Aggressive Business Litigation Lawyers
Doing business in California often means having a high potential of getting involved in legal disputes with other businesses, your own employees and business partners, and other parties. When not handled properly and in a timely manner, these disputes can become extremely costly and destructive. Our litigators are very experienced in resolving disputes that can arise in the course of operating a business. We have successfully represented clients in a broad spectrum of commercial matters and in a variety of state and federal courts. When considering litigation, business owners should be aware of their options. In addition to the courtroom, there are other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that might be appropriate. We are experienced with representing clients in ADR forums such as arbitration and mediation, and acting as local counsel for out-of-state attorneys.
We Handle The Follow Business Litigation Matters:
- Employer defense
- Unfair competition
- Breach of contract and other contract disputes
- Insurance coverage claims
- Business torts and administrative law
- Fraud and misrepresentation
- Licensing and permitting issues
- Mechanic’s liens
- Partnership disputes
- Business sale/transfer disputes
What makes a good business litigation attorney?
Business compliance and liability are major concerns for businesses. That is why it is important to align yourself with a competent business litigation attorney. Not only should you choose a skilled professional, you need to find someone who understands all the intricacies of your type of case. He or she should have trial experience and be well versed in the various aspects of business litigation specialties.
Four Tips on How to Choose a Business Attorney for Litigation
The following tips will assist you learn how to choose a business attorney for litigation:
#1 – Review the Attorney’s Background
Naturally, skills and background must be heavily factored into the choice of an attorney. Therefore, devote a good deal of time to reviewing his or her qualifications. If you must go to trial, you need a lawyer who has had substantial courtroom experience. Most business lawsuits can be settled before a trial, which makes experience in this area important.
#2 – Observe the Lawyer’s Listening Skills
In order to succeed with any litigation, you need to rely on a legal advocate, someone who will sit down and listen to you. If an attorney seems too rushed or appears condescending, it will be difficult to proceed with a legal case. Therefore, an attorney who is patient, who listens to what you have to say, is someone you want to consider.
#3 – Consider the Weaknesses and Strengths of the Legal Case
Every business owner needs a truthful evaluation of their legal situation, even if it may not include details they want to hear. It is better to obtain an accurate review, versus getting your hopes up and feeling disappointed. You need to know what the outcome is likely to be. A business litigation lawyer should never give you unrealistic expectations about your case.
#4 – Factor in the Cost for Litigation
When you are involved in litigation, cost can factor strongly into the outcome. In some instances, it makes more sense economically to settle the case than battle until the end. The attorney you choose should be able to offer cost estimates, based on worst case and best-case scenarios. Again, truthfulness and transparency are part of a good attorney-client relationship.
Terms Used in Business Litigation Transactions
In order to understand better what may be involved in business litigation claims, the following terms are further explained.
- The employer defense area covers employee grievances toward employers who they feel have violated the following:
- Harassment on the job
- A Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) violation
- Wage or hour violation
Many claims under this category cover workers’ compensation employer defense cases. In this instance, the employee claimant typically disputes an employer’s reluctance to honor a claim, based on benefits or the injury. Attorneys who regularly perform this type of defense often are considered specialists.
Laws concerning unfair competition are established to safeguard businesses and consumers against deceptive practices. Instances of unfair competition include trade defamation, misappropriation of business trade secrets, and trademark infringement. Businesses can also be accused of unfair competition through such practices as misleading advertising, counterfeiting, or below-price selling.
Unfair competition is a type of business tort, created to prevent any unfair practices inside a business setting. Legislation is in place that protects the intellectual, creative, and economic interests made by companies in distinguishing themselves in the marketplace.
Breach of Contract and other Contract Disputes
When a business contract is produced, it creates certain obligations that must be followed by the parties of the agreement. When one of the parties fails to fulfill his or her part of the agreement, a breach results. Depending on the circumstance, a breach may happen when a party does not perform an obligation on time, or does not perform an activity in association with the contract.
In some instances, he or she may not perform the contract terms at all. Breaches are defined as material or immaterial to determine the proper legal remedy. Material breaches are considered violations of a contract’s terms that are significant while immaterial breaches represent a violation that is not as pertinent.
Insurance Coverage Claims
Two vastly different methods are used by insurance companies when determining coverage for liability insurance. The difference is noted by the triggers for the coverage. These two methods are represented by claims-made and occurrence policy triggers.
Occurrence Policy Triggers
The occurrence policy’s trigger is related to the date of an accident or event, which gave rise to a claim. Under an occurrence agreement, the policy that is enforced during the event date must respond with indemnity and a defense. This kind of claim may evolve years after a policy expired. Therefore, the occurrence coverage trigger does not place importance on the date the recipient obtained notice of a claim.
An occurrence policy does not offer coverage for prior acts. However, the policy remains available, even years after its expiration date. If an accident or occurrence happens during the term, the policy is designed to reply to a future claim.
In the instance of claims-made policies, the coverage trigger determination is noted by the date the policyholder first becomes aware of a claim or potential claim. In turn, the policyholder responds by giving notice to the insurer, or the provider who must defend and settle the claim.
Alternatively, a claims-made policy can provide coverage for a current claim – from negligent acts, errors, or omissions that happened before the policy was bought.
