Claims of Tortious Interference with Online Defamation and First Amendment

The legal term ‘Tortious Interference’ has been used in lots of cases. In current scenario, tort related to business relationship interference’ and tort encouraging breach of contract’ are of great importance. Pepsi food Vs. Coca Cola (1999) case of Delhi Court was about poaching of employees. This is an example of tortuous interference. It is not just MNC companies or celebrities filing complaints against tort, but today it is claimed against online defamation cases.

Let’s understand what is tortious interference? How is it related to online defamation?

Tortious interference means Company C deliberately breaches a contract that Company A had with B. Now, the question is what tortuous interference has to do with internet and defamation. Allegations of online defamation are escalating.

Cases involve negative comments posted on a specific product & services on review sites. It is a fact that torts are hard to prove but sometimes the plaintiff’s lawyer throw charges, which are unfriendly. Therefore, there needs to be some rule, when you are about to file a case for tortious interference.

Torts against aggressive online reviews

Computer Fraud & Abuse Act and defamation removal law support data security & privacy rules. Generally, the litigations are focused on issues like –

  • Copyright breach
  • Tortious interference
  • Defamation
  • Product criticism
  • Right of publicity

Issues like tortious interference, product criticism, and defamation are similar to some extent. They all refer to people posting negative comment online that can damage their repute in a legally prohibited way. For example, if you post, ‘I don’t like food at Crusty Diner and will not go back there again’ then it is your opinion but if you slash out saying, ‘don’t eat at Crusty Diner – you will get hospitalized’ then it is illegal.

There are exceptions, when you slash out factual reviews. If you are a health inspector then you can state the ‘facts’. Stating facts can be very expensive because to prove it can be hard in the court. Therefore, stick to your opinion because it is wiser.

Claims of online tortious interference & defamation

When you pursue torts in tandem with character defamation then the fate of two claims are closely related. In other words, if tortious interference claim gets rejected then in most cases the defamation claim also gets declined. Therefore, make sure that you cover all the ground principles underlying to sue for tortious interference.

In common here are the six elements that every jurisdiction looks for in tortious interference claim cases.

  1. A valid relationship of contract needs to exist between minimal two parties.
  2. The 3rd party defendant was aware or had knowledge about the contract between 2 parties.
  3. Breach of contract by defendant was intentional.
  4. Defendant’s interference was not a legally privileged act.
  5. A contractual breach has actually occurred.
  6. Non-breaching party suffered calculable damages.

Claims of Tortious interference & first amendment

Sometime bloggers get sued because their free speech can hinder the subject’s life. First amendment or freedom of speech is everyone’s right, but the consequences may be termed as tortious interference.

For example, in 2011 a blogger was ruled to pay significantly to the subject of his article. The jury found the facts real but the subject lost his job. The jury ruled that the skeptical blog post had interfered tortuously with the subject’s connection with his employer.

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