Cimmino v. Marcoccia
To prevail on tortious interference with contract, a plaintiff may be required to prove tortious conduct. Allegedly, after the plaintiff elementary school principal, Andrew Cimmino, requested an investigation into whether Maria Marcoccia and Sally Lyddy had misappropriated funds, government authorities received pictures that Marcoccia had taken of Principal Cimmino. Although police and the Department of Children and Families investigated and were unable to corroborate child abuse, the board of education discharged Cimmino. Cimmino sued Marcoccia and Lyddy, alleging tortious interference with contract. A jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. Marcoccia and Lyddy moved to set aside the verdict. The court found that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendants proximately caused the plaintiff's discharge. "Given the remoteness of Marcoccia's conduct to the harm suffered by the plaintiff," wrote the court, "her actions may not necessarily be sufficient to constitute the level of cause necessary to meet the legal standards of proximate cause required to establish causation." Even assuming that the defendants proximately caused the plaintiff's injury, a jury could not have reasonably concluded that Marcoccia and Lyddy's conduct was tortious. Marcoccia and Lyddy were mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. "To hold individuals liable for reporting suspected child abuse," wrote the court, "would contravene this state's strong public policy of encouraging reports." Other than the production of the photos, Marcoccia and Lyddy did not engage in any tortious conduct. No evidence existed that Marcoccia and Lyddy engaged in misrepresentation, fraud, intimidation, molestation or tortious conduct that led to the plaintiff principal's discharge. To hold Marcoccia and Lyddy responsible for allegedly reporting suspected child abuse would contravene the state's public policy of encouraging reports. The court granted Marcoccia and Lyddy's motion to set aside the verdict.