Architect and Interior Designer Liable for Tortious Interference with Contract Where General Contractor was Terminated on Their Recommendation

DiMaria Constr., Inc. v. Interarch, 799 A.2d 555, 351 N.J. Super 558 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001)

In this case, the general architect and interior designer on a construction project recommended that the owner terminate the general contractor.  The owner, on this advice, terminated the contractor who subsequently filed suit against the architect and interior designer for tortious interference with contract.  In analyzing the claims, the court looked at the four elements of the tort of interference with a business relation or contract:  (1) a protected interest; (2) malice in the sense that the defendant interfered without justification; (3) a reasonable likelihood that the interference caused the loss of the prospective gain; and (4) resulting damages.  The court found that the architect and interior designer were liable for tortious interference.  The court also addressed whether they were acting as agents of the owner and therefore escaped liability.  The court found that question to be a factual issue that was implicitly answered in the affirmative in the jury’s finding of liability.

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