Virginia recognizes claims for both tortious interference with existing contracts and tortious interference with prospective, anticipated contracts, known as business expectancies. If your business is counting on winning a major contract but then the work suddenly goes to a competitor instead, it may be natural to wonder whether the competitor won the business fairly or through unfair competition or other improper methods. The success of a tortious interference claim based on some unrealized economic benefit anticipated in the future depends heavily on the certainty with which that benefit was expected. There is no claim for tortiously interfering with one’s dreams and aspirations.
The first element of a tortious interference claim is showing “the existence of a business relationship or expectancy, with a probability of future economic benefit to plaintiff.” (See Am. Chiropractic v. Trigon Healthcare, 367 F.3d 212, 228 (4th Cir. 2004)). A mere possibility of future economic benefit is insufficient. A recent case out of the Norfolk Division of the Eastern District of Virginia provides a good example.