Business Fraud & Torts

Business Fraud, Misrepresentation and Torts Attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia

Torts are civil wrongs recognized by the law as grounds for a lawsuit. Generally speaking, “business torts” refer to some breach of duty or intentional conduct that improperly interferes with business property, economic interests or relationships. There are numerous contexts in which business torts occur and various remedies the law provides for, depending on the circumstances. Our Atlanta, Georgia business fraud and tort litigation attorneys have the training and experience to properly evaluate and, if appropriate, file suit and litigate to conclusion business tort claims as:

While business torts encompass a wide range of conduct and legal causes of action, there are some common circumstances where they typically occur as discussed below.

Tortious Interference with Contractual or Business Relations

The law provides protection to contracting parties from wrongful interference in that relationship by outside parties. If a third party intentionally seeks to interfere with or harm a contracting party’s relationship or rights under one or more contracts with another party, a claim for tortious interference may arise. To prove such a claim in Georgia, a plaintiff must generally show (1) the existence of a valid contractual relationship, (2) the defendant acted improperly, without privilege and purposely with the intent to injure, (3) the defendant induced a third party to not enter into or continue a business relationship with the plaintiff, and (4) the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff to suffer financial harm.

Examples of common scenarios in which a claim for tortious interference with contractual relationship might arise include a product supplier or service provider actively persuading a potential customer to wrongfully terminate a contract with another supplier or provider; a company seeking to hire contracted employees of another company; or a company providing false information about another company to induce a third party to not enter into or continue a contractual relationship with them.

A closely related claim is tortious interference with business relation. This claim is similar to one for tortious interference with contractual relations, except no contract is required. To prove a claim for tortious interference with business relations, one must generally show a person or company (1) acted improperly, without privilege and purposefully with the intent to injure, (2) induced a third party or parties not to enter into or continue a business relationship with another person or business, and (3) caused that person or business financial harm. This claim is intended to apply broadly to any circumstance where one party maliciously tries to harm another’s business or cause it to fail, or interferes with a person’s future employment. Examples of scenarios where such a claim might arise include publishing false information about a company, its products or services in order to induce potential customers not to do business with the company, or an employer providing false information about a former employee in an effort to prevent the employee from obtaining new employment.

Fraud & Misrepresentation

Whenever a person or company misrepresents or seeks to hide important facts in the context of a business transaction or relationship, a claim for fraud or misrepresentation may arise. Generally, to prove fraud in Georgia one must show a false statement or intentional misrepresentation of a material fact, reliance on the misrepresentation or false statement, and resulting economic loss. To successfully prosecute a civil claim for fraud, the false statement or intentional misrepresentation must be specifically pled and proven in order.

Fraud can arise from countless situations and contexts. A common scenario involves the sale of a business or property in which the seller intentionally provides false information, makes false statements or actively seeks to hide information from the buyer about the business or property. For example, a seller might provide a buyer with false or incomplete financial information to paint a more favorable, but untrue, picture of the business. Or a seller might not disclosure adverse information about the business or property, such as potential lawsuit or other liabilities of the business or hazardous conditions existing on property that may impose liability on the purchaser. Another common, but legally specialized, situation in which fraud arises involves the sale of securities or investments. Click here for more information about investment and securities fraud claims.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary duties are among the most important imposed by law, and must be strictly adhered to. Under the law, business partners generally owe fiduciary duties of trust, honesty and loyalty to one another. If one partner breaches his fiduciary duties to another partner, he or she may be liable in tort for provable damages resulting from the breach. Officers and directors of corporations also owe fiduciary duties to shareholders, and may be held liable to the shareholders if they violate those duties. Click here for more information about partnership or shareholder disputes involving breaches of fiduciary duties.

There are numerous other contexts in which fiduciary duties may apply. For example, a trustee is a fiduciary with respect to the beneficiaries of a trust. An executor or administrator of an estate owes fiduciary duties to the decedent’s heirs. A guardian or conservator is a fiduciary with respect to a minor or adult ward. The direct agent of an insurance company owes fiduciary duties to the company, while an independent insurance agent (not directly employed by an insurer) may also owe a fiduciary duty to a customer. A person with power of attorney for an aging parent or other family member owes fiduciary duties to act in the parent’s or family member’s best interests. In other unique circumstances, parties may be deemed to have a special relationship of trust under which the law imposes fiduciary duties upon one of them. For example, majority shareholders in a closely held corporation owe fiduciary duties to minority shareholders who can always be outvoted by the majority.

If a breach of fiduciary duty occurs and causes financial harm or loss, the injured party may be entitled to recover actual or compensatory damages, incidental business damages, and if the conduct was egregious, punitive damages. Each case and set of circumstances involving a breach of fiduciary duty claim is unique, and requires proper factual investigation and legal analysis by a qualified attorney with knowledge of and expertise in such claims.

The Atlanta, Georgia business litigation attorneys at Brownstein & Nguyen have decades of experience representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of business litigation, including business torts and fraud. Our attorneys will meet with you, review your documents and facts and discuss your legal options and business objectives to assess your best course of action. Our attorneys have a proven track record, both in and out of the courtroom, of achieving the best possible results for business clients, including in business tort cases. Click here to view examples of cases we have handled and notable results, and click here to see what our clients say about our experience and dedication in handling their claims.

If you or your business has been economically harmed by the wrongful act or conduct of another person or business, call or contact our experienced business tort and fraud litigation attorneys in Atlanta today for a free consultation.