This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
In jurisdictions in which a party who induces another to break a contract is liable to the adversary party, his liability is still clearer if instead of inducing the breach, he does some wrongful act which makes performance impossible.1 A had a contract with a railroad corporation, B, to construct a line of railroad, and was engaged in performing the contract. X, a rival company, bribed the officers of B to transfer to X all the stock of B, or put it under the control of X, and thus caused the general manager of B to withdraw the engineers of B from the work, without whom it could not proceed, and to give notices which caused A's tools and supplies to be seized and his workmen to be dispersed. A sued X, and it was held, on demurrer to A's petition, that he had stated a cause of action.2 A, a real estate broker, effected a contract for the sale of realty between B, the vendor, and X, the vendee, under a contract whereby A was to look to B for his commission. X refused to perform and made it impossible for B to perform the contract to sell the realty, and thus deprived A of his commission. It was held that A could maintain an action against X for the damages thus caused.3 If X has interfered with B, who is A's tenant, so as to prevent B from performing the contract of lease into which he has entered with A, A may recover damages from B.4 In some jurisdictions it is made a wrongful act to induce tenants to abandon their leases.5 No liability exists under such statute, however, unless it can be shown that the party against whom the action was brought caused the breach of contract or took advantage thereof.6 If the statute makes such act a crime as well as a wrongful act, it is not necessary that the party against whom such action is brought shall be first convicted of the crime.7 If B has entered into a contract to deliver certain property to A, and X prevents B from performing by inducing B's employe to quit his employment, A may recover from X.8
6 Leonard v. Whetstone, 34 Ind. App. 383, 68 N. E. 197. For an action of slander in a somewhat similar case under a contract to bequeath property, see May v. Wood, 172 Mass. 11, 51 N. E. 191.
7 Raycroft v. Tayntor, 68 Vt. 219, 54 Am. St. Rep. 882, 33 L. R. A. 225, 35 Atl 53.
8Glencoe, etc., Co. v. Commission Co., 138 Mo. 439, 60 Am. St. Rep. 560, 36 L. R. A. 804, 40 S. W. 93.
9 Swain v. Johnson, 151 N. Car. 93, 28 L. R. A. (N.S.) 615. 65 S. E. 619.
1 Angle v. Ry., 151 U. S. 1, 38 L. ed. 55; Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 1918D, 389, 78 So. 261; Twitchell v. Glenwood-Inglewood Co., 131 Minn. 375, 155 N. W. 621.
In some jurisdictions, however, the right of the injured party to recover from the party outside the contract, who has made performance impossible by some wrongful act, is denied.9 A had a contract to furnish B with electricity by means of B's wire, under a contract by which A was not to be liable in case of interruption of the current without A's fault. X cut the wire. It was held that B could not maintain an action against X for the damage caused by interruption of the current.10 It will be observed that this theory results in freeing X from all liability for the real injury done by his wrongful act, and in denying to B the right to recover from any one - a result which tends to show some error in the process whereby it was reached.
2 "If the Omaha company had by its wrongful conduct simply induced the Portage company to break its contract with Angle, it would have been liable to him for the damages sustained thereby. A fortiori when it not only induces a breach of the contract by the Portage company, but also disables it from performance." Angle v. Ry., 151 U. S. 1, 15, 38 L. ed. 55.
3Livermore v. Crane, 26 Wash. 529, 57 L. R. A. 401, 67 Pac. 221.
4 Sandlin v. Coyle, 143 La. 121, L. R. A. 1918D, 389, 78 So. 261; Twitchell v. Glenwood-Inglewood Co., 131 Minn. 375, 155 N. W. 621.
5Sunnyside Co. v. Read, 71 Ark. 59, 70 S. W. 462.
6 Sunny side Co. v. Read, 71 Ark. 59, 70 S. W. 462; Sneed v. Oilman (Miss.), 44 So. 830.
7 Wheeler v. Pannell, 96 Miss. 382, 51 So. 598.
8Mealey v. Bemidji Lumber Co., 118 Minn. 427, 136 N. W. 1090.
Where A had agreed to support B and X by its negligence disabled A, and made it practically impossible for him to perform, it was held that B had no cause of action against X.11 A, the owner of certain realty, leased it to B. X entered and built a fence thereon, as a result of which B left and did not pay any rent. It was held that in the absence of fraud, A had no right of action against X.12 If A has entered into a contract with B to cut B's timber, A can not recover from a railroad company which negligently sets fire to B's timber and destroys it without knowledge of A's contract with B.13 If B has entered into a contract with A, by which B is to lend money to A to enable A to redeem mortgaged realty, and X floods A's land and thus causes B to refuse to advance such money because of his distrust of the mortgage security, A can not recover from X for such damage.14