Louisiana Oil Corporation v. Green, 7 Div. 311

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Citation161 So. 479,230 Ala. 470
Docket Number7 Div. 311
Decision Date11 April 1935

Rehearing Denied June 4, 1935

Appeal from Circuit Court, Etowah County; Woodson J. Martin, Judge.

Action by P.A. Green against the Louisiana Oil Corporation. From a judgment for plaintiff, defendant appeals. Transferred from Court of Appeals under section 7326, Code 1923.

Reversed and remanded.

Goodhue & Lusk, of Gadsden, and Bradley, Baldwin, All & White and Wm A. Rose, all of Birmingham, for appellant.

David C. Byrd, of Gadsden, for appellee.

FOSTER Justice.

This is an action at law against appellant. It was tried on counts L and K as amended. After count K had been filed, count L was added.

The first contention argued by counsel is that those two counts do not arise out of the same transaction or relate to the same subject-matter. The point was first made by objecting to the filing of count L, and then by demurrer to the complaint as amended.

As we construe count K, it is predicated upon a claim for slander of title (Womack v. McDonald, 219 Ala. 75, 121 So 57; Ebersole v. Fields, 181 Ala. 421, 62 So. 73; Dent v. Balch, 213 Ala. 311, 104 So. 651; 37 Corpus Juris, 130), or a malicious interference with plaintiff's contract rights in respect to certain property.

The claim is based on the averment that the defendant did not have the right to the immediate possession of lots 5 and 6 block 3, but that he falsely, wrongfully, and maliciously represented to others that he did have, and that plaintiff suffered damages as a result, and lost the benefit of an existing lease.

Count L claims rent under a contract between plaintiff and defendant for the demise of lots 5 and 6, block 3. So that the complaint claims on one count that defendant has no such contract, but falsely, maliciously asserted to others that he had, to plaintiff's damage; and in another that (if plaintiff is mistaken in the statement that defendant has no such right) there was a contract between them for the rent of the premises, and claims the amount due under such contract.

We have frequently had occasion to refer to the change which was wrought in this respect by sections 9467 and 9513, Code, so that it is no objection if the counts are inconsistent, as long as they arise out of the same transaction or refer to the same subject-matter. Gambill v. Fox Typewriter Co., 190 Ala. 36, 66 So. 655; Birmingham Belt R. Co. v. Ellenburg, 215 Ala. 395, 111 So. 219; Singer v. Nat. Bond & Inv. Co., 218 Ala. 375, 118 So. 561; Sov. Camp, W.O.W. v. Carrell, 218 Ala. 613, 119 So. 640; Lovett v. Funderburk, 224 Ala. 634, 141 So. 557.

The fact that the statute provides that the issue may be determined separately by the jury (section 9467, Code) does not prevent the court from determining it if it is made plain by the averments of the several counts in question. Section 9513, Code. We think that counts K and L do relate to the same subject-matter and refer to the same transaction, property, title, and parties, as contemplated by the Code provisions. The court therefore committed no error in so ruling.

The question mainly argued relates to the sufficiency of count K against demurrer. Appellant insists that it should be tested on the principles applicable to slander of title. Appellee argues that the cause of action is that of maliciously causing another to violate his contract.

The right of action against one who causes another to violate his contract has been frequently considered in our cases. In Pickens v. Copeland Grocery Co., 219 Ala. 697, 123 So. 223, we reviewed our decisions on that subject, and found that the only circumstances in which we have sustained such an action are for damages on account of an interference with plaintiff's trade or business as in Sparks v. McCreary, 156 Ala. 382, 47 So. 332, 22 L.R.A. (N.S.) 1224, or one in which defendant interfered with plaintiff's right to work and earn a livelihood under a contract for personal service. U.S.F. & G. Co. v. Millonas, 206 Ala. 147, 89 So. 732, 29 A.L.R. 520; Tennessee C., I & R. Co. v. Kelly, 163 Ala. 348, 50 So. 1008; So. Finance Co. v. Foster, 19 Ala.App. 109, 95 So. 338, 339. We held that plaintiff had no cause of action against one who merely conspired to cause a debtor not to pay plaintiff a debt.

In the case of Alcazar Amusement Co. v. Mudd & Colley Amusement Co., 204 Ala. 509, 86 So. 209, the suit was to enjoin the exhibition of a motion picture which plaintiff claimed to have the exclusive right to exhibit. The court held that equity had jurisdiction to restrain a third party from exhibiting a motion picture in violation of plaintiff's exclusive contract rights. By way of argument, not essential to the conclusion, the court referred to certain foreign cases holding that an action in tort exists against one who consciously interferes with the performance of a contract. This is not authoritative on the subject, since it is only stated by way of argument, and was not controlling in determining the equity jurisdiction of that case. The authorities in other states are in conflict. 62 Corpus Juris, 1141.

On the other hand, in Erswell v. Ford, 208 Ala. 101, 94 So. 67, 69, the court asserts that it approves the following statement: "An action cannot in general be maintained for inducing a third person to break his contract with the plaintiff; the consequence after all being only a broken contract for which the party to the contract may have his remedy by suing upon it." This was quoted from Sleeper v. Baker, 22 N.D. 386, 134 N.W. 716, 39 L.R.A. (N.S.) 864, Ann.Cas.1914B, 1189. The court then notes two exceptions, one relating to employees and the other to the use of coercion or fraud. The first exception is approved in our cases cited herein, and for the second the court refers to the authorities cited by the Court of Appeals in McCluskey v. Steele, 18 Ala.App. 31, 88 So. 367.

But bringing the question more directly to such a suit as here attempted in count K, this court in Dent v....

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16 cases
  • Kelite Products v. Binzel
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 15 Junio 1955
    ...94 So. 67, for this contention. But their interpretation of this case and of the Alabama law is not correct. In Louisiana Oil Co. v. Green, 230 Ala. 470, 161 So. 479, 481, it was "It is our understanding that the effect of our cases is to hold that no such claim of damages i. e., for interf......
  • Gross v. Lowder Realty Better Homes and Gardens
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 18 Abril 1986
    ...are cited. 208 Ala. at 103, 94 So. at 69. The rule put forward in Erswell, supra, was reaffirmed and expanded in Louisiana Oil Corp. v. Green, 230 Ala. 470, 161 So. 479 (1935), wherein the Court said: It is our understanding that the effect of our cases is to hold that no such claim of dama......
  • Ponder v. Lake Forest Prop. Owners Ass'n
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • 26 Junio 2015
    ...cannot be maintained, the remedy being to sue on it. Erswell v. Ford, 208 Ala. 101, 94 So. 67 [ (1922) ]; Louisiana Oil Corp. v. Green, 230 Ala. 470, 161 So. 479 [ (1935) ]."). Therefore, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of Ponder's claim of civil conspiracy against the individual Boar......
  • Griese-Traylor Corp. v. First Nat. Bank of Birmingham
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 8 Mayo 1978
    ...see, also, Alcazar Amusement Company v. Mudd & Colley Amusement Company, 204 Ala. 509, 86 So. 209 (1920), and Louisiana Oil Corporation v. Green, 230 Ala. 470, 161 So. 479 (1935), in which the latter case declared that the former was "not Volz v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 498 F.2d 659, ......
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