Business Torts are civil wrongs committed against or by businesses. Just like intentional torts and negligence, state law governs these business torts. The treatise, Business Torts: A Fifty State Guide, edited by Morton Daller, is a compilation of each state’s handling of business tort matters in a concise, user-friendly manner.
Part of what makes this treatise so easy to use is that each state is organized the same way: in an outline format revolving around the same issues that are part of each state’s statutory laws. The section for each state starts with the most important question for an attorney when helping a client: the statute of limitations, to know if time still remains to bring a cause of action. The next sections are basically the same for all states with only a few differences in wording based on each state’s statutory guidelines. Some of these sections include misappropriations of trade secrets, conversion, tortious interference with a contract, fraud and misrepresentations, consumer fraud statutes, and owner’s and director’s liability.
To help expand a user’s research, each section contains footnotes with reference to various statutes, cases, and even the Restatement of Torts that the state has adopted. Each state’s section is written by a local practicing attorney who litigates cases dealing with these same issues and is considered the go-to-person for her knowledge on the subject. The series is updated each year with the current series consisting of editions from 2007 to 2012. Each book is updated on a periodic basis with supplements that reflect the important changes in the relevant laws for each state. If nothing of significance has occurred, then the series is updated with each year’s new edition.
To illustrate how to search within the treatise, suppose you want to know what South Carolina courts would recognize and protect, were you to draft restrictive covenants and a trade secret clause in an employment agreement. To start your search, follow these simple directions. First, locate the call number (KF1250.Z95 B87 2012) from the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog with the search terms “business torts.” This sends you to the Treatise Section (through the clear glass doors, and then it is the last section on the right). Be careful unrolling the compact shelving before entering the row that you don’t commit any intentional torts or negligent acts in the process…you’ll need another Torts Treatise located in the same section were that to happen.
Once you are in the correct row, locate the colorful collection of books, just below eye level.
Using the 2012 edition, consult the Table of Contents to familiarize yourself with how the book is organized and to locate relevant information for South Carolina.
South Carolina starts on page 779. The two sections relevant to drafting the above referenced employee agreement is under Section B entitled “Misappropriations of Trade Secrets, 1- Uniform Trade Secret Act, 2- The South Carolina Trade Secrets Act, 3- Common Law Misappropriations of Trade Secrets, and 4- Restrictive Covenants/Covenants Not to Compete that runs from pages 779- 781.”
To ensure this is the most up-to-date law and that it has not been updated since the publication of the book, you would want to double check the South Carolina Code of Laws and case law referenced throughout footnotes eleven through thirty-eight. The First Restatement of Torts is also referenced, which South Carolina has adopted. All of these resources are good for cross-references to primary authority and other secondary sources that can be used to expand your search.
Business Torts: A Fifty State Guide is a one-stop-shop to the information you need to ensure your client’s wishes are met.
~ Ashley Wright, Class of 2015 ~
Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.