Preparing for Business Litigation
April 5, 2023
Operating a business is not always smooth sailing. Disputes can arise from customers, employees, vendors, and service providers. Some disputes may involve contractual agreements, with one side accusing the other of breaching the terms. Employees can raise legal concerns about overtime pay or discriminatory practices. Customers can have warranty claims—or they may even slip and fall on your premises and have a personal injury claim.
The bottom line is that these disputes can end up in litigation, and a business owner/operator must be prepared if they are suddenly served papers announcing a lawsuit. The first response may be to try to resolve the situation on your own, or worse, to somehow get “even.” When you face a legal summons, you need to consult with an experienced business litigation attorney immediately before you do anything else.
If your business is facing a lawsuit in or around Birmingham, Alabama, reach out to Clark Law Firm PC as soon as possible. John and his team will review the pending case and advise you of your legal options moving forward. Clark Law Firm PC also handles pending litigation cases throughout Alabama and along the Florida Panhandle.
The Litigation Process
The first thing to know is that, when facing litigation, you typically have 30 days to file a response to the "complaint" filed by the opposing party. If you do not file or file after the deadline, the plaintiff suing you may seek a default judgment, meaning you can lose without ever going to court to defend yourself. That’s why it is important to immediately contact an experienced attorney and start mapping a response and a strategy moving forward.
Many, if not most, business lawsuits are settled outside of the courtroom, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. When it comes to a lawsuit, the plaintiff’s attorney can exploit your vulnerabilities and your ego if you think you can go at this alone.
Steps to Take – and to Avoid – When Litigation Looms
SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL: The first step is to seek an experienced business litigation attorney and map out a strategy. In the meantime, you want to make sure you don’t get in the way of your own path to resolution.
DON’T COMMUNICATE WITH THE PLAINTIFF: Let your attorney carry out all communications, oral or written. Don’t think you can “reach out” and settle the dispute on your own. Even worse, don’t start posting on social media about the pending lawsuit or about the plaintiff. If you make disparaging comments about the person or entity suing you, that can only inflame matters to your detriment. Rely on your attorney.
COLLECT ALL NECESSARY DOCUMENTS: Any paperwork, text or phone records, photos, videos, receipts, contracts—anything relating to the pending lawsuit—must be assembled and presented to your attorney. Don’t be tempted to alter anything or to leave out anything that might be incriminating.
The first phase of the trial, if matters go that far, is called “discovery,” and the plaintiff’s side will ask for all evidence you intend to present. If you leave something out or try to revise something they already know about, you could make a bad problem worse.
BE HONEST AND FORTHRIGHT WITH YOUR ATTORNEY: Your attorney needs to know the full truth, so don’t try to withhold information that you think might damage your case, or try to make things seem simpler or more favorable than they might be. Your attorney does not need to reveal anything you relay. Your communications are protected by attorney-client privilege. Your attorney needs to have a full grasp of everything involved in order to move toward the best possible outcome.
CONTINUE BUSINESS AS USUAL: While your attorney works on the pretrial requirements, including preparing a response to any interrogatories submitted and communicating with the plaintiff’s attorney, you should go about business as usual. You need to focus on keeping your business operating and thriving despite any pending litigation. Don’t let a lawsuit throw you off track so that your business suffers.
Get the Strong Support You Need
If your business is facing a lawsuit anywhere in Alabama or along the Florida Panhandle, contact the legal team at Clark Law Firm PC immediately. Attorney John W. Clark IV has, in addition to his Juris Doctor degree, a bachelor’s in business administration and a master’s in banking and finance. He brings an understanding of how businesses operate to the experience he has in negotiating and preparing for a potential trial. Reach out to John today.