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How Does a Business Lawsuit End in Oklahoma?

Posted by Jonathan Krems | Apr 11, 2024 | 0 Comments

In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to talk about a topic that comes up with many of my litigation clients, although they usually do not ask this question the way I'm talking about it in this week's blog and email newsletter.  Usually, the question is asked something like this… “What outcome can I expect if we file suit?”  Or “Will a lawsuit get us the result we want?”  Of course, there is no definite answer to those questions, because in litigation, there is really no guaranty of any specific result.  Even if you sue and get a judgment against the defendant, you still have to collect on it.  However, there are some different types of outcomes you can expect in a business lawsuit in Oklahoma, and that's what I want to talk about in today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter.  In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I'm answering the question, “How does business lawsuit end in Oklahoma?”

Everyone knows how a lawsuit starts.  You file a petition at the courthouse and get service on the defendant or defendants that are being sued.  Then those parties have twenty (20) days to answer, and the lawsuit moves forward.  However, how does the lawsuit end?  In today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I want to share four (4) common endings to business lawsuits in Oklahoma:

1.  Out of Court Settlement

The first common ending to business lawsuits in Oklahoma is an out of court settlement (and not a settlement achieved through mediation or arbitration, as discussed below).  These are very similar to what I call pre-litigation disputes, where each side gets an attorney, and the attorneys try to resolve the matter, either before the lawsuit is filed, or at some point thereafter.  If one of the parties is unhappy with the direction of the lawsuit, it's very possible that the attorneys can reach a settlement at that time, but not always.  A good business attorney will want to attempt settlement first before going to trial because going to trial is expensive and time consuming.  This process is not always successful, but as the lawsuit moves forward, there may be future opportunities for out of court settlement, especially after depositions of the parties, and the expenses start adding up.

2.  Mediation

The second common ending to business lawsuits in Oklahoma is a successful mediation settlement.  However, mediation settlements are voluntary, and not all mediations are successful.  I've attended my fair share of mediations that are not successful, as there is no guarantee, especially if one of the parties is difficult to work with through the mediation process.  In mediation, the parties are separated, and a mediator works with the parties (going back and forth), to help the parties better understand each other's position, and achieve a settlement through that process.  Once an agreement is reached through mediation, the agreement is voluntary, but is usually binding.  However, mediation can save time and expense of trial if the mediation itself is successful.

3.  Arbitration

The third common ending to business lawsuits in Oklahoma is arbitration.  Arbitration is very common in construction disputes and is not available in every lawsuit.  In order to proceed to arbitration, there must be an arbitration clause in the contract, or some other arbitration provision that brings the parties to arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution process for settlement.  In an arbitration, you might reach a settlement agreement, but it's not voluntary like it is in mediation.  Instead, the case is submitted to an arbitrator, who is more like a private judge, and his or her decision is final.  In some ways, arbitration is basically a private trial.  Attorneys make arguments and present evidence pursuant to the arbitration rules.  The judgment of the arbitrator is also binding.  Some arbitrations are less expensive than a full trial, certainly less expensive than a jury trial, but may or may not be less expensive than a bench trial without a jury.

4.  Trial

The fourth common ending to business lawsuits in Oklahoma is a trial, either before a jury, or what's called a bench trial before a judge.  Cases involving big stakes or very stubborn parties go to trial.  At this stage, the parties have something to lose, and settlement is just not likely.  If your case goes to trial, it can take months to reach a resolution due to the timelines of discovery and scheduling orders.  If you don't get the judgment or outcome you want, there is always the opportunity to appeal, which is expensive, but better success on appeal is not always guaranteed either.  In Oklahoma, many times appeals in business cases merely affirm the judgment from the trial.  Either way, trial and appeal is the most expensive ending to a business lawsuit in Oklahoma, and you can spend all that money without getting the result you're looking for.

Thinking about starting a small business?  Or maybe your small business is having issues with contracts, leases, business partners, collection issues, or experiencing other barriers to growth?  Please contact me at [email protected] to schedule a FREE strategy session.

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About the Author

Jonathan Krems

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Liberty Legal Solutions, LLC, a law firm dedicated to building, protecting, and defending the business and personal interests of our clients in Oklahoma.  Jonathan's primary practice areas are business law, contracts and agreements, business liti...


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