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Tortious Interference of Contract

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by Ken Del Signore, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Illinois
    Hello,
    I have a SOX/FCA whistleblower suit against a large corporation for blacklisting and termination. The suit just survived the MTD for events that occurred after May 2018.

    The ruling on SOX/FCA standing was based on specific reporting details of my case. The underlying crime has been occurring for over 10 years and I was harmed during this time, but I was not aware of the true nature of the underlying crime until 2018, at which time I reported it internally and externally.

    While waiting for the MTD ruling, I was advised that I can amend to complaint to add standing against the individual managers under SOX, FCA, and Tortuous Interference.

    The Interference claims arise from events that predate May 2018, so it seems to me that I cannot claim standing under SOX and FCA against the managers before May 2018, But can I still claim standing for the tortious interference that occurred before 2018? The managers acts were tortious, it's just that I don't have standing to charge them for the underlying tortious act.

    My thinking is if I can name the managers as defendants, then I can compel their testimony in exchange for a release of claims, otherwise everybody is just going ha amnesia.
    thanks!
    Ken
     
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Do you have an attorney?
     
  3. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    no. I have called at least 50 over the last couple years. The defendants are powerful and the fraud is alleged to be on the order of $100 million dollars per month that goes to the telecom industry and the two central FEC committees of the RNC and DNC. I think this has prevented law firms from wanting to take this case.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Well, that addresses my comment on the other site.
     
  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I've not read the pleadings in the case, and that would be necessary to answer that question. It also does matter in what court the case is litigated: is it federal district court in Illinois, Illinois state court, or some other court?

    And what contract was the subject of the tortious interference? Was it a contract between you and the defendant corporation?


    If the managers are still employed at the corporation then I think it unlikely that this will get you the outcome you seek.
     
  6. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for the reply and info. Sorry, it's N. Il Federal District Court.

    In terms of the contract, there is a sequence of employment related claims that are similar. One is that a manager at a prestigious second corporation, that is a non-compete to the corp. I am suing, obtained the LinkedIn login credentials of a recruiter employed by the second corporation, and then logged into that recruiters account on April Fools Day, 2016, and sent me a gushing job offer. I had previously applied to the second corporation and interacted with another recruiter there. So the implied contract is the a potential job through the recruiters, and I can claim that the manager has interfered with that contract for the acts that are tortious acts under SOX and FCA.

    So I am wondering if the defense can say that because I can't claim standing for the 2016 harassment under SOX, that I cannot therefore claim standing for Tortious Interference.

    A second event was that my manager told me to prepare a talk on my work for a special meeting, then when I started to give the talk he began making rude and derogatory remarks, which cause me to end my talk. It was a very bizarre public occurrence. I did not understand his purpose at the time, but now I believe he was trying to goad me into making a public insubordinate response which could have been used as a pretext to fire me. He did this in front of my co-workers, so my claim is that this marked me my co-workers and also internally at the company and prevented me from future internal job opportunities.

    the case is N. Il. 1:20-cv-04019, thanks
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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  8. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    my bad
     

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  9. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    ruling on MTD, issued the day after I submitted the motion for leave to file amended complaint
     

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  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    It might be time for you to do as Judge Alonso suggests BEFORE filing any more motions.

    I know attorneys that struggle properly draft and file motions or argue same before a federal court. Federal courts can be difficult for experienced attorneys, much less pro se litigants.

    In my humble opinion, it might be time for you to consider moving on with your life and seeking the next great opportunity that awaits you.

    I wish you all the best, mate.




    Finally, the Court observes that, just as it finished preparing this Order, plaintiff submitted a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Based on a cursory review, it appears that the proposed amended complaint is inconsistent with the terms of this Order in some respects.

    For example, it asserts a claim under the CFPA, and it appears to dwell on certain pre-2018 conduct that may have limited relevance, if any, to plaintiffs’ claims, given the claims’ limited scope as explained above. The Court denies the motion, without prejudice to refiling after plaintiff has had an opportunity to read and digest this Order and prepare an amended complaint that is consistent with the present ruling and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court reminds plaintiff that Rule 8 requires a “short and plain statement of the claim.” In keeping with that rule, plaintiff’s complaint should focus concisely on the facts necessary to present and support his claims, while leaving out extraneous and irrelevant matters, so that defendant knows how to answer the complaint.

    See Stanard v. Nygren, 658 F.3d 792, 800 (7th Cir. 2011) (“‘Rule 8(a) requires parties to make their pleadings straightforward, so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.’”) (quoting United States ex rel. Garst v. Lockheed-Martin Corp., 328 F.3d 374, 378 (7th Cir. 2003); see also Stagman v. Evans, No. 16 C 6043, 2017 WL 1105491, at *3 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 24, 2017) (citing Stanard and Garst).
    SO ORDERED. ENTERED: January 27, 2021
    ______________________
    HON. JORGE ALONSO
    United States District Judge
     
  11. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    This isn't very clear to me. But you seem to be saying that, just using made up names here for clarity, that Adam, a manager at Z Corp, used the LinkedIn login credentials of a recruiter that Z corp uses to send you a fake job offer on April Fool's Day, presumeably as a joke. However, you work at a different company, N Corp, and N Corp is the one that you are suing on the retaliation claim. And now you want to add Adam as a party to the case on a claim of tortious interference with contractual relations as a result of the prank? Have I got that right?

