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You may have heard of business torts, but what are they?

As you run your business, there could come a time when you discover that someone else's actions, intentional or otherwise, cause your company to lose money. If those actions fall under the umbrella of "business torts," you may seek monetary and non-monetary damages in a Florida civil court. Sometimes, the actions taken fall under criminal law as well, but in the majority of the cases, they remain the purview of the civil courts.

So, what kind of actions does the law consider business torts? In broad terms, any activities that tarnish your public reputation, inhibit your company's ability to participate in its marketplace or damage your existing, and potential future, business relationships could be considered business torts.

Some actions occur more often than others

As you can see, the broad definition could include any number of acts, but the most common categories of business torts include the following:

  • Trade secret theft: If someone illegally obtains your company's proprietary information, he or she may have committed trade secret theft. This is often done in order to gain some sort of competitive advantage over your company.
  • Tortious interference: If someone intentionally interferes with a business relationship (usually a contract) that your company has with another party, it may constitute tortious interference. You must suffer some sort of economic losses as a result of that interference.
  • Fraudulent misrepresentation: If someone misrepresented his or her position to your company when you entered into an agreement, fraudulent misrepresentation may have occurred.
  • Trade restraint: If someone's actions keep you from conducting your usual operations in some way, it could constitute restraint of trade. The action does not necessarily have to be against you in particular to fall under this category.

It's important to remember that in order to prevail in a business tort claim you must show some financial loss.

Some actions you can take

Document everything! Keeping good records of someone else's actions and the losses incurred due to them could help move your case along. Of course, you will need to determine whether your losses were due to a business tort. You may want to know that the other party's actions do not necessarily have to include intent. In some cases, proving negligence or recklessness is enough.

The other challenge may be determining your losses. The court will want specifics. In addition, a non-monetary award may suit your situation better. For instance, in addition to economic damages, you may request an injunction that orders the other party to cease the activities damaging your business. You may need to seek out the appropriate legal resources in order to better understand what you need in order to make your case before the court and to improve your chances of success.

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Barker Cook

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Tampa, FL 33602

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