Recognition of a actionable tort as an interference with prospective business advantage protects the expectancies of future contractual relations, such as the opportunity of obtaining customers. A purpose on defendant's part to financially injure or destroy the plaintiff is essential.
The appliance store filed a lawsuit for nuisance and tortious interference with prospective business advantage against a manufacturer and a vendor that provided electronic services to a travel agency because one of the manufacturer's computers placed at the travel agency generated interference with television sets displayed for sale by the appliance store. A jury found for the appliance store against the manufacturer and vendor on both theories, and awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The trial court awarded an indemnity judgment for the vendor against the manufacturer. Appellants sought review and the court reversed and remanded to the trial court with instructions to set aside the judgment in favor of the appliance store and the judgment in favor of the vendor, and granted a new trial.
Was there sufficient evidence of purpose for defendant to financially injure or destroy the plaintiff?
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Appliance Center, we hold it did not introduce substantial evidence of a purpose on the part of either defendant to injure or destroy the Appliance Center's business. At the most, defendants' actions or lack of action can only be interpreted as showing a total disregard for the success of the Appliance Center's enterprise. The motions for directed verdict on this count should have been granted.