    As Army Judge rightly says, litigation in federal court can be complex and difficult. It can be especially daunting for a non lawyer litigating a case pro se. If I have the basic facts of event number 1 above correctly, then you have several problems that I see, though standing isn't one of them. You may not know it but standing has a particular meaning in federal civil court litigation. While you say the court dismissed the pre 2018 claims for standing, that is not what occurred. The court dismissed those earlier claims because the facts you provided didn't support any valid legal claim. The claim in your lawsuit, boiling it down to one sentence, is that that your employer retaliated against you for reporting what you claim are acts of fraud committed by the the employer. The problem was that you didn't realize any fraud was taking place until 2018. As a result, before 2018 you could not have done anything about reporting the fraud and the company could not have retaliated against you for reporting the fraud. Those pre 2018 facts just did not lay out a good claim of retaliation.

    The dismissal tossing the parts of the complaint prior to 2018 based on failure to state a claim would not preclude you from amending the complaint to add the tortious interference claims. But while that ruling doesn't stop you, you do have other problems with doing that.

    The first is that your tortious interference claim for event 1 is not against your current defendant, N Corp. It is apparently against Adam. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. As the plaintiff, you have to indentify what provides the federal courts with jurisdiction over the tortious interference claim. The Tortious Interference claim is a state law cause of action against someone (Adam) other than the federal government. As a result, the only way the federal courts would have jurisdiction over that claim is if you and Adam are citizens of different states under what is called diversity jurisdiction. In addition to the citizenship requirement, you'd have to show your damages from the case would exceed $75,000. And even if you can meet the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, joining that tortious interference claim with your retaliation case against N Corp would be a problem because I cannot see any real connection between the two claims.

    The second problem is that if the events you wish to use for that tortious interference claim took place more than 5 years ago you are likely going to be barred from pursuing it now because in IL the statute of limitation on a tortious interference claim is 5 years.

    And third, as I understand your claim, I don't see where there is any tortious interference with any contractual relationship you had. The Illinois courts have set out the following requirements for the tort as follows:

    The elements of tortious interference with contractual business relationships are: “(1) the existence of a valid and enforceable contract between the plaintiff and another; (2) the defendant's awareness of this contractual relation; (3) the defendant's intentional and unjustified inducement of a breach of the contract; (4) a subsequent breach by the other, caused by the defendant's wrongful conduct; and (5) damages.”

    Tagco USA, Inc. v. Trend Glob. LLC, 2020 IL App (1st) 181318-U, ¶ 60. So what was the valid and enforceable contract that you had and how did Adam's prank cause the other party to the contract to breach the contract? And further, can you prove that Adam intended to induce that other party to breach the contract by engaging in that prank?


    Making you look bad in front of your co-workers to damage your chances at promotion or to try to trip you up to make mistake so he could fire you is not an instance of tortious interference. It did not cause anyone to breach any contract they had with you. Corporate politics has this kind of thing going on all the time in some companies and while unfortunate is not illegal or give rise to any legal claim. And even if you had a claim, you again run into the problem of (1) showing that that federal district court would have jurisdiction to hear it and (2) showing that it is sufficiently related to the retaliation case agaist Corp N such that it ought to be joined with your case against Corp N.

    I can't say that there isn't any way to make it work. I don't have all the facts and you've not explained the tortious interference claim all that clearly. But if there is a way to make it work and join it with your current case against N Corp I think you'll need the help of an attorney who litigates in federal court to do it. I've seen lots of pro se litigants struggle in federal court, and your situation shows signs of those same kinds of struggles. That does not bode well for you when going up against a big corporation that has good experienced lawyers representing it.
     
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  12. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks Army Judge and Tax Counsel

    Army,
    I beginning to think the same way, that Judge Alonso is telling me to prosecute the corporation for events in 2018 and after under SOX and FCA.

    I have additional tortious interference claims post 2018, so I will be amending the complaint within the five weeks allowed by Judge Alonso's ruling.

    Tax,
    " joining that tortious interference claim with your retaliation case against N Corp would be a problem because I cannot see any real connection between the two claims."

    - I've got the diversity jurisdiction. The claims are 100% related. The Defendant is a VP at a US owned telecom corporation that does secret security work for the US government. My former employer is in a non-compete industry with the US government owned telecom corporation, and the VP works closely with senior managers at my former company. There are also many employees that have moved up to the government corporation from mine.

    thanks very much for the input!
     
  13. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    So that VP is a citizen of a different state and you have a good basis to claim your damages would exceed $75,000 if the suit was successful?

