47-50-109. Inducement of breach of contract; damages
It is unlawful for any person, by inducement, persuasion, misrepresentation, or other means, to induce or procure the breach or violation, refusal or failure to perform any lawful contract by any party thereto; and, in every case where a breach or violation of such contract is so procured, the person so procuring or inducing the same shall be liable in treble the amount of damages resulting from or incident to the breach of the contract. The party injured by such breach may bring suit for the breach and for such damages.
1907 Statute – Cited over 250 times
Must determine if a valid and enforceable lawful Contract is in existence.
The seven elements necessary to establish liability under the common law for interference in the performance or procurement of the breach of a contract are the same seven elements set forth in Dynamic Motel Management, Inc. v. Erwin, 528 S.W.2d 819, 822. These elements are:
- There must be a legal contract.
- The wrongdoer must have knowledge of the existence of the contract.
- There must be an intention to induce its breach.
- The wrongdoer must have acted maliciously.
- There must be a breach of the contract.
- The act complained of must be the proximate cause of the breach of the contract.
- There must have been damages resulting from the breach of the contract.
528 S.W.2d 819, 822.
These seven elements in Dynamic Motel were copied from the common law elements asserted in 45 Am.Jur.2d Interference §§ 3-7, 11 (1999). The burden of proof necessary to establish the common law action for compensatory damages is a preponderance of the evidence standard as to these seven elements and the jury should be so charged.
Secondly, the jury should be charged under Tennessee Code Annotated section 47-50-109 as to these same seven elements but the burden of proof necessary to establish these elements under the trebling statute should be “clear and convincing evidence.” Emmco Ins. Co. v. Beacon Mut. Indem. Co., 204 Tenn. 540, 322 S.W.2d 226; Lichter v. Fulcher, 22 Tenn.App. 670, 125 S.W.2d 501, 508. Upon a finding by the jury of all seven of the Dynamic Motel factors by a clear and convincing evidence standard, treble (multiple) damages are automatic. (Emphasis added.)
Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc. 13 S.W.3d 343, 359 -360 (Tenn.Ct.App.,1999)