Business Torts

A competitor hires away your key employee, who takes your client list to her new employer, and tries to recruit your other employees to go with her.

Someone posts false and disparaging comments about your business on the internet, causing you to lose customers.

A company that owes you a big debt transfers its assets to its insiders, to prevent you from collecting on a judgment.

Another company falsely represents that you were the source of its inferior and defective product.

BLF has represented many businesses and individuals in cases involving “business torts” like these.

“Business torts” include claims for unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with contractual relations, conversion of property and other tort causes of action. Unfair competition claims may be based on various deceitful or fraudulent business practices, including falsely disparaging another business, false advertising, and similar acts. Misappropriation of trade secrets can occur when a business’s customer lists, proprietary formulas or methods, or other protected valuable information is taken without the business’ consent. Using false statements to intentionally interfere with someone else’s contract can give rise to a claim for tortious interference with contractual relations. Conversion is another word for stealing.

BLF’s business tort litigation practice demonstrates our creative approach to solving our clients’ problems – when the problem could not be solved using the established rules, we worked to expand and redefine the rules:

  • We successfully litigated a case in which another business demanded, as the cost of doing business, that our client exclusively deal with another particular company in a different part of its business. We established that the coercive use of market power in one market, to require patronage in a separate market, is a tortious interference with contractual relations, even where it does not rise to the level of an antitrust violation. The principle established in this case was a matter of first impression under Pennsylvania law.
  • We prevailed on appeal in a case in which our client was sued for tortious interference for providing truthful information about a broker’s fees to their mutual client, who fired the broker as a result of the disclosure. We successfully established that a truthful statement, even if made with intent to harm, does not constitute tortious interference with contractual relations. The principle established in this case was also a matter of first impression in Pennsylvania.
  • We attained a substantial victory for our clients, two law professors, in their defamation case against a legal publisher. The case arose out of false representations by the publisher that the professors were the authors of certain substandard publications. After a trial, a federal jury awarded each of the two professors $90,000 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. The district court reduced the punitive damages awarded and the case settled shortly afterwards.
  • We represented a major bank that brought claims of unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, tortious interference with contractual relations and conspiracy to commit these wrongs against a competitor and two of the client’s former employees who spearheaded a mass defection to the competitor. The case settled on the eve of trial.
  • We successfully defended surety consulting companies and their principals against claims for tortious interference with construction contracts. The case was won on a motion for summary judgment in which BLF convinced the court that, despite extensive discovery, plaintiff had not been able to marshal any evidence to support its claims against the clients.

Representative cases:

Impala Platinum Holdings Limited and Impala Refining Services Limited v. A-1 Specialty Services and Supplies, Inc., et al., (E.D. Pa. 2017). In this fraudulent transfer action, BLF obtained a $16 million jury verdict against the shareholder/officers of a closely-held corporation and its landlord. ... Read More

PNC v. Fifth Third Bank, et al. (N.D. IL, W. Div. 2014). BLF represented a financial institution asserting claims against former employees for breach of restrictive covenant and misappropriation of trade secrets. ... Read More

PNC Bank v. Superior Mortgage, et al. (E.D. Pa. 2012). In this misappropriation of trade secrets matter, BLF quickly obtained a Consent Order that required defendants to return all the misappropriated information. ... Read More

David Rudovsky and Leonard Sosnov v. West Publishing Corp. (E.D. Pa. 2011). In this defamation case, BLF obtained a total damages award of $5.18 million for our clients, after a legal publisher falsely represented they had authored substandard publications. ... Read More

Walnut Street Associates v. Brokerage Concepts (Pa. Supreme Ct. 2011). In a case of first impression, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that truthful statements, even if made with intent to harm, cannot support a claim of tortious interference with contract. ... Read More

Leslie-Hughes v. McSweeney, (E.D. Pa. 2008). In this defamation case, BLF proved that our client was not the author of anonymous defamatory emails, and the action was dismissed. ... Read More

Cameron v. Monkey Joe's Big Nut Co. (N.J. Superior Ct. 2008). BLF won summary judgment to defeat this state court class action which claimed false advertising against a nut wholesaler. ... Read More

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