Appeal from order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, July T., 1971, No. 52, in case of Richard Broxie v. Household Finance Company.
Charles Weiss, with him Chester R. Babst, and Thorp, Reed & Armstrong, for appellant.
David K. McMullin, for appellee.
Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Price, J.
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This appeal has been taken from the lower court's refusal of appellant's Motions for New Trial and Judgment N. O. V. in an action in trespass on the tort of malicious interference with contractual relations. Appellant raises six (6) assignments of error; but for the reason hereinafter set forth, the merits of basic contentions raised will not be reached. We must reverse and remand for a new trial.
The appellee contends, and the lower court so held, that if defendant (appellant) knew or should have known with substantial certainty that the result would occur, implied intent sufficient to meet the requisite element of intent for maintaining an action for interference with contractual relations exists. Appellant contends that the tort requires proof of "specific intent". Although we do not reach the merits of this argument, the contentions of the parties are important to the error committed by the lower court.
Following submission of appellant's post-trial motions, a transcript of the proceedings was filed with the lower court, said transcript in its relevant portions contained the following:
"[B]ut even though there is no specific intent, and again I emphasize to you that as a matter of law there is no evidence that there was any specific intent in this case, it has always been recognized that a disruption of contractual relations can result, can occur as a result of intentional action on the part of the Defendant who knew or could have known that such disruption was certain or substantially certain to result from its action. . . ." (NT 271) (Emphasis added).
"[T]hat you could find intent if you found that Defendant knew or could have known that the result which was obtained in this case was certain or substantially
[ 228 Pa. Super. Page 286]
certain to result from its action. . . ." (NT ...