The tort of interference with economic expectancy addresses the interference with a business relationship or expectancy that has not amounted to a contract. Many states recognize some form of this tort. Though the elements of this tort vary from state-to-state, the requirements generally include: (1) the existence of a valid business relationship or expectancy; (2) knowledge of this relationship or expectancy; (3) intentional interference causing or inducing a termination of this relationship or expectancy; and (4) resulting damages.
The Sixth Circuit recently addressed this business tort in Saab Automobile AB v. General Motors Company. No. 13-1899, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 20514 (6th Cir. Oct. 24, 2014). Saab Automobile AB (“Saab”) and its parent company filed suit against General Motors Company (“GM”) alleging that GM made public statements that interfered with a transaction Saab had with a potential investor, thereby driving Saab into bankruptcy. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the Eastern District of Michigan’s dismissal of the case, finding that Saab had failed to establish a claim under Michigan law.
As my colleague, Scot Ganow, suggested earlier this year, it won’t be long before the Supreme Court again finds itself at the intersection of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence and evolving technology. He was right. Slowly but surely, there is a split developing over the protection of cell site location information, both real-time and historical. This particular split – or split-in-waiting – has a little bit for everyone: privacy enthusiasts, who are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will continue the “digital is different” trend; Fourth Amendment scholars, who are anxious to dissect any application of the mosaic theory versus a growing privacy theory; and law enforcement officials, who are likely waiting to see how they can operate from day-to-day.
Cell site location information, or CSLI, is a record of calls made by an individual. More than that, it typically includes information on the cell tower that carried the call as well as the direction of the user from the tower. Why is this important? Because while not as precise as GPS location, CSLI makes it possible to extrapolate the location of a cellphone user at the time and date reflected in the call record. Given the prevalence of cellphones in today’s society, CSLI can be an indispensable tool for law enforcement.
The Sixth Circuit has penned numerous opinions relating to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), specifically involving the alleged wrongful denial of benefits. Most recently, the Sixth Circuit addressed ERISA’s preemption of state-law claims and reasonableness of limitations period in Mazur v. Unum Ins. Company, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 20784 (6th Cir. Oct. 28, 2014).
FI&C has defended companies and plan administrators in multiple ERISA denial-of-benefits cases. One of the threshold issues is whether any of the claims, even if not expressly identifying ERISA, relate to an ERISA plan. A company can remove a case from state court to federal court if the facts of the claims are related to an ERISA plan. Not only are a plaintiff’s state-law claims that relate to the ERISA plan preempted, but a company identifying the applicability of ERISA benefits from the statutory and common law of ERISA that is “built around reliance on the face of written plan documents.” Mazur, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 20784, at *6 (quoting US Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen, 133 S. Ct. 1537 (2013)). As one example, courts generally uphold the limitations periods set forth in an ERISA policy that govern the time period in which a plan participant or beneficiary must make a claim, as the Sixth Circuit recognized in Mazur (discussed below).
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