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Today businesses are more competitive than ever. With such a saturated global commercial market, disputes among businesses are now all but guaranteed. Unfortunately the cost of protecting legal interests can be very high, but the cost of not protecting them can be even higher. That’s why finding the right commercial litigation attorney is so important. It can be the difference between continued corporate successes or the complete devastation of a business.
At Osborne & Francis Law Firm, our commercial litigation attorneys understand all too well the complexities and potential impact of disputes between business entities. That’s why we will always work hard to decipher the important facts and act in the best interest of our clients. If your business is involved in a dispute, our qualified attorneys can help. Contact us today at (561) 293-2600. We treat each client like family and ensure their case gets the attention it deserves.
What is Commercial Litigation?
Commercial litigation is a broad topic that covers any dispute between companies or business entities. It can involve various different aspects of business operations, including contract formation and performance, intellectual property rights, and other subtopics. In other words, commercial litigation encompasses all business-related issues.
Osborne & Francis Law Firm has had many successful cases and verdicts in commercial litigation. There are a number of common commercial litigation disputes, such as:
- Partnerships and joint ventures
- Partnership or shareholder disputes
- Business contracts and tortious interference with contracts
- Ownership/partnership disputes
- Intentional interference with prospective business opportunities
- Breach of contracts/warranty/fiduciary duty
- Employment disputes
- Products liability
- Bad faith cases
- Lost income and profits
- Tax disputes
- Class action lawsuits
- Purchase and sale contracts
- Insurance disputes
- Securities litigation
- Debt collection
- Trade secret lawsuits
- Environmental pollution
When companies wish to resolve a conflict between them they may choose to do so through the legal system. But while some companies may wish to go to court, others may prefer an alternative form of resolution such as mediation or arbitration.
Mediation is a process that involves a neutral third party, known as a mediator, to work with both parties in an attempt to come to an agreement. However, if no agreement can be reached, the case would proceed to trial.
Arbitration, which also involves a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, is different from mediation in that it is a bit more similar to a trial, though less formal. With arbitration both parties present their sides to the arbitrator, who then decides who wins.
What Damages Are Available in a Commercial Litigation Case?
When you file a commercial lawsuit there are a few different types of damages to which you may be entitled. This depends upon the specific facts of your case. Possible damages include monetary (money) damages, consequential damages, and sometimes punitive damages. Litigation damages for attorney fees are uncommon although possible.
As with any civil action, the plaintiff is alleging that the defendant caused some type of harm or wrong. In line with their allegation, the plaintiff must also claim that the proper remedy is monetary damages or equitable relief.
Monetary (money) damages, also known as compensatory damages, help to compensate the injured plaintiff for all of their losses that they incurred due to the actions or inactions of the defendant. Such losses include factors like lost income/lost future earnings, medical bills, and lost business opportunities. Punitive damages, which are much more rare, are monetary damages intended to punish the defendant for an intentional or egregious wrongdoing.
Equitable relief on the other hand is a non-monetary remedy in which the court orders the defendant to do something that was agreed upon or implied within the contract. However, it’s important to note that only a judge – not a jury – can award equitable damages.
And finally, litigation damages are those damages related to attorneys’ fees. To receive litigation damages both parties must have agreed in the contract beforehand to do so. Otherwise attorneys’ fees are generally unavailable. However, a plaintiff may receive litigation damages in a consumer fraud lawsuit.
Who Can Be Held Liable in Commercial Litigation?
A corporation is a business entity made up of individuals called the board of directors. While the board of directors act on behalf of the corporation, the corporation is considered its own legal entity. This means that corporations are treated separately from individuals who run the corporation. For this reason, a corporation or other business entity itself can be sued.
While corporations tend to have more money, if it runs out of money you won’t receive any – even if you win your case. There would be no money to collect. In such a case, people wish to sue a corporate officer or employee personally in order to receive compensation. However, in order to sue an individual behind the corporation certain factors must be present. When the court finds that they are, this is known as “piercing the corporate veil.”
