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AMI404Interference with Contractual Relationship or Business Expectancy—Definition—Impropriety

Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil

Ark. Model Jury Instr., Civil AMI 404
Arkansas Model Jury Instructions-Civil
November 2020 Update
Arkansas Supreme Court Committee On Jury Instructions-Civil
Chapter 4. Intentional Torts and Defamation
AMI 404 Interference with Contractual Relationship or Business Expectancy—Definition—Impropriety
(Plaintiff) contends that (defendant)'s conduct was improper because [describe succinctly the nature of conduct at issue]. In determining whether (plaintiff) has met [his][her][its] burden to prove the conduct was improper, you may consider the following factors:
(a) the nature of the conduct;
(b) the (defendant)'s motive;
(c) the interest of (plaintiff) with which the conduct interfered;
(d) the interest sought to be advanced by
(defendant);
(e) the social interests in protecting the freedom of action of (defendant) and the contractual interests of (plaintiff);
(f) the proximity or remoteness of the (defendant)'s conduct to the interference; and
(g) the relations between the parties.
NOTE ON USE
Use this instruction when AMI 403 is given.
COMMENT
The Committee recognizes the difficulty in defining the term “improper.” This instruction states the only standard identified in the case requiring the inclusion of “improper” as an essential element of the cause of action, Mason v. Wal–Mart Stores, Inc., 333 Ark. 3, 14, 969 S.W.2d 160, 165 (1998), which quoted with approval Restatement (Second) of Torts § 767 (1977). For a discussion of specific applications of the factors set out in § 767, see Restatement (Second) of Torts §§ 768 to 773 (1965).
The Comment to this section of the Restatement characterizes the nature of the tortfeasor's conduct as involving the threats of physical violence, fraudulent misrepresentation, threat of wrongful prosecution (civil or criminal), conduct independently unlawful, offensive economic pressure, or violation of recognized ethical codes or established business customs. In Baptist Health v. Murphy, 2010 Ark. 358, at 15–16, 373 S.W.3d 269, 282, the court added consideration of the social interests in protecting the contractual interests of the plaintiff as the fifth factor to be considered in determining whether the interference was improper. See also Fisher v. Jones, 311 Ark. 450, 459, 844 S.W.2d 954, 959 (1993) (quoting favorably Restatement (Second) of Torts § 769, regarding the effect of the actor's financial interest in the business of the person induced).
In K.C. Props. of N.W. Ark., Inc. v. Lowell Inv. Partners, LLC, 373 Ark. 14, 280 S.W.3d 1 (2008), summary judgment was affirmed on this claim because the facts relied on did not establish that any interference was improper. In Murphy, 2010 Ark. 358, at 25–27, 373 S.W.3d at 286–87, the Court affirmed as not clearly erroneous the trial court's finding that the interference was improper based on its analysis of these factors.
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