Competitive bidding is common for many businesses, including construction companies, supply companies, and retail providers, among others. In most cases, an entity will solicit bids from competing bidders through a request for proposal (RFP) and will award a contract to the most attractive bid, which can depend on several factors. Although competitive bidding can lead to great for results for the entity soliciting the bids and for the bidder ultimately chosen, it can also leave the unsuccessful bidders resentful. In some cases, the losing bidder may attempt to bring an action for tortious interference with a business relationship against a person or entity they believe may have interfered with their bid. However, the Fort Lauderdale business litigation attorneys at the Mavrick Law Firm have extensive experience defending against claims for tortious interference, and, based on such experience, know that these claims will generally be unsuccessful.
To prevail on a tortious-interference claim, the plaintiff must prove “(1) the existence of a business relationship; (2) knowledge of the relationship on the part of the defendant; (3) an intentional and unjustified interference with the relationship by the defendant; and (4) damage to the plaintiff as a result of the breach of the relationship.” Ethan Allen, Inc. v. Georgetown Manor, Inc., 647 So.2d 812 (Fla.1994). Pursuant to the Southern District of Florida’s ruling in Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., 946 F. Supp. 2d 1321 (S.D. Fla. 2013), the plaintiff is the factual scenario supra will likely be unable to demonstrate a protected business relationship sufficient to justify a claim for tortious interference.
Duty Free involves the competitive bidding process for airport duty-free stores. Duty-free operators, such as the plaintiff Duty Free Americas, Inc. (“DFA”), generally secure space to operate duty-free stores in a particular airport via competitive bidding. Defendant, Estee Lauder Companies, Inc. (“ELC”), is the largest manufacturer of beauty products sold in duty-free stores. Prior to June 2008, DFA and ELC had a healthy business relationship. However, beginning in June 2008, ELC announced it would be raising its pricing, causing DFA to object and refuse to further sell ELC products. DFA subsequently discovered that ELC ultimately did not raise its prices, and thus tried to mend its relationship with ELC, but ELC refused to continue doing business with DFA.