All Together Now: Corporations are Not People

"Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like." - Edwin Thurlow

Once again, I am left with my head in my hands screaming to myself that Corporations are not people.  I was reviewing a federal court filing where the Plaintiff-Corporation was suing its industry competitor Defendant-Corporation for several causes of action.  One of the counts by the Plaintiff-Corporation, who I will call "SCAMSICK, INC.", is for tortious interference.

 Let me first explain what "tortious interference" is so we are all on the same page.  Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations occurs when a person or entity intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships. 

This is not a novel or surprising claim of action against a corporate Defendant.  In instances where there is a contract in place between any Plaintiff and a third party, statements made by a Defendant which are lies, intentional misrepresentations, fraudulent, or false are clearly actionable when such words are intended to undermine the existing contract.  However, the speaking of the truth by a potential corporate Defendant is not actionable when it merely states the facts about the status of the corporate Plaintiff.  

So for example, the corporate Defendant may discuss facts concerning the terms of  Scamsick's publicly available contract, or the corporate Defendant may speak about its proven superiority and advantages without incurring legal liability. There should also be no liability when the contract 's independent third party has previously stated concerns over an existing contract with the corporate Plaintiff and then the third party acts to protect its own compelling interests.  

 Tortious Interference allows for the recovery of legal damages which includes economic losses, if they can be proven with certainty, and mental distress. Now in a lawsuit with two corporate entities, how in the world can one corporation seek recovery for mental distress from another corporation? Mental distress is a term used to describe a range of symptoms and experiences of a PERSON's life commonly held to be troubling, confusing or creating mental suffering. Notice that the definition speaks to "Person", and not "Corporation".

 Corporations are not people!  Corporations don't have feelings, Corporations don't have emotions, Corporations don't have souls and Corporations don't suffer from mental distress.  Although I think it could be strongly argued that some corporations are dysfunctional, disorganized and unhealthy environments which could create mental distress for individual employees.

So having this understanding in place, I will now share the language of  corporate Plaintiff-Scamsick, Inc. that speaks to the damages it wishes to recover, "Corporate Defendants' actions have caused Corporate Plaintiff Scamsick, Inc. emotional damages, including humiliation, loss of capacity for enjoyment of property and inconvenience.  Corporate Defendant Scamsick, Inc. is entitled to recover emotional damages ..." 

Here is where the wheels come off the ScamSick's legal bus. Only a person, with feelings, can suffer humiliation.  Individual employees, agents, directors and officers may feel humiliated at what there employing corporation has done or has not done, however a Corporation cannot feel humiliation.  A corporation can't feel anything! 

Scamsick, Inc. and its employees can continue using all of its property, equipment, offices, bank accounts, private jets, limousines, corporate credit  cards. It may even throw a big celebratory party since it can still enjoy use of its own property with a corporate paid for cake and band.  The fact that employees, officers, directors, don't do so with a huge smile on their face is of no consequence or legal liability.  A corporation cannot suffer mental distress or emotional damages.

I believe the federal court will in due time recognize the frivolousness of Corporate Plaintiff' Scamsick's claim for "emotional damages". Perhaps Scamsick may itself be subject to claims by the Corporate Defendant in due time for making a meritless claim.  Nonetheless, it still has me screaming that Corporations are not People