Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. Relative to public utilities. ACR 78, Holden. Blues Classical Country. Electronic Folk International. Jazz Latin New Age. Aggressive Bittersweet Druggy. Energetic Happy Hypnotic.
Romantic Sad Sentimental. Sexy Trippy All Moods. Drinking Hanging Out In Love. Introspection Late Night Partying. Superior Court 36 Cal. The first is whether inducing a party to a contract to seek to terminate the contract according to its terms is ever actionable interference with contractual or prospective economic relations.
The second question is whether actual interference is adequately alleged when the interference consists of inducing litigation on the contract.
Considering the established [50 Cal. This conclusion will bring us face to face with the question, not squarely framed by the parties, whether it is proper to impose liability for inducing a potentially meritorious lawsuit. We will conclude that it is not. Bear Stearns claims initially that there can be no cause of action for inducing a contracting party to seek to terminate the contract according to its terms. The claim runs afoul of the rule, established in this and the majority of other jurisdictions,fn.
We have affirmed that interference 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'" Speegle v.
Board of Fire Underwriters 29 Cal. Raich U. As Justice Tobriner said in the context of voidable contracts: "The actionable wrong lies in the inducement to break the contract or to sever the relationship, not in the kind of contract or relationship so disrupted, whether it is written or oral, enforceable or not enforceable.
Bank of America Cal. Westminster Nat. Bank 6 Cal. Reviewing courts have reiterated in case after case that the contractual relationship is at the will of the parties, not at the will of outsiders. Speegle v. Board of Fire Underwriters, supra, 29 Cal. Briney 39 Cal. Richman 10 Cal. Bank, supra, 6 Cal. Manchester Service, Inc. Further, the expectation that the parties will honor the terms of the contract is protected against officious intermeddlers.
Since people "'usually honor their promises no matter what flaws a lawyer can find, the offender should not be heard to say that the contract In Shida v. Japan Food Corp. The contract had been renewed for seven years. Despite the express termination clause, plaintiff was protected against unjustified interference by third parties. Pacific Professional Ins.
Chapman Bldg. California Mart 2 Cal. The result seems obvious; if we protect an economic relationship that is wholly prospective from outside interference, we must also protect contractual relationships that are subject to termination. 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.
Brisbane Elementary Sch. Care Enterprises, supra, Cal. Shamblin v. Berge Cal. Woolworth Co. The only threat to the contract is the litigation. Nonetheless, the question remains whether inducing a third party to bring litigation on a colorable claim can be the basis for tort liability. No California case upholding a claim for interference with contract or prospective advantage has involved this kind of conduct. The actionable harm is in forcing the individual to expend financial and emotional resources to defend against a baseless claim.
Bertero v. National General Corp. The bringing of a colorable claim is not actionable; plaintiff in a malicious prosecution action must prove that the prior action was brought without probable cause and was pursued to a legal termination in plaintiff's favor.
Sheldon Appel Co. In fact we have recently refused to vest the jury with the task of determining whether plaintiff has demonstrated that the prior action was brought without probable cause; a court must make the determination "[t]o avoid improperly deterring individuals from resorting to the courts for the resolution of disputes.
The probable cause requirement is essential to assure free access to the courts; the cause of action is the result of an accommodation "between the freedom of an individual to seek redress in the courts and the interest of a potential defendant in being free from unjustified litigation. Obviously if the bringing of a colorable claim were actionable, tort law would inhibit free access to the courts and impair our society's commitment to the peaceful, judicial resolution of differences.
Other jurisdictions have perceived the same danger in allowing a petition for judicial or administrative relief to be the basis for a claim of interference with contract or prospective advantage. In Baker Driveaway Co. Bankhead Enterprises E. Plaintiffs had sought to patent a trailer design and defendant had formally intervened in the patent office proceedings with the intent to delay them and thus avoid the obligation to pay royalties ; this intervention could not be the basis for a claim of interference with prospective [50 Cal.
The court concluded that the cause of action closely resembled one for malicious prosecution and that it was premature since the patent office action had not concluded. Similarly in Blake v. Levy Conn. There, plaintiff and a third party had negotiated a merger. On the day it was to be consummated defendant demanded a broker's commission.
Plaintiff refused and defendant sued for the fee and ultimately settled. Plaintiff then sued in turn, claiming that defendant's act of filing suit and pursuing it to settlement was tortious interference with plaintiff's contractual relations under the merger agreement. The court disagreed. It compared the torts of malicious prosecution and interference with prospective economic advantage, and said that in order to protect free access to the courts, the same limitation that the prior "interfering" action must have concluded in plaintiff's favor should apply to both.
We assure all participants in litigation, including litigants, prospective witnesses and counsel, "the utmost freedom of access to the courts without fear of being harassed subsequently by derivative tort actions" by extending a broad privilege for publications made in the course of litigation. Silberg v. Anderson, ante, , [ Cal.
The policy of encouraging free access to the courts is so important that the litigation privilege extends beyond claims of defamation to claims of abuse of process, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent misrepresentation, invasion of privacy, fraud, and to the torts alleged here: interference with contract and prospective economic advantage. Anderson, [50 Cal. Random House. New York. L A Times. Archived from the original on May 6, Archived PDF from the original on January 29, Retrieved January 15, Archived from the original on May 27, Retrieved June 15, Charles M.
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