Firm Prevails on Summary Judgment for Client on Competitor’s Claim for Tortious Interference
The firm recently prevailed on summary judgment for the firm’s client on a competitor’s sole remaining claim for tortious interference with advantageous business relationships. The firm previously succeeded in securing the dismissal of the competitor’s three other claims, leaving only its tortious interference claim pending.
The firm’s client (“Client”) is an ERISA plan fiduciary and third-party administrator for employer retirement plans. In 2020, after the Client refused to enter a non-compete agreement with the competitor, the competitor filed two separate actions against the Client for allegedly causing two of the competitor’s customers to stop doing business with the competitor. The parent company for the competitor also bought a minority interest in the Client from another minority shareholder and filed a third lawsuit against the Client for corporation dissolution and related claims. By securing summary judgment for the Client on the competitor’s tortious interference claim, the firm has put one of the competitor’s lawsuits to rest.
In this specific action, the competitor alleged tortious interference against the Client for allegedly causing a customer’s retirement plan (“Plan”) to terminate its third-party administrator services agreement with the competitor and for providing the competitor’s “work product” to the Plan without making provisions for the Plan to pay the competitor. During the litigation, the president of the Plan testified that his board terminated the competitor’s services agreement because the board was dissatisfied with the competitor’s level of service.
Based on this testimony, the Client moved for summary judgment on the competitor’s claim for tortious interference. Ultimately, the Court granted the motion for summary judgment because the competitor could not establish that the Client had interfered with the competitor’s business relationship with the Plan. In its order granting the Court’s motion for summary judgment, the Court ruled: “There is no direct evidence that [the Client] advised or took any actions to cause [the Plan] to terminate the [competitor’s] services.” The Court further determined that “[a]ny inferences drawn from statements made by individuals other than [the Client] regarding terminating the relationship with [the competitor] and recommending that [the Plan] not pay the final invoice do not present evidence that would cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for [the competitor].”
The Client intends to move to recover attorney’s fees and costs based upon a statutory proposal for settlement it served in the case and that the competitor declined.
Rabin Kammerer Johson attorneys Adam Rabin, Lauren Johnson, and Andrew Abreu represented the Client together with co-counsel Todd Kurland. Andrew Abreu prepared the prevailing motion for summary judgment.
If you have a matter that involves or might involve a claim in which someone is unjustifiably interfering with your business relationship with another person or entity, contact the attorneys at Rabin Kammerer Johnson at (561) 659-7878.