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The continued abolition of the tort of intentional interference with business relationships is unreasonable. The Tennessee Supreme Court expressly adopts the tort of intentional interference with business relationships, thereby overruling that portion of Nelson v. Martin, 958 S.W.2d 643 (Tenn. 1997), which is inconsistent with the adoption of the tort. Liability should be imposed on the interfering party provided that the plaintiff can demonstrate the following: (1) an existing business relationship with specific third parties or a prospective relationship with an identifiable class of third persons; (2) the defendant's knowledge of that relationship and not a mere awareness of the plaintiff's business dealings with others in general; (3) the defendant's intent to cause the breach or termination of the business relationship; (4) the defendant's improper motive or improper means; and finally, (5) damages resulting from the tortious interference.
The medical clinic alleged that the insurance company, its employees, and its agents purposefully attacked its lawful business by making libelous statements and by creating defamatory documents for the purpose of ruining its reputation in the legal community, specifically claiming that the insurance company devised a scheme with its agents and employees to limit access to health care for injured persons to control and limit their claims expenses.
Did the complaint allege sufficient facts to state a claim for tortious interference with a business relationship?
The supreme court adopted the tort of interference with business relationships and held that the complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a cause of action, as the insurance company could be held vicariously liable for the tortious acts of counsel hired to defend an insured if it directed, commanded, or knowingly authorized the acts; and the medical clinic pleaded both improper motive and improper means of interference. However, the supreme court dismissed the claim of civil conspiracy for failure to satisfy the plurality requirement necessary to establish an actionable conspiracy claim.