Articles Posted in Business Litigation

Fotolia_92329578_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x213Despite the fact that everyone is entitled to their day in the court, the reality is that most cases do not make it to trial.  Many clients will approach their lawyers with the hope that they will be able to quickly get in front of a judge and explain their story—a vision of American justice that is reinforced in popular media and Court TV.  However, the reality is that it takes a long time to get to the point when a party can tell its story directly to a Judge.  In most situations, the cases take earlier exit ramps, such as informal out-of-court settlement, non-binding mediation, binding arbitration, or a ruling by the Court before trial.  If a case does make it to trial, the parties often settle on its eve.  Often, the cheapest and most efficient way for a dispute to get resolved is for attorneys to work on an out-of-court settlement.  This can occur at any point either before or after a lawsuit has been filed.  Under this track, attorneys informally negotiate a resolution.  If the parties agree to it, the attorneys will memorialize the resolution in a settlement agreement.  This is often the quickest way to resolve a case, as it does not require any third-party intervention—it only requires parties who are willing to work together to settle their differences and capable counsel to guide the parties through the process.

In addition to out-of-court settlements, cases often get resolved with the help of a third-party neutral.  The decision of this third-party may be binding depending on the posture of each case.  For instance, cases often go to non-binding mediation before they move on to trial.  Indeed, more and more courts are requiring this step before allowing the case to move to trial.  With a non-binding mediation, the parties all present their cases to a neutral, who tries to facilitate a settlement agreement.  In short, non-binding mediation is like the informal out-of-court settlement discussed in the previous paragraph, with the addition of a third-party neutral who helps ease things along. Sometimes, cases may end up in front of a third-party neutral who has the authority to make a binding decision.  For instance, if the parties previously signed an agreement for binding arbitration, the case may end up in front of a private judge whose decision is final.  In other instances, the parties decide to submit their case to binding arbitration at the time of the lawsuit for a variety of reasons, such as cost and efficiency. If the case does actually end up in court, it is still unlikely to reach trial.  The purpose of trial is to get to the truth of what actually happened in a conflict, so if there is no dispute about what actually happened, a judge might rule on the case early based on a dispositive motion like a summary judgment motion.  With a summary judgment motion, the moving party argues that there is no dispute of fact in the case, so the judge has no finding of fact to make in a trial and can proceed to a ruling earlier. If a party brings a summary judgment motion, it has the burden of providing evidence that there is not any dispute of fact in the case.  This evidence may come in a variety of forms, including affidavits, declarations, and discovery responses.  If a judge is persuaded, it may decide to rule on the case right there. As you can see, getting to trial is an involved and lengthy process with the potential for a lot of different early exit ramps.  If a case does make it all the way through the end of trial, it may take a long while to do so.  For instance, a timeline of one year would be a relatively quick timeline in most cases, and it is not uncommon for cases to take several years to make it from beginning to end.

Contact the Experienced California Business Litigation Attorneys at Structure Law Group

Contract-Signing-300x199Contractual disputes can be a costly problem for California business owners. When disagreements arise over each party’s rights and responsibilities under the written agreement, a skilled California business litigation attorney can help negotiate the dispute in order to avoid costly litigation.

What is an “As Is” Contract?

An “as is” contract provides that a particular produce is being sold in its present condition. The seller makes no promises or guarantees with regard to the product’s performance, and the buyer agrees that he or she will accept the product without such promises. “As is” contracts have a common problem known as mutual mistake. Because neither party inspects nor warrants the condition of the product, the product can sometimes turn out to be significantly more (or less) valuable than either party anticipated.

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Employment law is a constantly changing landscape of regulations promulgated on a national state, and even local level. Wages, gender discrimination, hours, working conditions, safety precautions, and many other aspects of the employee-employer relationship are regulated by federal, state and local employment laws. A San Jose employment law attorney can help protect employers’ rights while also helping to ensure compliance with employment laws and regulations.  Following are California laws which have been recently updated to provide employees with more legal protections.

Situations in Which Employees Have the Legal Right to Take Time off Work

Sections 230 and 230.1 of the California Labor Code provide specific rights to workers who have been the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. In general, these laws protect an employee’s right to take time off work to attend to matters related to the crime they have suffered. These matters include: obtaining a restraining order or other legal protection, seeking medical attention, obtaining services from domestic violence shelters or rape crisis centers, participating in psychological counseling, and creating a safety plan to prevent the recurrence of the crime. Employers are prohibited from terminating, discriminating, or retaliating against an employee who exercises these rights.

Many Los Angeles business owners find themselves forced into litigation in order to enforce their legal rights as creditors. There are many legal tools available to enforce these rights: liens, levies, garnishments, and charging orders are just a few of many examples. These and other tools can be used to allow a creditor access to a debtor’s assets in order to satisfy debts that have been recognized by a court. An experienced Los Angeles corporate attorney can help you determine which tools will best enforce your company’s legal rights against its debtors.Asset-Protection-300x200

A writ of attachment is a particular tool which is used to protect specific assets from being disposed of before a judgment is reached. The writ of attachment is a legal order issued by a court to a law enforcement agent. A writ of attachment is typically requested soon after a case is filed (in order to freeze the defendant’s assets while the case is pending).  A writ of execution is issued at the end of a case after the judgment is reached, in order to enforce a judgment debt that has been awarded to the creditor. The California Code of Civil Procedure establishes the procedures for obtaining a writ of attachment. Section 487.010 specifies the property which is subject to a writ of attachment, including interests in real property, accounts receivable, equipment, farm products, inventory, final money judgments, money on the premises of the debtor’s business, negotiable documents of title, instruments; securities, and natural resources (such as minerals, oils, or gases) on the debtor’s property.

