Q: What are some common issues that lead to disputes among co-owners of a business?
Disputes between business owners, whether they be LLC members, shareholders or partners are a common occurrence. They can involve accusations of breach of fiduciary duty, self-dealing rather than acting in the best interests of the company or issues related to the rights of minority owners. Our firm represents parties involved in all such disputes including conflict over poorly-drafted buyout agreements, executive/management compensation, appraisal rights and rights to dividends paid by the company.
Q: What are some types of commercial litigation cases you handle?
Our firm represents clients involved in a wide range of commercial and business disputes including issues related to business torts, real estate transactions, shareholder disputes, employment law and generally, breach of contract cases. A breach occurs when one party fails to fulfill the duties under the terms of a legally binding agreement. This can happen for example when one party does not perform as promised, does something that makes it impossible for the other party to perform, or makes it clear that it does not intend to perform its required duties.
Q: What are some of the damages and remedies available to me in a commercial dispute?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, the following remedies may be available to you if you prevail in your action:
1. Compensatory Damages – Money damages to reimburse you for financial losses incurred as a direct result of the breach or tort.
2. Consequential and Incidental Damages – Money damages to reimburse you for financial losses you incurred as foreseeable, but indirect result of the breach.
3. Liquidated Damages – Money damages agreed-to and written into a contract that would be payable in the event of breach.
4. Punitive Damages – Money damages awarded with the intention of punishing the party who acted in an offensive manner in an effort to deter others from engaging in the same wrongdoing.
5. Attorney fees and costs – These fees are generally only recoverable if the terms of the agreement specifically provided for them.
6. Rescission – A contract is canceled and both parties are excused from further performance.
7. Reformation – The terms of a contract are modified to reflect the original intention of the parties.
8. Specific Performance – A court order requiring a party to perform as set forth in the contract.
Q: What is the difference between arbitration and mediation?
Arbitration and mediation are both means through which disputes can be settled outside of a traditional court setting. Mediation is a process that enables parties in a dispute to resolve their differences with the aid of a mediator instead of resorting to a lawsuit. The mediator is neutral third party that has been trained to assist people with the discussion of their differences. Mediators are not like judges and do not decide which party “wins”. The mediator instead helps the parties come to a solution on their own using communication between the parties and helping them focus on the real issues. Mediation permits the parties to have some control over the outcome, even though it doesn’t guarantee a final resolution. Arbitration on the other hand relies on a neutral arbiter to hear the evidence from the parties and render a decision that is binding. Arbitration may be more desirable when the parties require a definitive outcome in a time frame that is often shorter and less expensive than conventional litigation.
Q: Who is responsible for the court and attorney costs in my business dispute?
The losing side in a commercial litigation matter generally does not have to pay the winning side’s attorneys’ fees. This enables parties to initiate lawsuits without the fear of incurring excessive costs if they lose the case. There are a few exceptions to this general rule. Courts often have discretion in awarding attorneys’ fees if they believe it will advance justice or if it is in the interest of fairness, such as when a party has started a flagrantly frivolous case with no factual or legal merit. More commonly, parties are liable for attorneys’ fees if they agreed to it in a contract. Nonetheless, even in such cases, courts have discretion as to whether and to what extent such provisions are to be enforced.