    I still don't see how the prank offer amounts to tortious interference given elements required that I gave you from Illinois case law.

    I think you don't understand what's needed here. The fact that the VP works for a US government owned entity that has a relationship with the former employer you are suing does not make the two the claims related. That is, the fact that the two defendants are somehow related does not make the claims you are bringing related.

    In one suit, you are suing N Corp (your employer) on a claim of illegal retaliation for reporting fraud committed by the employer. In the proposed suit against this VP, who is not an employee of N Corp, you want to sue for tortious interference with some contract (and what contract was interfered with is far from clear). Those are two very distinctly different claims: they involve different defendants and different legal claims, and thus the evidence needed to prove the two cases will be very much different. There really isn't any connection or overlap between the two claims that I can see and thus no basis for the court to allow you to join the two together. The fact that the VP works for an entity that has a relationship with your employer isn't good enough to make the claims related.
     
  14. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    thanks very much for the guidance gents!

    I've got a lot of material to work with post 2018 in this case. I'm going to focus on that. I think I have their internal Counsel in a pretty serious professional bind as described in the attached motion from today.

    The corporation's Senior Counsel lost her job over the phone call described. Then I think whoever took over found evidence that she had falsified, and submitted it in a MTD in the action that preceded the this one.
     

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  15. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I think you'll find that the motion is likely to be denied. You've not set forth in your motion any law or court rule that entitles you to the information you seek. Did you ask the defendant for this information in a formal discovery request (which is the proper way to ask for such information from a defendant)? If so, you should have stated the details of the discovery request and the details of the defendant's response, and the motion you'd be filing would be a motion to compel the discovery.

    What you've done is provided a motion asking the court to order that the information be turned over without any context as to why that information applies to the litigation between you and the defendant and without any explanation of why you are legally entitled to get it. There's not much the court can do with that.
     
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  16. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The way I read it is that the OP wants the court to force the other party to turn something over to another party to the case, whom he is also suing. In essence, he wants the court to force them to pass a note to the other party on his behalf.
     
  17. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The Judge had placed a stay on discovery, which was lifted by his MTD ruling on Jan 27th.

    I was given guidance from an Attorney in my local Federal District Court's pro-se assistance program is that I should not directly contacting employees of the company I am suing.

    My first compliant charged only the corporation. The amended complaint will add charges to individual employees.

    The phone call described in the filing is a key act of discrimination under SOX, and I think I can also charge the nurse for Tortious Interference (if the call log is accurate) which seems highly unlikely. So to avoid charging the nurse, I want to compel the Defendants to deliver the pre-litigation communication.
    thanks


    TaxCounsel,
    The tortious interference with contract charge for the April Fools Day joke is that the VP interfered with my future contractual relations with the recruiters.

    In terms of the two meetings where a manager anonymously tried to goad me into and act of insubordination in front of my co-workers, The interference is with my co-workers. I will argue that a high percentage of new jobs at any company are acquired through an internal contact within the company. By anomalously marking me to my colleagues, the Defendants have therefore greatly reduced the chances of my former colleagues recommending me for a future job opportunity.

    thanks for input!
     
  18. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The phrase "abuse of process" is creeping in to my mind...
     
  19. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Well, it would be with the prospective employment of the company they recruited for. But to make that case, you have to prove that there was an existing relationship there and that the prospect of getting a job was real and not merely speculative. That's going to be very hard to do unless there was a job offer in the works that was derailed by the joke. You also have to prove that the defendant knew of that prospect and that that he intended to interfere with it. For a mere joke, those things are also going to be hard to prove.

    You'll have similar issues with the meeting in which the manager allegedly undermined you. Again, the prospects for promotion had to be more than speculative, e.g. a promotion was in the works, etc., and his undermining of you had to actually interfere with that, and he had to have known about that prospect and intended to interfere with it.

    As the plaintiff, you must prove all of that, including the intent, with supporting evidence. Mere supposition of intent, for example, isn't enough. That's why you don't see very many of these cases brought.
     
  20. Ken Del Signore

    Ken Del Signore Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello Gents,
    Greatly appreciate the input. Motion to compel denied, but I'm not sure if I understand the Magistrate Judge's intent with the sentence "However, ..."

    MINUTE entry before the Honorable Young B. Kim: Plaintiff's motion to compel [41] is denied without prejudice. No appearance is necessary to present this motion on February 9, 2021. The court will not force Defendant to provide any information at this time. However, nothing prevents Defendant from communicating with Plaintiff for purposes of exchanging information informally. As stated, the court will issue a follow-up order once an answer is filed, setting a schedule for written discovery. Mailed notice (ma,)

    -is he saying that I can contact the new potential Defendant directly?

    More generally, I am now in Discovery against a large Corporation. Can I contact their employees directly? If so then my motion to compel was unneeded...

    thanks



    TaxCounsel, I believe I meet all of those requirements for Tortious interference. Your input is very valuable to cause me to flesh out these details, thanks
     

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