A Smart Approach To Contract Disputes

contract dispute - mcfarlin llp

 

Contract disputes are one of the most seen lawsuits not only in the California Superior Court, but in most areas as well. Contracts are used frequently on a daily basis and because of this there are often disputes that need to be handled as well. Regardless of the reason, disputes can bog down the process of doing business for any company and cause a serious concern if not dealt with properly.

At McFarlin LLP there are attorneys that can take care of breach of contract disputes as well as present you with a clear understanding of the process that is used when a lawsuit is involved. One of the factors that many attorneys leave out is how to solve the issue in the best way for your business instead of blindly going through the process of litigation.

Even though there are many possible reasons for a contract to be disputed, many tend to be about one party not paying for goods or services. Often times the party that has refused payment has done this for a reason. An example of this could be that they felt what they were intending to pay for was not to the quality that they expected when they signed the contract. This can lead to a counterclaim by the defendant which ends up further complicating the process for a Court.

At McFarlin LLP we don’t ignore the other factors of your business and how this dispute can become influenced by them, or visa versa. Instead we take the entire situation into account. Examples of this are total costs, business disruption, employee distraction, management time spent on the lawsuit (and the consequences of that), and public opinion if the dispute makes it’s way into the public eye.

If would like to get a free evaluation of your case give us a call at (888) 728-0044 or get in touch with us through our website.

Business Litigation for Businesses and Employees

breach of contract

A breach of contract can result in a very serious legal issue.

Every type of business involves complicated legal processes, such as contracts, workers’ compensation, and many other complicated issues.  With concerns such as this, things can often become quickly complicated.  If either the employee or the company feels as though their contract or a policy has been breached, they can seek to file a civil or business litigation suit.  These issues can often be drawn out and very damaging for all parties involved and should, therefore, be handled by skilled business litigation experts, according to a post for McFarlin Law’s website.

Businesses can be severely harmed by civil litigation suits.  Simple complications, misunderstandings, and clear violations may result in serious legal issues; specifically, suits often arise in areas such as civil rights issues, breach of contract, trade secrets, fraud, misrepresentation, employment disputes, and corporate disputes.  Businesses can either accuse someone of breaching a contract or be the accused; either way, the case can be drawn out and very damaging to the businesses reputation, resulting in long-term affects for the company, both in regards to reputation and financial ramifications.

Employees can also be affected by business litigation cases.  After all, much as businesses are able to play either role, employees can as well; they can either be in violation of breaking a contract, or have had a contract broken by their employer.  Businesses can breach their contracts, dispute proper pay for work and target the individual with discriminatory actions.  In addition to this, any illegal actions taken by the business affects all of its employees and reflects on their reputation as well.  The result can be a loss of pay or employment for the employee.  No matter the size of the company or the size of the offense, it is in the employee’s right to seek fair compensation through civil litigation cases.  Doing so with an attorney skilled in business litigation can result in receiving fair payment for any retributions.

Fiduciary Duties and Businesses

Fiduciary Duties

One’s Fiduciary Duty is to look out for someone’s best interest.

Fundamentally, a fiduciary duty is the legal requirement of an individual to act in the best interest of another.  In this arrangement, all parties that owe this duty are called fiduciaries and those that are owed the duty are referred to as principals.  For example, lawyers have a fiduciary duty to their clients; guardians have the same duty to their wards.  Specifically, in terms of business law, an article from McFarlin Law, LLP notes that directors and officers of a corporation owe a fiduciary duty to the company and to their shareholders.  Disputes, therefore, often arise as a direct result of allegations that an officer or director breached his or her fiduciary duty.  However, these accusations shouldn’t be made or taken lightly; such declarations can have long-lasting financial and professional consequences for the officer or director.

To help officers and directors of corporations avoid such accusations, the article provides several means through which fiduciary duty can be breached. These examples have several themes, starting with a focus on competition; fiduciary duty is breached when an officer choose to start a competing business or help a business competitor.  Funds also account for a large portion of the possible ways to break fiduciary duty.  Many methods are discussed, including mixing business and personal funds, spending corporate funds on things that do not benefit the corporation, and fraud, incompetence or misappropriation of funds.  Finally, a general code of ethics must play a role, as ethical violations or negligent errors also can serve as a breach of fiduciary duty.

In the case that accusations are made, a review will be conducted by the court, which will look at the actions of the officer in question.  The court will have to determine if an ordinarily prudent person would have acted the same way under similar circumstances.  For instance, did the officer act on good faith?  Would someone else have made the same decisions in the same situation?

The Sensitivity of Employment Litigation

man getting fired

Wrongful termination laws vary from state to state, but it is always important for both the employee and the employer to keep all documentation from the time of hire.

