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White Plains Coat & Apron Co., Inc. v. Cintas Corp.
Court of Appeals of New York
867 N.E.2d 381 (2007)
White Plains Coat & Apron Company, Inc. (White Plains) (plaintiff) had five-year exclusive service contracts with many of its clients. Cintas Corporation (Cintas) (defendant) was a competitor to White Plains and contracted with many of White Plains’s clients during the pendency of the five-year contracts, causing the clients to breach their contracts with White Plains. White Plains sued Cintas for tortious interference with contract in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Cintas claimed that it was unaware of any contractual relationships between White Plains and the clients. The district court granted Cintas’s motion for summary judgment. The court found, among other things, that Cintas had a legitimate interest as a competitor in soliciting business and making a profit, and thus was entitled to the economic interest defense to White Plains’s tortious interference claim. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit certified a question to the Court of Appeals of New York on whether a generalized economic interest in soliciting business is a defense to a claim of tortious interference with an existing contract for an alleged tortfeasor who has no previous economic relationship with the breaching party.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)
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