If someone or another business attempts to interfere with a relationship that you are entering into with another business or customer, or in fact diverts that relationship, you or your business may have a claim against that individual or business for intentional interference with a business expectancy–or interference with “prospective economic advantage.” In general, 4 elements must exist to prove this tort: (1) a reasonable expectancy of entering into a valid business relationship; (2) the defendant’s knowledge of the expectancy; (3) the defendant’s intentional and unjustified interference that prevents the realization of the business expectancy; and (4) damages resulting from the interference. See e.g. Chicago’s Pizza, Inc. v. Chicago’s Pizza Franchise Ltd. USA, 893 N.E.2d 981 (1st Dist. 2008). In fact, you need not even have an enforceable contract with the other business or customer–only the expectancy of entering into a relationship. See e.g. Mannion v. Stallings & Co., Inc., 204 Ill.App.3d 179, 561 N.E.2d 1134 (1st Dist. 1990). Competitors may have a right to compete; however,how that competition is carried out is the key analysis. These types of cases are extremely fact-specific; however, if you or your business feels another has intentionally and unjustifiably interfered with your relationship(s), call us to review the situation.

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