Therefore, retroactive coverage is enforced. The following conditions trigger claims-made policies:
- The insured professional must receive an initial notification of a potential claim or claim during the period of the policy.
- The potential claim or claim circumstance must be reported to the insurance company during the period of the policy
- A negligent act, error, or omission must occur after a retroactive date, set forth in a policy’s declarations.
The insured must make a statement in good faith that the business had no knowledge of a mistake, error, or any dispute when the coverage was bought.
Business torts are defined as civil wrongs that are made by or against a business. They often entail harm done to a company’s intangible assets, such as a business’s relationships with other clients, or its intellectual properties. Categories that cover business torts include the following:
- Fraud and misrepresentation
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Unfair competition
If a person or business is wronged, civil action can be taken against the other party. When this occurs, torts fall into three categories:
- Intentional torts
- Negligence torts
- Strict liability torts
An intentional tort is an act that was committed with intent to do harm to another party. Negligence torts occur when the other party does not show the kind of care that a prudent person would take in similar circumstances. Strict liability torts are similar to negligence torts except the defendant may still owe damages even if he or she was not negligent.
Administrative law covers a body or flaw that concerns legislation that is created by governmental departments and agencies. Administrative law cases often covers governmental benefits, such as Social Security Disability.
Individuals or businesses frequently must hire attorneys who specialize in administrative law when an agency in the government denies an application for benefits or assesses fines for failing to comply with certain regulations. Many administrative agencies have established their own appeal processes, which necessitates the expertise of legal counsel in this area.
Fraud and Misrepresentation
Lawsuits are often brought against companies for fraudulent misrepresentation. In order to prevail in a lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove the following:
- A misrepresentation occurred, where the action can be converted to a statement of fact.
- The representation was not true.
- When the representation was made, it was known to be false or made without validating its truthfulness.
- The representation was made to convince the other party to depend on it.
- The other party, in turn, believed and relied on the representation.
- The other party suffered damages from depending on the representation.
Fraudulent misrepresentations are usually remedied by the rescission of an agreement, or the voiding of a contract. In this case, only losses resulting from the representation can be claimed.
Licensing and Permit Issues
Business license permits are designed to safeguard consumers and keep business operations aboveboard. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) claims that almost every business requires a permit or license from the state in which it does business. If you own a business that is engaged in operations regulated by a federal agency, for example, you need a federal permit or license. Therefore, businesses that sells firearms, alcohol, or commercial fishing equipment fall under this type of requirement.
Each state has its own permit or licensing requirements. Therefore, to avoid licensing and permit issues, you need to confer with an attorney about the regulations established for your business in your state.
A mechanic’s lien is a legal claim against a property, used by a supplier or subcontractor, who was not paid by a contractor. What surprises most homeowners is the fact that a lien can still be placed on their property even if they paid a contractor for renovation work.
If the contractor does not pay the supplier or subcontractor, the law allows either of these parties to place a lien on a homeowner’s property. While this may seem unfair, the law also accounts for the fact that the property owner can sue the contractor.
Obtaining a Mechanic’s Lien
In order to obtain a mechanic’s lien, a supplier or subcontractor must do the following:
- Give notice to the homeowner what is being contributed within 20 to 30 days of the contribution (such as a sink or bathtub).
- If payment is not made, notice is given that a mechanic’s lien will be filed in the county of the property’s location.
- The law allows the supplier or subcontractor to work out a remedy with the property owner for a stated period before progressing with a lawsuit.
The lien will have no further impact if a lawsuit is not filed. However, it is recommended that homeowners obtain a court order to clear their property of the lien. Otherwise, they can have a difficult time selling the property.
While going into business with a partner sounds ideal, it helps to establish some guidelines so disputes do not arise. These guidelines should be written down in an agreement so each party knows their exact role in the business. Therefore, an agreement should cover the following:
- Who controls what, and how much is managed by each party
- The duties and obligations of each partner
- What is contributed for capital, and the amount
- How capital contributions will be handled
- How compensation and distributions will be allocated
- The procedures adopted for the business
- What format will be followed in making decisions
- When and under what situations the partnership or business can be terminated or end
To assist in drawing up the agreement, an experienced litigation lawyer should be hired. Collaborating with legal counsel is a good investment, and outweighs what it might cost if you got involved in a bitter dispute.
Business Sale and Transfer Disputes
Usually business sale and transfer disputes arise out of misrepresentation or a breach of the real estate contract. When due diligence is performed, negotiations follow before the closing of the sale. By this phase in the sales process, the following has occurred:
- They buyer plans to purchase the business
- The buyer’s due diligence has confirmed his or her decision to buy.
- The seller’s due diligence has verified that the buyer has the resources needed to buy and operate the business.
At this point, both parties should reach an agreement regarding the price, price allocation (including tax implications), and payment structure. In order to avoid a dispute, you need to rely on a competent lawyer who regularly handles these transactions.
He or she can help you understand what the purchase and sale agreement covers, and the terms of some of the contents. These terms may include the adjustments, seller agreements, security agreements, and seller’s representations. Disputes are avoided when the buyer and seller fully understand the terms and are prepared to negotiate.