Q- How I would expect an interferer to defend the charge?
A Defendant sued for tortious interference may try to defend himself by alleging that the damages were actually Plaintiff’s fault. Southwestern Bell v. John Carlo 813 SW2d 613 (Houston 14th Dist 1991). Here, Defendant alleges that the Plaintiff’s own acts or omissions caused, or contributed to, Plaintiff’s injuries. Defendant may also asset an affirmative defense of privilege, or legal justification. A Defendant alleging privilege, says that he is exercising his own rights in good faith, or has a right that is equal to or greater than that of the contracting parties to the contract. Also, to be considered, is the potential of defense that the Defendant intentionally causing a person not to perform a contract, may not be liable for interference, if he is giving truthful information or honest advice within the scope of a request for advice.
Defendant may also assert the defense of justification. Defendant may be justified in interference if the Defendant is exercising his own legal rights or a good faith claim to a colorable legal right even if he ultimately proves to be mistaken. In the case of Calvillo vs. Gonzalez 922 S.W. 2nd 928, 929 (Tex. 1996) the Defendant’s exclusive contract to operate and staff an anesthesia department gave him the legal right to prevent the hospital from contracting with another anesthesiologist. This is a justification case. On the issue on whether the Defendant has a good faith claim to a colorable legal right, “good faith” means having an objectively well-grounded and justifiable belief of a right. “Colorable legal right” is defined as an appearance of a right that would lead others, without inquiry, to suppose the right exists. Defendant may also plead mitigation of damages to reduce the damages. Bennett v. Computer 932 SW2d 197 (Amarillo 1996).
Q- What sort of damages can be recovered?
Damages, such as lost benefits of the contract, are recoverable, where the court measures the pecuniary loss of the benefit of the contract. The standard measure of actual damages for tortious interference with existing contract is measured the same as for breach of contract, in other words, putting the Plaintiff in the same economic position that he would have been in had the contract been performed. In Boyles vs. Thompson, 585 S.W.2d 821, 835 (Tex. Civ. App-Ft. Worth 1979, no Writ), the tortious interference damages were calculated as the exact amount that the Plaintiff would have earned had the contract been completed. Also, tortious interference damages in the context of businesses generally fall under the categories of Plaintiff’s lost profits, requiring reasonable certainty as to the damages without speculation, and in the evidence of a precise calculation of those anticipated profits, Plaintiff may introduce evidence of Defendant’s profits, which can obviously relate to the profits Plaintiff may have made. In addition, Plaintiff may allege and recover exemplary damages, plus interest and court costs, but attorney’s fees are not available unless otherwise permitted under a difference statute or law.
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*The foregoing is not intended to provide specific legal advice, but instead only as a generalized discussion
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