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What is Business Litigation?
Litigation is the formal process by which a lawsuit is filed so that a judge or jury can resolve a legal issue. Litigation can involve a wide range of matters. Common types of litigation include:
- Criminal litigation;
- Family law litigation;
- Trust and probate litigation;
- Bankruptcy litigation;
- Personal injury litigation; and
- Business litigation
Business litigation is a very general term used to describe a broad of area civil litigation that can affect any aspect of a business or your involvement with a business. Common types of business litigation include:
- Breach of contract;
- Shareholder and partnership disputes; and
- Various business torts
Breach of contract, put simply, occurs any time one party to a contract does not fulfill their obligations under that contract, whether it is the failure to perform their obligations properly or to perform their obligations at all.
Shareholder and partnership disputes usually involve a partner or shareholder bringing a lawsuit against another partner or shareholder as a result of a business tort.
A business tort is a general name for all of the different types of legal actions that your lawyer may bring on your behalf. Some common business torts are:
- Breach of fiduciary duty;
- Fraudulent misrepresentation; and
- Misappropriation of trade secrets
A Breach of fiduciary arises when someone who has a responsibility to act in your best interests in a business matter breaches that duty and, as a result, you suffer damages.
Fraudulent misrepresentation means that, in the context of the business, someone intentionally gave you information that was false or incorrect. You relied upon that information and, as a result of relying on that information, you suffered damages.
Misappropriation of a trade secret occurs when confidential information owned by your business, such as customer lists, financial data, business contacts, formulas, recipes, and processes are stolen or shared without your consent.
What Are the Steps Involved in the Business Litigation Process?
The business litigation process involves multiple stages and can be time-consuming. Even a simple business litigation case will often take a year to conclude. A more complicated case can take 2 to 3 years.
The various stages involved in the business litigation process include:
- The Demand Package – In an attempt to get them to negotiate with you and resolve your dispute, your lawyer will prepare and send a demand package to the other party(s) involved in the dispute.
- Pleading – If the demand package fails to yield a resolution, you will then need to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit involves a formal legal complaint being filed against one party and then that party filing an answer to the complaint.
- Discovery – Discovery is the stage of the litigation process that takes up the most time. During this stage, the parties exchange information amongst themselves so that everyone knows what evidence will be presented at trial.
- Motion for Summary Judgment – A motion for summary judgment is a legal action that calls for a judgment to be entered in the lawsuit without having to go through a full trial. Often after the discovery stage, there are no more facts being disputed and the only matters left to be settled are issues of law, which must be settled by the judge. When this is the case, one party files a motion for summary judgment to request that the judge render a ruling in the lawsuit without moving on to trial.
- The Trial – The trial is where the parties present all of their evidence before either a judge or jury who, after hearing and evaluating the evidence, will render a verdict in the case.
Alternatives to Business Litigation
Throughout the business litigation process, there are still other ways to resolve your business dispute that can save you both time and money. These include:
- Settling; and
Any time during the litigation process the parties involved can come to an agreement that resolves their lawsuit outside of court. In fact, the overwhelming majority of business litigation cases are settled outside of court.
Mediation calls for the litigants to engage a neutral party called the mediator to help them resolve their lawsuit or dispute outside of court. Mediation is an extremely effective method of resolving a lawsuit or business dispute and is frequently court ordered.
During mediation, the litigants and their respective attorneys get together in one location with the mediator. To begin the mediation process, there is usually a brief introductory statement made by each party and then they are separated into different rooms.
The mediator will then sit with each party separately, get their perspective on the matter at hand, learn what they are willing to accept or compromise, and take that information to the other party. This will go on until the litigants arrive at an agreement that they can all accept and the case is resolved.
Although the litigants can engage in mediation at any time during the litigation process, mediation most often takes place during or after the discovery stage of the litigation process, after all of facts and information have been shared between the litigants. Mediation is usually concluded in one day, but can last days and weeks, or even months, depending on the complexity of the issues being resolved and other factors.
Consult with An Experienced Massachusetts Business Litigation Attorney
Every business litigation case is different and your case will not be exactly the same as any other. Who you choose as your Massachusetts business litigation attorney will have a great impact on the success of your case and the future of your business.
To discuss your case with a qualified and experienced Massachusetts business litigation attorney, please give The Law Offices of Richard Mucci a call at 781-729-3999 or visit our contact page to arrange a consultation with an experienced Massachusetts business litigation attorney.