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Business tort case filed against former FBI director

Employment law in Florida and elsewhere is a litigation subject where breach of contract claims are voluminous and usually central to the litigation. Business litigation of this nature also may involve business tort allegations along with contractual claims. In one high-profile controversy, a former university president is suing the university and a former FBI chief and his law firm for tortious interference with the plaintiff’s prospective employment opportunities and for defamation.

The university had retained the defendant law firm, in which former FBI director Louis J. Freeh is a founding partner, to do an in vestigation regarding the involvement of the plaintiff and others in improper handling of the high-intensity Jerry Sandusky scandal. That matter involved allegations of child sex abuse against various boys by Sandusky. Some of the events occurred in a locker room on the university campus.

The defendants being sued by Graham Spanier, the former Penn State University President, are Freeh, his firm and Penn State. Freeh’s report, issued in 2012, accused Spanier of being involved in a cover-up to prevent the Sandusky charges from being revealed in public and from being prosecuted. It is alleged that the report caused Spanier to be arrested and to have to defend criminal charges now pending against him for perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice and related charges.

There are several different interference torts recognized in Florida or other states that involve a third party in some way or another interfering with existing or prospective business or contractual relations of the plaintiff. For example, the business tort of interference with a business relationship occurs when one engages in an intentional and unjustified interference with an existing relationship of the plaintiff with another entity. The plaintiff has legal rights in the relationship and plaintiff must show that it suffered damages to those rights as a result.  It is alleged that the defendants interfered with Spanier’s new job with the federal government after leaving Penn State and that he lost those opportunities as a result.

Source: espn.go.com, “Former Penn State president sues university, Louis Freeh over Sandusky allegations“, Don Van Natta, Jr., March 18, 2015

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