With the economy being what it is, layoffs are unfortunately a common reality. When a layoff hits, a considerable amount of people become unemployed overnight, usually due to budget cuts; however, oftentimes an individual may be fired or terminated for the wrong reason. Being laid off can not only be emotionally overwhelming for the employee and his/her family, but it can also lead to severe financial hardship if the person isn’t eligible for unemployment right away or doesn’t find new employment immediately. Therefore, you should seek legal counsel at once if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated.

To begin, we should first define wrongful termination. As the term suggests, it is the circumstance in which a person’s employment is terminated for reasons that are discriminatory and unlawful. This includes letting a person go due to race, age, sex, religion, sexual preference, weight, national origin, etc. The law protects employees in these types of situations so working with experienced wrongful termination attorneys will generally lead to a positive outcome for the victim. Additionally, it’s important to note that these laws don’t apply solely to termination but also to the denial of a promotion. With that being said, laws do vary from state to state, but each state has laws to protect employees in the event that they are wrongfully terminated.

In the state of California, wrongful termination cases can be a bit of a different story. Due to the fact that the majority of employers in California hire “at will”, which is a term used to describe a contractual relationship in which an employee can be fired for essentially any reason besides one based on discriminatory/illegal reasons, it can be difficult to prove that a termination has in fact been wrongful.

Due to this, it is highly important that employees keep copies of all pertinent documents (hiring letters/emails, performance evaluations, etc.), so that an attorney has enough necessary information to properly evaluate the potential case and better assist the victim.

Being let go can be devastating and leave a person in a state of shock. If you believe you have fallen victim to wrongful termination, it is in your best interest to contact a wrongful termination attorney to see if you have a case; even if making the decision to take action and fight back is daunting. Time is of the essence, so don’t wait until it’s too late and you find yourself in a financial rut.

McFarlin LLP is thoroughly seasoned when it comes to Employment Litigation Law in California. They offer free consultations to prospective clients in California, Utah and Nevada. For inquiries, contact them via phone or email.

Two Lawyers Join Forces to Create Business Litigation Firm

Beckstead Terry PLLC.

These two lawyers have joined forces to bring business Litigation to a new level.

According to an article recently completed by the Austin Business Journal, two lawyers are coming together to launch an employment and commercial litigation focused law firm.  Amy Beckstead and Jana Terry, two attorneys with long histories working in commercial litigation, will be working together to found and create the new firm.  The pair of women have known each other for quite some time, first becoming acquainted through a locale female attorney networking group entitled the Mother Attorney Mentoring Association, which was conceived, formed and set into motion by Beckstead herself.

Beckstead and Terry have been acquainted since meeting at the organization, and have only grown closer since their first meeting.  In the time since they have met, the pair has found that their approaches to serving clients is identical.  Both women have a priority on focusing to provide responsive, strategic and practical advice to clients.  Together, Beckstead and Terry feel that their joining forces will allow them to leverage their respective skills and optimize the services provided to their clients.

Amy Beckstead brings experience in working for a firm to the table—in knowing and completing the day to day tasks required to keep a law firm in operation.  She is licensed to practice in two states—California and Texas.  Prior to forming the new firm, she worked for DLA Piper, a large international law firm.  Jana Terry, on the other hand, has experience in running law firms, as she has been the key figure in running a commercial litigation firm for the last three years.  Prior to this, she worked for Greenberg Taurig, one of the largest law firms in the United States.

The firm formed by the two female lawyers will be entitled Beckstead Terry PLLC.  The company will be based in Austin and focus on business and employment litigation.

Cybersecurity Continues to be a Problem for Businesses

Cybersecurity

A lack of Cyberecurity is costing businesses billions of dollars and making it easy for hackers to get into their systems.

A new study recently revealed that hackers have cost consumers and businesses between three hundred and seventy five billion dollars and five hundred and seventy five billion dollars worldwide, with North America and European businesses suffering the highest losses.  This figure is only expected to grow, as the government continues to search for solutions to cybersecurity. According to an article recently completed by JD Supra Business Advisor, the Obama Administration has produced a voluntary framework of guidelines that offer up the best practices and standards designed to help companies protect their networks from hackers.  However, these suggestions are just that—voluntary recommendations; it remains to be seen whether the majority of businesses in the United States will implement the plan.

The presidential administration has called on Congress several times in the past to enact legislation to strengthen cybersecurtiy and help businesses combat hackers.  The House and the Senate have both attempted to create and pass legislation to help in the issue.  However, they have always struggled to pass any offerings due to privacy concerns.  This is true in the most recent attempt by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which attempted to pass the Cyber Information Sharing Act, otherwise known as the CISA.  The act insisted upon data being shared between the government and companies, in the basis that open lines of communication would help stop cyber-attacks.  Those who support the bill believe that this sharing of information can help protect businesses from future litigation and lawsuits, as disclosing the data and details of any cyber-breaches could cut back on the legal aspects of the process.  Those who oppose the bill, however, believe this requirement to share information fails to protect the privacy of Americans.

