The Rare Business Litigation Trial
Nov. 1, 2019
I recently completed a three-day jury trial involving a dispute over the sale and warranty of a robotic welding system. I represented the defendants – two entities and an individual. The plaintiff claimed these three parties breached a contract for the sale of the robot and a warranty for the operation of the robot.
At the end of the evidence, I was able to obtain a judgment as a matter of law for my clients – avoiding the prospect of having to rely on the jury for a verdict. This was a good win for the client and ended a very “extended and protracted” litigation dating back to the original filing of the complaint in 2011. And, as many litigators will tell you, a jury trial is an exhilarating time for the lawyers.
But, for a business firm and business litigator, a jury trial is becoming rare. Most business disputes end in a settlement. Why? Because business disputes are, at their core, disputes about money. And reasonable business people can usually find a reason to pay some amount of money to avoid indecision and wasted time – even if it is unpalatable. Settlements also remove the need for long (and expensive) trials.
Although trying cases is a fun and challenging time for litigators, the lure of the courtroom cannot outweigh the benefits of a pre-trial settlement for clients in most business cases. But, if no settlement is possible, a jury trial may be the only solution. The lesson? Don’t mistake your business lawyer’s attempts to find a negotiated resolution with the opposing party as a “fear” of facing the jury. Instead, we are likely looking out for your interests as the client and trying to help you, or your business, solve a problem without expending significant amounts on legal fees to pay for a “fight” you may not want (or need).