Representing businesses in litigation and pre-litigation disputes
In the course of conducting any type of business, disputes are bound to arise. While many of these disputes may involve claims regarding breach of contract, others may be resolved through certain common law actions collectively known as “business torts.” Among the more important practical distinctions between claims based on contract law and tort claims are the kinds of damages that may be available to plaintiffs. The boundary between tort and contract law claims is not always clear, and in many cases an aggrieved party may be able to bring both, thereby maximizing their opportunity for recovery. Below is some information about business torts that may commonly arise in various industries.
Tortious Interference with Contractual Relationships – Tortious interference claims involve a person or party interferes in some way with another’s contractual relationship. A common example of this tort occurs when one party convinces another to breach their contract with a 3rd party. In this scenario, the 3rd party may be able to sustain a claim to tortious interference.
Breach of Fiduciary Relationships – A fiduciary relationship exists when one party has a duty to act solely in the best interests of the other party. If the fiduciary breaches this duty, the injured party may be able to recover by bringing a claim for breach of fiduciary duty. Common ways that a fiduciary may breach his or her duty include not taking reasonable care, engaged in self-enrichment, misused assets, or prevented access to records or books.
Trade Secret Misappropriation – Trade secret misappropriation is the common law analogue to the statutory intellectual property protections provided by copyrights, trademarks, and patents. California has adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), which creates a private cause of action when a trade secret is used by another party through some improper means. There is also an analogous federal law, and both can be invoked in ex-employee disputes.
Misrepresentation and Fraud – These kinds of claims arise when a person or business makes a written or oral statement that is false or misleading, which induces an action by another resulting in harm. In some cases, omitting pertinent facts can also give rise to a fraud or misrepresentation claim, in some cases as a matter of law/statute.
Deceptive Trade Practices – Deceptive trade practices occur when a business intentionally misleads a client or consumer through an act or omission. Common examples of deceptive trade practices include false advertisements, falsely claiming to be licensed in a particular industry when you are not, and altering the odometer of a motor vehicle to make it appear more valuable. Not only can victims of deceptive trade practices seek relief under tort law, but the state of California may also bring criminal charges against the deceptive party.
Conspiracy – While conspiracy is normally thought of as a criminal matter, conspiracy also exists as a business tort. Civil conspiracy involves two or more parties agreeing to commit some other tort against others. For example, two competitor companies agreeing to fix their prices could conceivably be held liable through a civil conspiracy action.
Contact a San Francisco and Los Angeles business tort lawyer today
If your business has suffered a financial loss due to someone else’s wrongful conduct, or you have been sued or threatened with suit you need a lawyer to handle your business tort claim. Call our office today at (310) 228-6215 or (415) 336-3001 to schedule a consultation with California attorney Nate Kelly.