Non-compete Agreement Could Be Used in a Claim for Tortious Interference

Tortious interference can arise in all sorts of situations and sour business dealings. For example, it often arises in cases where one company hires a valued employee away from another company. If the employee had a non-compete agreement with the first company that will be violated by the employee changing jobs, and the second company knew about that non-compete agreement, the old company may have a claim against the second company for tortiously interfering with its contractual relationship with its employee.

For a jury to sort through these issues in a court, the court provides the jury with a set of instructions, called "jury instructions", to help them decide the issue. The jury instructions explain the issues in the case and serve as an outline for the jury to follow when making its decision. Here is the published civil jury instruction in Virginia state court for tortious interference:

Wrongful or Tortious Interference with Contract Not Terminable at Will: Finding Instruction

You shall find your verdict for the plaintiff if he proved by the greater weight of the evidence:

(1) that there was a business expectancy or a valid contractual relationship between the plaintiff and (name of third party); and

(2) that the defendant knew of this business expectancy or contractual relationship; and

(3) that the defendant intentionally interfered and caused the [breach; termination] of the expectancy or relationship; and

(4) that the plaintiff was damaged by the [breach; termination].

You shall find your verdict for the defendant if: (1) the plaintiff failed to prove any one or more of these elements; or (2) the defendant proved by the greater weight of the evidence that the interference was justified, privileged, or not improper.

Kevin W. Mottley
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Richmond, VA trial lawyer dedicated to handling brain injuries, car accidents and other serious injury claims