If you’re a busy professional, whether you work for a company or run your own business, you probably don’t want to see your organization become involved in commercial litigation. Although there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of litigation, like hiring a skilled Florida business lawyer to draft and review all your contracts, sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. An experienced Florida commercial litigation attorney can help you resolve the matter as quickly as possible, while making every effort to protect your organization and reduce any financial liabilities. The attorneys at Apfelbaum Law would be able to assess your situation and determine whether we would be able to assist you.
What Is Commercial Litigation?
Commercial litigation covers a broad array of disputes between companies, or between companies and individuals, that can end up in a courtroom. Here are some examples of common issues that may lead to commercial litigation:
- Breach of Contract and Contractual Litigation
- Business Dissolution
- Trade Secrets
- Landlord-Tenant Litigation
- Partnership and Shareholder Derivative Actions
- Purchase and Sale Agreements
- Temporary and Permanent Injunctions
- Restrictive Covenants and Non-Compete Agreements
- Mechanics’ Liens
- Real Estate Brokerage
- Employment Litigation
- Insurance Claim/Coverage Disputes
- Partnership and Limited Liability Company Disputes
- Misrepresentations connected with real estate sale and purchase
- Partition Actions
- Florida Homestead Protection Actions
- Wrongful conduct by Brokers and/or Real Estate Agents
But Do We Have to Go to Court?
Not always. Many clients, even some with a strong case, wish to avoid a lengthy courtroom battle. Aside from the legal costs, sometimes businesspeople simply don’t want the publicity or don’t wish to talk about their business practices in open court.
While going to court is sometimes the best option, there are many situations where an experienced commercial litigation attorney may be able to work things out before going to trial. Your lawyer will discuss all the options so that you can make an informed decision. Keep in mind that sometimes compromising with the other party allows you to avoid extended courtroom arguments, saving time and money.
For example, if you are trying to collect on a debt of several thousand dollars, it may make more sense to work out a deal with the debtor than spend time and money in court. If the debtor can pay half the amount owed, and you would have spent more than that on court costs, other legal fees, and productive time lost at work, it might be in your best interest to accept what you can get. In other cases, you may be able to recover the full amount in small increments paid over time.
Lawsuits Against Businesses
No one wants their business to be sued, but sometimes it happens anyway. Some lawsuits can be avoided by ensuring your business contracts are properly written and reviewed, and an experienced Florida business attorney can help you avoid potential problems. However, even with the best efforts at avoiding litigation, sometimes companies do get sued. Reasons can range from an individual suing because they tripped and fell in a store to a business suing over what they believe to be a breach of contract.
There are many different ways to handle your company being sued. Apfelbaum Law’s commercial litigation attorneys will discuss the details of the case with you and explain your options. If the opposing party’s case is very weak, your attorney might ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit due to frivolity or lack of evidence for their claim. In some cases, the judge may agree the lawsuit is baseless and dismiss it. On the other hand, they may agree there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
During the discovery phase of litigation, which will follow a summons or complaint if you are being sued, both parties exchange relevant information. Your attorney and the other party’s attorney will send each other questions, prepare to depose witnesses, etc. During this time, you and your lawyer will work on your case strategy. In the pre-trial phase, your lawyer will retain and depose witnesses, prepare trial exhibits, and draft and prepare pre-trial motions. At trial, both parties’ lawyers will make opening statements. The lawyer for the plaintiff—the person or entity making the claim—will explain their complaint. They will state what they believe you are liable for, the other party’s damages, why they believe you are at fault, and what they want in compensation. The lawyer for the defendant will make an opening statement defending you in whatever way you’ve agreed is best. They may argue the injury or loss didn’t really happen, or they may argue that you were not responsible. Later, both attorneys will present evidence, and examine and cross-examine witnesses. At the end of the trial, both attorneys will make closing statements reiterating their case. After that, the judge or jury will make a decision. If you are not happy with the outcome of the trial, you and your lawyer may discuss whether filing an appeal is a good option.
What About Settlements?
Settlement, where both parties come to an agreement on their own, is possible both before and during trial. Sometimes, clients don’t like the idea of settling for many reasons. They may feel that settling is the same as admitting wrongdoing when they haven’t done anything wrong. They may want their day in court to prove they aren’t responsible. They may feel the other party’s claim is so frivolous that they don’t deserve any money.
These are all understandable concerns. In some cases, going to trial really is the best option. However, there are also situations where a settlement may save the client more time and money than a verdict in their favor. Bad publicity from the trial alone may be far costlier to their business than simply paying a settlement. Then there are the time and financial costs of the trial. It’s important to consider all these factors before making a decision about settlement. If you do decide to make the other party a settlement offer, the attorneys at Apfelbaum Law can help you come up with a reasonable amount, as well as setting terms for the settlement.
If you need assistance with your commercial litigation case, or have questions about any potential legal matter, please contact Apfelbaum Law for a consultation. We have offices in Port St. Lucie and Stuart, but provide legal services throughout the Treasure Coast and Florida.