How a Writ of Attachment Can Help Your Business

Fotolia_148839470_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Risk management is an important strategy for any business. Silicon Valley businesses can protect themselves from liability with effective indemnification provisions – These provisions can be instrumental to easing the financial burden of a lawsuit against your company.  Rather than your company paying for the legal costs of a lawsuit due to one of your business partners, you can obligate your business partners to pay for the legal costs through an indemnification provision. Learn more about the terms and conditions of indemnification and how to protect your business from future legal liability.

How Do I Indemnify My Business?

The first step to drafting an effective legal indemnification is identifying the specific types of liability your business needs to be indemnified from. For example, some businesses, such as theme parks, are based around services which are potentially dangerous to consumers. It is important that these businesses appropriately indemnify themselves against claims by those who use their business facilities. Specifically, theme parks may want to consider obtaining an indemnification in any contract with repair or technician companies providing repair and maintenance to their theme park rides. Professionals with high rates of malpractice claims (such as obstetricians) must also consider the appropriate means for indemnifying themselves against legal claims by patients.

California business litigation is a long and complicated process. It is important to have an experienced litigator assess your case and review your lawsuit complaint to ensure that the process is done correctly from the start. This blog post goes over the process, and how an experienced California business litigation attorney can protect your company’s legal interests.litigation-300x139

The Stages of Business Litigation

The first step in business litigation is to prepare a California business lawsuit complaint and file it with the appropriate court. The complaint should specify the exact legal harm that has been suffered and the relief sought by the plaintiff. This will generally take the form of an estimate of the financial damages suffered as a result of the legal harm. Once the complaint has been filed, the lawsuit has officially started. The complaint must then be served upon the opposing party. That party has a short window in which to file an official response to the complaint.  If they fail to do so, the complaining party may ask the court for a summary judgment to get their requested relief. The vast majority of defendants answer lawsuits in a timely manner. Summary judgments on service grounds are, therefore, rare. Once an answer has been filed, the next phase of the lawsuit begins.

Changing employment can be a stressful, life-changing event. Severance benefits can, however, ease the transition period. With sound advice from a skilled employment law attorney, Californiafotolia_127084189-300x300 employees and employers can both negotiate severance packages which suit their needs.

While it may seem like a severance package is simply a final lump sum figure, the reality is that it can be a complex combination of many different components. An effective negotiation begins with identifying which of those components are most important to you. For example: many employees may be concerned with continued access to health insurance, and may therefore negotiate a lower lump sum payout in exchange for continued coverage. Employers, on the other hand, may be concerned with preventing a future lawsuit against the company. These employers may negotiate a comprehensive release of liability in exchange for the employee’s agreement not to sue the company.

Some people imagine negotiations as a poker game, in which neither party reveals his or her ultimate goals. This will not result in any resolution – let alone one which satisfies both sides. Instead, it is important for each side to be clear about what is most important so that solutions can be tailored to the needs of all involved parties.

A breach of contract can be a costly expense which causes an array of legal damages to a business. In some cases, this damage can be mitigated by negotiating a settlement with the breaching party

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in advance. In other situations, the contract must be resolved in litigation. And in the most egregious cases, a court can award a plaintiff punitive damages to deter the defendant from engaging in the behavior in the future. The experienced Los Angeles contract attorneys at Structure Law Group can help you explore all options after any breach of contract.

What are Punitive Damages?

Of the many challenges faced when starting a business, creation of a company’s bylaws can be one of the more complex, technical, and overwhelming challenges of them all. While daunting, such agreements can protect startup companies from liability in business transactions. A Silicon Valley corporate lawyer can help your business create the bylaws which will best meet your legal needs.

  • Identify the needs of your businessFotolia_104278045_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x169

Before crafting any corporate policy, it is important to determine your goals. Does the policy need to protect the company from legal liability? Reduce operating expenses? Provide clarity for executing important business discussions? Identifying clear goals will allow for bylaws to effectively address such needs. Owners should also be sure to consider both the short and long-term needs of the business. Business, financial, and legal concerns can change over time. Effective bylaws will allow the business to adapt to the dynamic reality of the marketplace.

When multiple individuals begin conducting business together, they may have effectively created a partnership, even if they didn’t intend to do so.  Thus, even though partnerships can be formed without the partners actually signing a partnership agreement, the partnership and its partners become subject to state laws governing partnerships.  The California business attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP understand the laws and mechanics required to build a strong foundation for a partnership.  Being careful and meticulous about the partnership formation process can also help to prevent litigation if and when a dispute arises between and among business partners.

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Partnership Agreements

 Although not required under California law, as discussed above, entering into a partnership agreement when forming a partnership is highly recommended.  A partnership agreement is a legally binding contract that, among other things, dictates the roles of the partners and establishes guidelines for management of the partnership.  In addition, partnership agreements set out how potential legal disputes will be resolved.