alleged coconspirator "shared its specific intent to create a monopoly").
Plaintiff responds that it has alleged that defendants had "mutual purposes and intended effects,"
including that Genetic Systems be excluded as a competitor of Abbott. Mere use of the word "intent," however, does not constitute a factual allegation of specific intent. Plaintiff's claim that "all of the conspiratorial activity alleged in the complaint is related to the injury suffered by Genetic Systems in the market for transfusion blood screening equipment,"
reveals the vagueness of plaintiff's theory and does not remedy this legal deficiency. Plaintiff's complaint is not supported by meaningful factual allegations. Association of Retail Travel Agents, 635 F. Supp. at 538; Mizlou Television Network Inc. v. National Broadcasting Co., 603 F. Supp. 677, 684 (D.D.C. 1984). Furthermore, that a purchaser such as the Red Cross would conspire with a supplier such as Abbott to facilitate the supplier's monopolization of the market to allow, for example, the supplier to charge the purchaser "non-competitive, monopoly prices" is sufficiently implausible to limit any inference of an antitrust violation.
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 594; see also Car Carriers Inc., 745 F.2d at 1110 (in "considering a motion to dismiss the court is not required to don blinders and ignore commercial reality"); see also Dunn & Mavis, 691 F.2d at 244-45; Coastal Transfer, 833 F.2d at 211 (rejecting plaintiff's claim that defendant purchaser intended to harm competition in seller's market as "illogical"). Since the essential element of intent is lacking, the Court need not address whether plaintiff has sufficiently alleged overt acts by defendants.
In short, plaintiff does not have standing to complain about any attempt by the Red Cross to monopolize the blood supply market. The Red Cross' intent cannot be theoretically transferred from one market to another. As to the test equipment market, plaintiff has failed to allege any specific intent on the part of the Red Cross to assist Abbott's monopolization. Accordingly, Count V must be dismissed.
F. Count VI: Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage and Unfair Competition
Plaintiff's last claim is under state law
against only Abbott for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition, that is, plaintiff claims that Abbott intentionally and maliciously deprived plaintiff of actual and prospective business relationships, advantages, and opportunities in entering into the contract with the Red Cross. Abbott moves to dismiss (or for summary judgment) on the basis that plaintiff has not adequately pled or supported its allegations.
To establish a claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, a plaintiff ordinarily must plead (1) the existence of a valid business relationship or expectancy, (2) knowledge of the relationship or expectancy on the part of the interferer, (3) intentional interference inducing or causing a breach or termination of the relationship or expectancy, and (4) resultant damage. See, e.g., Fishman v. Estate of Wirtz, 807 F.2d 520, 545 (7th Cir. 1986); Richard Short Oil Co., Inc. v. Texaco, Inc., 799 F.2d 415, 419 (8th Cir. 1986); Rickards v. Canine Eye Registration Foundation, Inc., 704 F.2d 1449, 1456 (9th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 994, 78 L. Ed. 2d 683, 104 S. Ct. 488 (1983); Belden Corp. v. Internorth, Inc., 90 Ill. App. 3d 547, 552, 413 N.E.2d 98, 101, 45 Ill. Dec. 765 (1980). "Unfair competition" is essentially an unprivileged interference with prospective advantage. Business Equipment Center, Ltd. v. De-Jur Amsco Corp., 465 F. Supp. 775, 778 (D.D.C. 1978); Belden, 413 N.E.2d 98, 101-02, 90 Ill. App. 3d at 552. "Motive or purpose to disrupt ongoing business relationships is of central concern in a tortious interference case . . . and a strong showing of intent is required to establish liability." Rickards, 704 F.2d at 1456. A general intent to interfere or knowledge that conduct will injure the plaintiff's business dealings is insufficient to impose liability. Id. A competitor's conduct must be more egregious, for example, it must involve libel, slander, physical coercion, fraud, misrepresentation, or disparagement. Business Equipment Center, 465 F. Supp. at 788; PPX Enterprises v. Audio Fidelity Enterprises, Inc., 818 F.2d 266, 269 (2d Cir. 1987); Belden, 90 Ill. App. 3d at 553, 413 N.E.2d at 103.
A thorough review of the amended complaint fails to surface any allegations sufficient to support plaintiff's claim for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. While plaintiff does allege that it had a valid business relationship or expectancy in business with the Red Cross,
its allegations that Abbott intentionally interfered, induced, or caused a breach or termination of this relationship or expectancy are too vague to withstand defendants' motions. At most, the amended complaint alleges that the Red Cross solicited proposals from both Abbott and Genetic Systems and that Abbott realized that an exclusive contract with the Red Cross would substantially exclude Genetic Systems from the market for blood screening equipment.
As even the cases relied on by plaintiff make clear, however, such knowledge or such effect alone, without allegations of intent to interfere by Abbott, cannot support plaintiff's claim. See also Royal Typewriter Co. v. Xerographic Supplies Corp., 719 F.2d 1092, 1105 (11th Cir. 1983) (competition for business does not constitute tortious interference); Nifty Foods Corp. v. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., Inc., 614 F.2d 832, 838 (2d Cir. 1980) (no tortious interference where no evidence that sole motive was to inflict injury or of unlawful means used). Plaintiff's antitrust claims do not alone excuse the necessity for plaintiff to fulfill the pleading requirements of this independent state law claim. Count VI must be dismissed.
Accordingly, after full consideration of the parties' pleadings and motions, the declarations of record, the exhibits, and for the reasons set forth above, it is hereby
ORDERED that the motion of the Red Cross to dismiss Counts II, III, IV, and V of the amended complaint be and it hereby is granted; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the motion of Abbott to dismiss Counts IV, V, and VI of the amended complaint be and it hereby is granted; it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the Red Cross is hereby dismissed as a defendant from this action; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that Genetic Systems and Abbott, by counsel, must attend the status call scheduled for July 15, 1988 at 9:15 a.m., to discuss further proceedings on the remaining Counts I, II, and III of the complaint.
IT IS SO ORDERED.