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Texas Tortious Interference with Existing Contract

The elements of tortious interference with an existing contract are: 1) an existing contract subject to interference; 2) a willful and intentional act of interference with the contract; 3) that proximately caused the plaintiff's injury; and 4) caused actual damages or loss. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Fin. Review Servs., Inc., 29 S.W.3d 74, 77 (Tex. 2000). To prevail on this claim, a plaintiff must present evidence that the defendant interfered with a specific contract. Funes v. Villatoro, 352 S.W.3d 200, 213 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, pet. denied). To establish the element of a willful and intentional act of interference, a plaintiff must produce some evidence that the defendant was more than a willing participant and knowingly induced one of the contracting parties to breach its obligations under a contract. Id. Accordingly, the plaintiff must present evidence that some obligatory provision of a contract has been breached. Id.

Justification is an affirmative defense to tortious interference with contract and tortious interference with prospective business relations.  The Prudential, 29 S.W.3d at 78.   The justification defense can be based on the exercise of either 1) one's own legal rights or 2) a good-faith claim to a colorable legal right, even though that claim ultimately proves to be mistaken.  Id. at 80 (citing Texas Beef Cattle Co. v. Green, 921 S.W.2d 203, 211 (Tex. 1996)).   If a trial court finds as a matter of law that the defendant had a legal right to interfere with a contract, the defendant has conclusively established the justification defense, and the motive is irrelevant. Id.  Alternatively, if the defendant cannot prove justification as a matter of law, it can still establish the defense if the trial court determines that the defendant interfered while exercising a colorable right, and the jury finds that, although mistaken, the defendant exercised that colorable right in good faith. Id.