California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

2210. Affirmative Defense—Privilege to Protect Own Financial Interest

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2210.Affirmative Defense Privilege to Protect Own Financial
[Name of defendant] claims that there was no intentional interference
with contractual relations because [he/she/it] acted only to protect [his/
her/its] legitimate financial interests. To succeed, [name of defendant]
must prove all of the following:
1. That [name of defendant] had a [legitimate] financial interest in
the contractual relations because [specify financial interest];
2. That [name of defendant] acted only to protect [his/her/its] own
financial interest;
3. That [name of defendant] acted reasonably and in good faith to
protect it; and
4. That [name of defendant] used appropriate means to protect it.
New June 2016
Directions for Use
Give this instruction as an affirmative defense to a claim for intentional interference
with contractual relations. (See CACI No. 2201.) The defense presents a
justification based on the defendant’s right to protect its own financial interest.
In element 1, the jury should be told the specific financial interest that the
defendant was acting to protect. Include “legitimate” if the jury will be asked to
determine whether that financial interest was legitimate, as opposed perhaps to
pretextual or fraudulent.
Sources and Authority
• “In harmony with the general guidelines of the test for justification is the
narrow protection afforded to a party where (1) he has a legally protected
interest, (2) in good faith threatens to protect it, and (3) the threat is to protect
it by appropriate means. Prosser adds: ‘Where the defendant acts to further his
own advantage, other distinctions have been made. If he has a present, existing
economic interest to protect, such as the ownership or condition of property, or
a prior contract of his own, or a financial interest in the affairs of the person
persuaded, he is privileged to prevent performance of the contract of another
which threatens it; and for obvious reasons of policy he is likewise privileged to
assert an honest claim, or bring or threaten a suit in good faith.’ ” (Richardson
v. La Rancherita (1979) 98 Cal.App.3d 73, 81 [159 Cal.Rptr. 285], internal
citation omitted.)
• “Justification for the interference is an affirmative defense and not an element
of plaintiff’s cause of action.” (Richardson, supra, 98 Cal.App.3d at p. 80.)
• “Something other than sincerity and an honest conviction by a party in his
position is required before justification for his conduct on the grounds of ‘good
faith’ can be established. There must be an objective basis for the belief which
requires more than reliance on counsel.” (Richardson, supra, 98 Cal.App.3d at
pp. 82−83.)
• “A thoroughly bad motive, that is, a purpose solely to harm the plaintiff, of
course, is sufficient to exclude any apparent privilege which the interests of the
parties might otherwise create, just as such a motive will defeat the immunity
of any other conditional privilege. If the defendant does not act in a bona fide
attempt to protect his own interest or the interest of others involved in the
situation, he forfeits the immunity of the privilege. . . . Conduct is actionable,
when it is indulged solely to harm another, since the legitimate interest of the
defendant is practically eliminated from consideration. The defendant’s interest,
although of such a character as to justify an invasion of another’s similar
interest, is not to be taken into account when the defendant acts, not for the
purpose of protecting that interest, but solely to damage the plaintiff.” (Bridges
v. Cal-Pacific Leasing Co. (1971) 16 Cal.App.3d 118, 132 [93 Cal.Rptr. 796],
original italics.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, § 760
3Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 40, Fraud and Deceit and Other Business Torts,
§ 40.119 (Matthew Bender)
49 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 565, Unfair Competition,
§ 565.137 (Matthew Bender)
12 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 122, Interference, § 122.42 et seq.
(Matthew Bender)
2211–2299. Reserved for Future Use