3) intentional interference inducing or causing a breach or termination of the relationship or expectancy; and (4) resultant damage to the party whose relationship or expectancy has been disrupted. A person must be a stranger to a contract to tortiously interfere with it; one cannot interfere with his own contract. Some states take this "stranger" requirement further, holding that a plaintiff can sue a defendant for tortious interference only if the defendant is a stranger to both the contract and the underlying business relationship giving rise to the contract.

In those states adhering to the so-called Stranger Doctrine, third-party beneficiaries are not considered strangers to the contract even though they are not parties to it. If a defendant has a legitimate interest in either the contract or a party to the contract, the defendant is not considered a stranger. In Georgia, for example, there can be no tortious interference claim where the plaintiff and defendant were parties to "a comprehensive interwoven set of contracts." A recent unpublished opinion from the 11th Circuit shows how restrictive this rule can be.

Read the rest of the article at the Virginia Business Litigation Lawyer blog

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