California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

2201. Intentional Interference With Contractual Relations

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2201.Intentional Interference With Contractual
Relations—Essential Factual Elements
[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] intentionally interfered
with the contract between [him/her/it] and [name of third party]. To
establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:
1. That there was a contract between [name of plaintiff] and [name
of third party];
2. That [name of defendant] knew of the contract;
3. That [name of defendant]’s conduct prevented performance or
made performance more expensive or difficult;
4. That [name of defendant] [intended to disrupt the performance of
this contract/ [or] knew that disruption of performance was
certain or substantially certain to occur];
5. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and
6. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in
causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.
New September 2003; Revised June 2012, December 2013
Directions for Use
This tort is sometimes called intentional interference with performance of a
contract. (See Little v. Amber Hotel Co. (2011) 202 Cal.App.4th 280, 291 [136
Cal.Rptr.3d 97].) If the validity of a contract is an issue, see the series of contracts
instructions (CACI No. 300 et seq.).
Sources and Authority
• “The elements which a plaintiff must plead to state the cause of action for
intentional interference with contractual relations are (1) a valid contract
between plaintiff and a third party; (2) defendant’s knowledge of this contract;
(3) defendant’s intentional acts designed to induce a breach or disruption of the
contractual relationship; (4) actual breach or disruption of the contractual
relationship; and (5) resulting damage.” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Bear
Stearns & Co. (1990) 50 Cal.3d 1118, 1126 [270 Cal.Rptr. 1, 791 P.2d 587],
internal citations omitted.)
• “[A] cause of action for intentional interference with contract requires an
underlying enforceable contract. Where there is no existing, enforceable
contract, only a claim for interference with prospective advantage may be
pleaded.” (PMC, Inc. v. Saban Entertainment, Inc. (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 579,
601 [52 Cal.Rptr.2d 877].)
• “Because interference with an existing contract receives greater solicitude than
does interference with prospective economic advantage, it is not necessary that
the defendant’s conduct be wrongful apart from the interference with the
contract itself.” (Quelimane Co. v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. (1998) 19 Cal.4th
26, 55 [77 Cal.Rptr.2d 709, 960 P.2d 513], internal citations omitted.)
• “The question is whether a plaintiff must plead and prove that the defendant
engaged in wrongful acts with the specific intent of interfering with the
plaintiff’s business expectancy. We conclude that specific intent is not a required
element of the tort of interference with prospective economic advantage. While
a plaintiff may satisfy the intent requirement by pleading specific intent, i.e.,
that the defendant desired to interfere with the plaintiff’s prospective economic
advantage, a plaintiff may alternately plead that the defendant knew that the
interference was certain or substantially certain to occur as a result of its
action.” (Korea Supply Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1134,
1154 [131 Cal.Rptr.2d 29, 63 P.3d 937], original italics.)
• “We caution that although we find the intent requirement to be the same for the
torts of intentional interference with contract and intentional interference with
prospective economic advantage, these torts remain distinct.” (Korea Supply
Co., supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 1157.)
• “Plaintiff need not allege an actual or inevitable breach of contract in order to
state a claim for disruption of contractual relations. We have recognized that
interference with the plaintiff’s performance may give rise to a claim for
interference with contractual relations if plaintiff’s performance is made more
costly or more burdensome. Other cases have pointed out that while the tort of
inducing breach of contract requires proof of a breach, the cause of action for
interference with contractual relations is distinct and requires only proof of
interference.” (Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1129, internal
citations omitted.)
• “[A] contracting party cannot be held liable in tort for conspiracy to interfere
with its own contract.” (Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp. v. Actelion Ltd. (2013) 222
Cal.App.4th 945, 961 [166 Cal.Rptr.3d 134], original italics.)
• “[I]nterference with an at-will contract is actionable interference with the
contractual relationship, on the theory that a contract ‘at the will of the parties,
respectively, does not make it one at the will of others.’ ” (Pacific Gas &
Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1127, internal citations and quotations
• “We conclude that a plaintiff seeking to state a claim for intentional interference
with contract or prospective economic advantage because defendant induced
another to undertake litigation, must allege that the litigation was brought
without probable cause and that the litigation concluded in plaintiff’s favor.”
(Pacific Gas & Electric Co., supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 1137.)
• “[A]n actor with ‘ “a financial interest in the business of another is privileged
purposely to cause him not to enter into or continue a relation with a third
person in that business if the actor [¶] (a) does not employ improper means, and
[¶] (b) acts to protect his interest from being prejudiced by the relation[.]” ’ ”
(Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp, supra, 222 Cal.App. 4th at p. 962.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 741, 742, 759
Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch. 5-E, Intentional
Interference With Contract Or Prospective Economic Advantage, ¶ 5:461 et seq.
(The Rutter Group)
3 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 40, Fraud and Deceit and Other Business Torts,
§§ 40.110–40.117 (Matthew Bender)
49 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 565, Unfair Competition,
§ 565.133 (Matthew Bender)
12 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 122, Interference, § 122.20 et seq.
(Matthew Bender)