Regardless of those for and against this bill, all can agree that something needs to be done on the issue.  Currently, the lack of federal legislation means businesses must develop and execute their own form of cybersecurity.  These plans are often complicated—including provisions for protecting valuable data and a plan of action should a cyber-breach actually occur.  While preparation is of course necessary, it is only made more difficult by the fact that businesses are alone in the task.

Businesses Become More Open to Litigation

Taking Affirmative Action when a business has potential claims against them is the best thing to do.

Taking Affirmative Action when a business has potential claims against them is the best thing to do.

When it comes to Business Litigation in the United States, as well as other countries, Mondaq breaks down the feelings on this topic from the business end in a recent article. Businesses have almost always viewed litigation as taxing, causing employees to spend a large amount of time responding to discovery requests and becoming liable for legal fees and other costs. On the other hand, businesses have not exactly embraced lawsuits either. With that said, it seems as though times are changing as businesses around the world are seeing the benefits of lawsuits; turning their losses into profit.

Businesses in the US are very proactive in taking the right steps to recover damages when they have potential claims against them. “Affirmative Litigation” is what this is called and is generally apparent in lawsuits in the US courts. Businesses are also considering whether claims can be asserted in other countries as well. There are many US businesses that have operations outside of US soil and are bringing in claims from a variety of different countries to recover damages especially in multinational markets including European, Asian, and Latin American markets.

In the US, one business can represent the interests of all other businesses in one case. For example, in the case of an alleged anticompetitive conduct, a single business can represent each and every consumer of a product against the manufacturers if they are assumed to have planned to set prices, or have come to an agreement to not compete with one and other.

Most businesses would have sought out whether or not another business brought a class action lawsuit instead of bringing their own case back in the day. This is called being an “absent class member” by not taking action on their own, but waiting to see if they would be eligible to file a claim for the purpose of getting part of their class action recovery. Businesses these days can no longer take a passive approach to these situations because the courts have made it harder for them to pursue class action cases. As a result of the courts, many businesses are now instead choosing to bring their own lawsuits to recover damages.

Business Litigation Questions and Answers

Q: What is business litigation?

A: Laws pertaining to business provide guidelines on how companies, partnerships, organizations, and corporations should be run. They dictate what is and what isn’t permitted. Business litigation focuses on legal matters of business and gives disputing parties within and without business groups a process through which they can resolve issues of conflict by invoking business regulations and laws that deal with contracts, non-compete agreements, and trademarks.

Q: Is litigation the best way to resolve my business dispute?

A: Chances are you would not consider litigation unless you and the opposing party could not resolve your dispute through arbitration or mediation. This is normal and perfectly understandable since business affairs are usually contentious and involve high stakes for all parties.

Your case may be settled out of court before a trial is necessitated. Be sure that the settlement offer is fair to you. The legal counsel on the opposing side may see that you have a clear advantage and distract you with an inadequate settlement offer in hope that you take it when you would’ve attained a better outcome if you proceeded with the trial.

Q: How long does the business litigation process usually take?

A: Like with any other legal matter, how long your case takes before it is resolved will depend on the complexity of its circumstances. If the dispute you have with the other party is extremely involved and requires extensive negotiations, your case will most likely take months or even years. Also, the more parties there are involved in the matter, the longer the case may be. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney to receive an estimate of your case’s length.

Q: What is a breach of contract?

A: Business disputes commonly revolve around a breach of contract. Some form of a legally binding agreement or contract is drawn up every time a new hire is made, a partnership is formed, or an exchange of services and/or goods is rendered. Any violation of the terms of an agreement constitutes a breach of contract.

Q: What is a non-compete agreement?

A: Before being hired, an employee may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement which states that they are prohibited from going to work for the employer’s competitor. This serves to prevent unfair competition practices, such as leaking trade secrets, from occurring. Any employee who signs a non-compete agreement and subsequently violates it can be held liable for a breach of contract.

Q: Why do I need an attorney to represent me in my business litigation case?

A: You may be certain that you have been wronged but feel as if you have no recourse because you lack the legal knowledge needed to pursue successful litigation. That is why you need an attorney, but not just any attorney. Business disputes are complex affairs that require a deep and nuanced knowledge of business law. You need to find an attorney who specializes in business litigation, isn’t a jack-of-all-trades type, and has had ample experience dealing with cases similar to yours.

Q: Why should I choose McFarlin LLP?

A: Timothy McFarlin and his legal associates are all accomplished attorneys with high merits in their respective fields. They are well regarded not only by clients, but also by their peers. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Please check out our Case Results and our Client Testimonials web pages to see for the quality work we bring to clients on a consistent basis.