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Mueller v. Swift - 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83378 (D. Colo. May 31, 2017)

Rule:

A plaintiff cannot be entitled to relief on a claim of intentional interference with contract unless he alleges and proves that the defendant intentionally and improperly induced a party to breach the contract or improperly made it impossible for a party to perform. Rather, for liability to exist, the interference must be both intentional and improper.

Facts:

Plaintiff David Mueller initiated a lawsuit in Colorado state court against defendant Taylor Swift and others asserting claims of intentional interference with contract and intentional interference with prospective business relations. Swift in turn filed counterclaims against Mueller for the torts of assault and battery. The litigation arose from incident in which Mueller, during a "meet-and-greet" with Swift, allegedly touched Swift in an inappropriate manner. Ultimately, Mueller was terminated from his job as an on-air radio host. Swift removed the action to federal district court. Mueller subsequently amended his pleadings to add other claims. Swift filed a motion for summary judgment seeking judgment as a matter of law against all of Mueller's claims.

Issue:

Were Swift's and the other defendants' conduct both intentional and improper to qualify as tortious interference?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment as to Mueller's s claims for slander per se and slander per quod; the motion was denied as to all other claims. The court noted that when an actor's motive was disputed at summary judgment, the court gave particular deference to the non-moving party, in favor of submitting questions of motive to the jury, because in most cases proof of motive depended upon inferences drawn from circumstantial evidence. The court ruled, among other things, that summary judgment was not warranted because defendants acted with intent to interfere with Mueller's contract or knowing his termination was likely to result. 

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