North Carolina Business Litigation Report

Webb Builders, LLC v. Jones, January 24, 2002 (Tennille)(unpublished)

The Court granted a Motion to Dismiss a claim for slander, ruling that plaintiff had failed to plead the allegedly defamatory statement with sufficient particularity. It held that, although plaintiff was not required to plead the words verbatim, it was required to plead them either substantially as they were said or at least with sufficient particularity to determine whether the statement was defamatory. The Court held that "it would be unduly harsh to require defendants to venture a response to weighty allegations of slander couched only in the most general of terms."

The Court let stand, however, plaintiff's claim for tortious interference with contract against the defendant, who was dissatisfied with the plaintiff homebuilder's work for him. Plaintiff had expressed his displeasure to others for whom the plaintiff was working, which resulted in them terminating their contracts with the plaintiff.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court considered the factors set out in the Restatement (Second) of Torts §767, which include "(a) the nature of the actor's conduct, (b) the actor's motive, (c) the interests of the other with which the actor's conduct interferes, (d) the interests sought to be advanced by the actor, (e) the social interests in protecting the freedom of the actor and the contractual interests of the other, (f) the proximity or remoteness of the actor's conduct to the interference, and (g) the relations between the parties." The Court held that this tort does not require the element of force, or threat, or intimidation, and also that it does not require independently tortious conduct.

Full Opinion

 

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Mack Sperling
Brooks Pierce, LLP
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