Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entertainment Co., Inc., No. 1

CourtCourt of Appeals of Arizona
Writing for the CourtHAIRE; JACOBSON, P.J., and EUBANK
Citation536 P.2d 1072,24 Ariz.App. 180
Docket NumberNo. 1,CA-CIV
Decision Date19 June 1975
PartiesCharles MIDDLETON dba TV Leo's and Trudy Middleton, his wife, Appellants, v. WALLICHS MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY, INC., dba Wallichs Music City, Appellees. 2242.

Page 1072

536 P.2d 1072
24 Ariz.App. 180
Charles MIDDLETON dba TV Leo's and Trudy Middleton, his wife, Appellants,
v.
WALLICHS MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY, INC., dba Wallichs Music City, Appellees.
No. 1 CA-CIV 2242.
Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1, Department B.
June 19, 1975.

Page 1073

[24 Ariz.App. 181] Brown & Galasky by Andrew G. Galasky, and Cunningham, Goodson & Tiffany, Ltd., by John F. Goodson, Phoenix, for appellants.

Perry & Head by Dale A. Head, Phoenix, for appellees.

OPINION

HAIRE, Chief Judge, Division 1.

On this appeal we are required to determine whether the trial judge erred in directing a verdict against appellants' claim for intentional interference with appellants' claimed rights under a restrictive competition covenant in the lease. The covenant in question reads as follows:

'Lessor hereby covenants and agrees that it will not enter into a lease with any tenant if the tenant is primarily engaged in a television, radio and high-fidelity sales and service business.'

The lessor sued the tenant (appellants) for amounts due under the lease provisions. 1 The tenant then counterclaimed

Page 1074

[24 Ariz.App. 182] against the lessor asserting two counts. The first count alleged that the lessor had breached the above-quoted covenant by entering into a subsequent lease with appellee, Wallichs Music City. The second count of the tenant's counterclaim against the lessor was based upon the same facts, but asserted as a legal premise an intentional and willful interference with an advantageous contractual relationship, apparently with a view to enabling the tenant to collect punitive damages from the lessor.

In addition to the two count counterclaim against the lessor, the tenant also filed a third party complaint against the appellee, Wallichs Music City. The claim asserted against Wallichs Music City alleged that Wallichs had intentionally and willfully interfered with the tenant's advantageous contractual relationship with the lessor by inducing the lessor to breach the above-quoted restrictive covenant contained in the tenant's lease.

After a jury trial, the trial judge directed a verdict in favor of Wallichs Music City on the tenant's claim for tortious interference. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the lessor on its claim for rental due from tenant in the amount of $30,322.65. On Count I of the tenant's counterclaim against the lessor, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the tenant in the amount of $38,000. A formal written judgment was entered in accordance with the verdicts, and the tenant has appealed from that portion of the judgment in favor of Wallichs Music City on the third party complaint for tortious interference. 2

The legal principles to be applied in determining the propriety of a directed verdict are well established in Arizona. In considering a motion for directed verdict the trial judge must consider all competent evidence and the inferences to be drawn therefrom most strongly against the moving party in order to determine whether or not a Prima facie case has been presented. Ruiz v. Faulkner, 12 Ariz.App. 352, 470 P.2d 500 (1970). A Prima facie case requires that there be evidence to justify, not necessarily compel, an inference of liability. A Prima facie case is one which, simply stated, gets the case to the jury for consideration. Robledo v. Kopp, 99 Ariz. 367, 409 P.2d 288 (1966). The motion admits the truth of whatever competent evidence the opposing party has introduced, including all inferences that can be reasonably drawn therefrom. E. L. Jones Construction Co. v. Noland, 105 Ariz. 446, 466 P.2d 740 (1970). The facts pertinent to the disposition of this appeal will be stated in accordance with the foregoing principles.

The legal basis for a cause of action for tortious inducement to breach a contract has long been recognized in this jurisdiction. See Meason v. Ralston Purina Co., 56 Ariz. 291, 107 P.2d 224 (1940). There the court stated that the claim is based upon the proposition that a contract is a property right and that a party to a contract has a cause of action against a third person who procures its breach by the other party unless the acts of that person are performed in the legitimate exercise of his own rights. In order to prove a claim for tortious inducement to breach a contract, the claimant must show: (1) the existence of a contract, Pre-Fit Door, Inc. v. Dor-Ways, Inc., 13 Ariz.App. 438, 477 P.2d 557 (1970); (2) the defendant's knowledge thereof, McNutt Oil & Refining Co. v. D'Ascoli, 79 Ariz. 28, 281...

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15 practice notes
  • Southern Union Co. v. Southwest Gas Corp., No. CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 4, 2002
    ...with Southwest. (Id. at 5). To support his argument, Rose relies primarily on Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entertainment Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 536 P.2d 1072 (1975) and comment h of § 766 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts ("Restatement"). Rose notes that in Middleton, the ......
  • Safeway Ins. Co., Inc. v. Guerrero, No. CV-04-0146-PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • February 24, 2005
    ...agreement to prevent insured from entering a Morris agreement with plaintiff); cf. Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entm't Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 183, 536 P.2d 1072, 1075 (1975) (stating that mere fact of prior knowledge by new tenant of restrictive covenant in lessor's lease with existing......
  • Cowley v. Braden Industries, Inc., No. 77-3272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 8, 1980
    ...that Aeromotor had knowledge of a valid contract as required by Arizona law. See Middleton v. Wallichs Music and Entertainment Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 536 P.2d 1072...
  • Southern Union Company v. Southwest Gas Corporation, CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS (D. Ariz. 1/2/2002), CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 2, 2002
    ...with Southwest. (Id. at 5). To support his argument, Rose relies primarily on Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entertainment Co., 536 P.2d 1072 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1975) and comment h of § 766 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts ("Restatement"). Rose notes that in Middleton, the cou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Southern Union Co. v. Southwest Gas Corp., No. CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 4, 2002
    ...with Southwest. (Id. at 5). To support his argument, Rose relies primarily on Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entertainment Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 536 P.2d 1072 (1975) and comment h of § 766 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts ("Restatement"). Rose notes that in Middleton, the ......
  • Safeway Ins. Co., Inc. v. Guerrero, No. CV-04-0146-PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • February 24, 2005
    ...agreement to prevent insured from entering a Morris agreement with plaintiff); cf. Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entm't Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 183, 536 P.2d 1072, 1075 (1975) (stating that mere fact of prior knowledge by new tenant of restrictive covenant in lessor's lease with existing......
  • Cowley v. Braden Industries, Inc., No. 77-3272
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 8, 1980
    ...that Aeromotor had knowledge of a valid contract as required by Arizona law. See Middleton v. Wallichs Music and Entertainment Co., 24 Ariz.App. 180, 536 P.2d 1072...
  • Southern Union Company v. Southwest Gas Corporation, CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS (D. Ariz. 1/2/2002), CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 2, 2002
    ...with Southwest. (Id. at 5). To support his argument, Rose relies primarily on Middleton v. Wallichs Music & Entertainment Co., 536 P.2d 1072 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1975) and comment h of § 766 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts ("Restatement"). Rose notes that in Middleton, the cou......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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