Factors that the court will weigh to determine whether it will pierce the corporate veil include:
- Failing to observe the corporation’s formalities;
- Failing to pay dividends;
- Insufficient capitalization for corporate undertaking;
- Non-functioning of other officers/directors;
- Corporations that exist only as a facade for an individual;
- A dominant shareholder has siphoned funds;
- Insolvency of debtor corporation at the time that the transaction occurred;
- Failure to maintain corporate records; and
- Non-functioning of other directors or officers.
In order to pierce the corporate veil and hold an individual liable, the court must also find there to be an element of unfairness and injustice. In other words, all of the facts of the case must indicate a basic level of inequitable behavior.
The only other situations in which an individual can be held responsible for the acts of a business entity include when: (1) An individual signs a personal guaranty (personally guaranteeing repayment of debt); or (2) When an individual represents themselves as an agent of the company.
What Does a Commercial Litigation Attorney Do?
A commercial litigation attorney represents the best interest of a company in a dispute. Their job is to protect and defend the rights of the company by fighting for the best outcome in litigation.
Whether you are seeking legal action against another company or are looking to be represented in a related action, it’s in your best interest to consult with a commercial lawyer. A commercial lawyer will analyze your case and collect the proper evidence necessary to understand what would be in your best interest and how to proceed. Regardless of whether they are helping you to file a court lawsuit or to settle out of court, they will have many responsibilities, which may include:
- Evaluating your case
- Drafting any necessary motions or pleadings
- Responding to any of the other party’s complaints
- Conducting discovery of the relevant evidence
- Negotiating with the opposing party during the settlement phase
- Preparing other necessary documents for court
- Formulating the proper strategy for your case
- Presenting your case in court
- Filing any necessary appeals
Because there is much potential overlap with other areas of law, commercial litigation requires both extensive knowledge of business law as well as the other subtopics of law. Unfortunately, most commercial lawyers don’t usually have experience in all of the necessary areas of litigation relevant to your case. That’s why it’s so important to find a commercial lawyer who has proven experience essential to your issues.
At Osborne & Francis we recognize that each client has unique needs and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. That’s why we value character, consideration, cohesiveness, conviction, and contribution to our community.
Located in Boca Raton and Orlando, Florida, our commercial litigation lawyers work with individuals across the country. We believe an informed client is the best client. That’s why we work hard to ensure that you understand all of your options. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us at (561) 293-2600 today. We are here to help you fight for your rights and any compensation that you deserve.
Commercial Litigation FAQs
The biggest difference between commercial and corporate litigation and other types of litigation has to do with who is involved in the litigation. In commercial litigation the parties generally involve at least one business whereas in other types of litigation it usually involves individual people.
Because of the issues related to commercial litigation, the cases are usually civil. Even when issues involve criminal behavior it’s likely that the wrongdoing also involves a civil matter. Finally, commercial litigation cases are often filed in federal rather than state court, while class action lawsuits may involve multiple district courts. Over the last decade there has been an increase in the number of multidistrict and inter-disciplinary litigation.
Each commercial litigation issue is different. However, commercial litigation is like any civil lawsuit in that it involves consulting with an attorney, filing proper motions, attempting settlement negotiations, a trial should the negotiations fail, and an appeal if necessary.
A contract is any promise that is enforceable by law. The promise must be made in exchange for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration is any benefit or detriment that fairly persuades someone to make the promise.
An example would be something as simple as if I walk your dog outside for a half an hour tomorrow afternoon you will pay me $15. The $15 would be the consideration that would persuade me to make the promise of walking your dog.
A contract is breached when one of the parties fails to fulfill their duties per the terms of the contract. There are a few ways in which a contract may be breached: (1) one party fails to perform as promised; (2) one party acts in a manner that makes it impossible for the other party to carry out their duties under the contract; and (3) one party no longer intends to uphold their end of the contract.
For instance, if I pay $2,500 for front row tickets to a concert, but the company that I paid accidentally double sold my seats to someone else, it would be impossible for the company to carry out their duties under our contract. In such a case, the company would have to refund me my money for breaching our contract. But if they refuse to give me back my money, I would likely have to pursue litigation to get it back.