Business Torts

Legal Guidance for Chicago Clients in Commercial Litigation Matters

Many social wrongs arise not because of an express agreement but because of certain kinds of interactions. Business torts are often complex and arise out of a commercial relationship. They can result in tangible financial harm, as well as intangible harm to goodwill, reputation, and economic interests. Some common business torts include fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, deceptive business practices, trade libel, defamation, and tortious interference with a contract. At the Voelker Litigation Group, our commercial litigation attorneys offer assistance to clients in Chicago and elsewhere in Cook County who are bringing or fighting these claims.

Common Torts Involving Entities in Illinois

One of the most common business torts is fraud. To prove fraud, you would need to identify a false statement of material fact that was made by a defendant who knew of the falsity. Also, the defendant must have intended to induce the plaintiff to act, the plaintiff must have relied on the statement's truth, and the plaintiff must have suffered damages because it relied on the statement. Fraud can arise in numerous contexts, including securities, real estate, and class actions.

Another common business tort is the intentional or tortious interference with a business contract or prospective economic advantage. This tort is based on the idea that business relationships and advantages have value that should be free from unjustified interference by an outside party. To recover for tortious interference with a contract, you would need to show that there was a valid and enforceable contract between you and another party, the defendant knew of the contractual relationship, and the defendant intentionally and unjustifiably induced a contractual breach. Additional elements of this claim require showing that the breach of the contract was caused by the defendant and that the plaintiff suffered damages.

The tort of tortious interference with prospective economic advantage is similar, but it is alleged when there was no contract between the plaintiff and another party. In order to establish this cause of action in Illinois, you would need to prove:

  • You had a reasonable expectation of entering a business relationship;
  • The defendant knew of this expectation;
  • The defendant intentionally and unjustifiably interfered such that it induced or caused a breach in expectation; and
  • You were harmed because of the interference.

A defamation cause of action can provide protection against an offensive false statement about a business. This requires showing that the defendant made a false statement that was published to a third party, the statement was unprivileged, and it caused you harm. Whether a statement is a fact or opinion will need to be decided based on whether it has a "core of meaning" about which there is a consensus of understanding, whether it is capable of being objectively verified as true or false, and whether its context or setting would influence the reader's readiness to see it as a fact. Truth is a defense to defamation.

Explore Your Options with a Chicago Attorney during a Business Dispute

Often, several business torts are alleged in a lawsuit because the specific facts may not fit solely and squarely within one theory of recovery, and their merits may best be resolved through mediation or adjudicated by a jury. At the Voelker Litigation Group, our trial lawyers provide aggressive legal representation for businesses in the Chicago area and beyond. Call us at 312-870-5430 or contact us via our online form. We also represent clients throughout Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties, including in Berwyn, Hoffman Estates, Napierville, and Joliet. The Voelker Litigation Group even has handled cases outside Illinois, such as in Delaware, Wisconsin, and California.

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