A company known as "Retailer" exclusively sold another company, known as "Manufacturer" products. However, "Retailer" decided to cut ties and decided not to sell "Manufacturer" products.

"Manufacturer" placed several ads in several newspapers that the "Manufacturer" had discontinued distributing goods to the "Retailer" and it was not current on its payments to "Manufacturer".

John Doe, owner of "Retailer", met with Jane Doe, owner of "Manufacturer", to discuss the ad. John found out that it was an accounting error and that there was nothing wrong with "retailer's" credit. During their meeting words were exchanged and in anger Jane slapped John before she left.

What viable tort actions might be brought based on the above case description including the parties involved.

1 Answer 1


Fun Bar question :)

  1. The manufacturer may have a claim against retailer under contract law because an exclusive agreement usually carries with it the obligation to sell the goods in good faith. Termination clauses and why retailer decided to cut ties will be important.

  2. Retailer may make a claim against manufacturer for libel if the newspaper ads were not true, but based on the description, it was likely all factually correct. There may be a tortuous interference with business in there, but unlikely unless it causes Retailer to lose business in an easy-to-prove way. There may also be a false advertising claim to raise, but that may be more difficult to prove and is designed to protect consumers, not other companies, and there doesn't appear to be a consumer harm here.

  3. John likely has a good claim for battery against Jane, and perhaps against her company, "Retailer" as well for the slap. There may be a negligent hiring claim against retailer if it should have known that Jane was violent, although I am not sure how this works because Jane is also the owner. (There is almost certainly more here, because once intentional torts come into play, you can go on and on. There is almost always a trespass, but I don't quite see it here.)

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    "...you can go and on". One certainly can. Let's hear it for Donaghue v. Stephenson and the snail-in-the bottle. Surely we can find a place for this Prince of Tort Actions? I jest. However, the accounting error would, in my opinion, be better served by the tort of negligent misstatement rather than a full-on libel action which is so costly to undertake in the UK and where the burden of proof shifts to the plaintiff. And then there's the prospect/possibility of a jury trial in a defamation action, etc. Oct 29, 2016 at 7:35

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