Cases Dealing With Tortious Interference With Contracts
In Browning-Ferris, Inc. v. Reyna, 865 S.W.2d 925, 927 (Tex. 1993), the supreme court held that a willful act involves more than participation with a breaching party:
This testimony implies that BFI may have been a willing participant; it does not establish that BFI . . . was engaged in any improper conduct.
Standing alone, it does not show that this contact involved "knowing inducement" or other intentional interference by BFI as required to establish a cause of action in Texas for tortious interference. 865 S.W.2d at 927 (finding no evidence of an essential element of tortious interference with contract).
In Davis v. HydPro, Inc., 839 S.W.2d 137 (Tex. App.--Eastland 1992, writ denied), the court of appeals reversed a jury verdict awarding damages for tortious interference with contractual relations on similar grounds:
A necessary element of the plaintiff's cause of action is a showing that the defendant took an active part in persuading a party to a contract to breach it.
Merely entering into a contract with a party with the knowledge of that party's contractual obligations to someone else is not the same as inducing a breach.
It is necessary that there be some act of interference or of persuading a party to breach, for example by offering better terms or other incentives, for tort liability to arise. 839 S.W.2d at 139 (quoting Texaco, Inc. v. Pennzoil Co., 729 S.W.2d 768, 803 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1987, writ ref'd n.r.e.), cert. dism'd, 485 U.S. 994, 108 S. Ct. 1305, 99 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1988));
See also Arabesque Studios, Inc. v. Academy of Fine Arts Int'l Inc., 529 S.W.2d 564, 568 (Tex. Civ. App.--Dallas 1975, no writ) (plaintiff must show that defendant caused the interference; it is not enough that defendant reaped advantage of a contract broken by the breaching party's own volition).
Other states have expressed the same need for some evidence of "knowing inducement."
In a case involving this same product, a federal court in New York dismissed Paul Mitchell's claim for tortious interference with its distribution contracts:
As the defendants point out, the plaintiffs' contention, when stripped of its conjectural allegations . . . is that the defendants should be held liable for tortious inducement because they purchased Paul Mitchell Products while knowing that such products would not have been obtainable unless, presumably, someone along the [Paul Mitchell] distribution network had breached his, her or its contract with [Paul Mitchell] . . . . the plaintiff's claim fails to show "inducement" of the alleged breach. John Paul Mitchell Sys. v. Pete-N-Larry's, Inc., 862 F. Supp. 1020, 1029 (W.D. N.Y. 1994) (citing Restatement (Second) of Torts 766 cmt. n (1979) for the proposition that mere making of agreement by third party with knowledge of inevitable breach of contract by other party does not constitute actionable inducement);
See also Texaco, 729 S.W.2d at 803 (considering tortious interference with contract under New York law).