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ness. This claim presents an alternative to
recover damages resulting from wrongfully reporting a claim to force the innocent
business owner (a hotel, in this case) to pay
To establish a claim for tortious interfer-
ence with a business expectancy, the plaintiff
( 1) the existence of a valid business
( 2) the interferer’s knowledge of the
( 3) the interferer intentionally induced
or caused termination of the business
( 4) damage suffered as a result of the
termination of the business
This tort accrues “when the plaintiff
knew or should have known of the intentional interference with the plaintiff’s business expectancy, resulting in its termination;
and the plaintiff realized he was damaged by
that termination. 11
In the above case, the hotel did not
have a contract with the marketing company. Thus, the business must make the
marketing company aware that its report
has caused or may cause it to lose out on a
business opportunity. And if the marketing
company does not immediately withdraw its
demands for payment, then it could set the
marketing company up for a very large and
Often, a bank may deny or significantly limit a business’s line of credit following
a change in a credit score, like that of the
hotel owner shown here. However, this line
of credit may be necessary to remain in business or to complete the necessary repairs to
satisfy a potential buyer. If the wrongful
credit report and potential collection effort
create damages for the hotel, then the hotel
can and should sue to fix its reputation.
In either case, the law imposes certain
limitations and hurdles to bringing a claim
against someone that files a wrongful credit
report. Consumers bringing a claim under
the Fair Credit Reporting Act must dispute
the entry with the CRAs and give them an
opportunity to investigate. Businesses, by
contrast, have to ensure that the opposing
party is aware that they are interfering with
someone else’s business opportunity before
bringing a claim for the same.
In both cases, the importance of set-
ting the claim up for success cannot be
overstated. As in all litigation, wise counsel
will establish its liability and damages with
reasonable certainty before they even file a
1. 15 U.S.C. § 1681(a)( 1); Nelson v. Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp., 282 F.3d 1057, 1058-
1059 (9th Cir. 2002).
2. 15 U.S.C. § 1681(a)( 4); Gorman v. Wolpoff & Abramson LLP, 584 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 2009).
3. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681(o), (n) and (s- 2)(b); Nelson, 282 F.3d at 1058-1059.
4. Gorman v. Wolpoff & Abramson LLP, 584 F.3d 1147, 1161-64 (9th Cir. 2009).
5. 15 U.S.C. § 1681(s- 2)(b).
7. For example, A.R.S. § 33-1361 provides that:
“[I]f there is a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement, including a
material falsification of the written information provided to the tenant, the tenant may deliver
a written notice to the landlord specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and
that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the
8. See Johnson v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc., 635 F.3d 401, 407 (9th Cir. 2011) (noting but
not deciding in dicta that the District Court held that [the Plaintiff’s business losses] “were
therefore not consumer losses recoverable under FCRA”).
9. In the interest of brevity, this article does not address ( 1) whether the facts set forth above
create a contractual relationship; ( 2) whether the facts call for a separate count for fraud; and ( 3)
whether other torts may be available to the business as a result of the false report. Addressing
those issues may call for another article.
10. Dube v. Likins, 167 P.3d 93, 99 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2007).
11. Id. at 100.