What are the elements of a tortious interference claim in Oklahoma?

You might have heard or seen recently that Bob Bowlsby, the President of the Big 12 Conference accused ESPN, its TV partner, of tortious interference.  Mr. Bowlsby’s claim came out of the University of Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 Conference for the greener cash pastures of the Southeastern Conference.

The tortious interference claim raises an interesting question: No, not why is Mr. Bowlsby invoking French pastry to express his anger.  Instead, the interesting question is what is a claim for tortious interference in Oklahoma?

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has said that generally “[o[ne has the right to prosecute a lawful business without unlawful molestation or unjustified interference from any person, and any malicious interference with that business is an unlawful act and an actionable wrong.  To win any legal claim, the party bringing the claim must prove all of its elements.  The elements of a claim for tortious interference are:  

1) interference with a business or contractual right;  

2) malicious and wrongful interference that is neither justified, privileged, nor excusable;  and

3) damage proximately sustained as a result of the interference.

In defining the element of “malice”, the Court has said “[t]he element of malice, for malicious interference, is defined as an unreasonable and wrongful act done intentionally, without just cause or excuse.  [Authority]

 

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Cazes Roberts, PLLC in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with wife Amy and my two children, Sam (17) and David (9). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."