In this week's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, we're continuing in the series on the Top Ten Topics in 2024. Each week we will cover a very popular topic from last year that's become a “bestseller” in the Freedom Friday blog. Although these topics aren't being presented in rank order, I'm still saving the juicier topics for last. In this week's Freedom Friday blog, I'm going to talk about business litigation, which is one of my primary practice areas. A lot of people don't know what that is, and since one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is, “What kind of law do you practice?” It's very important to answer this question.
Last year I used to get asked “What kind of law do you practice?” a lot, and I would answer, “Business law and civil litigation,” or sometimes “Business law and business-related litigation”. But unfortunately, the litigation part of that got misconstrued, because I don't practice plaintiff's personal injury, thank God. However, I found a better answer to the question, “business services and business litigation,” or something along those lines. The litigation piece still gets confused at times, but most people really don't know what “business litigation” means. The term “commercial litigation” is even more generic, and confusing, as well. What I've found helpful, then, is to explain the type of cases that I handle as a business litigation attorney, when I'm not doing transactional work. So, in today's Freedom Friday blog and email newsletter, I'm answering the question, “What are the most common business disputes in 2024?”
There are five (5) different common types of business disputes:
1. Partnership Disputes
The first type of common business dispute, and I am involved in several of these, are partnership disputes. This also includes disputes among members (or owners) of an LLC. It also involves what are called “business dissolution” cases, which is essentially a business divorce. I'm involved in many of these disputes. Sometimes these disputes can be resolved amicably through negotiation or mediation. However, often times, when there is a significant breach of trust between partners or LLC members, or any other kind of co-owners, these disputes cannot be resolved in a pre-litigation manner, and they end up being resolved through a lawsuit in the courts.
2. Shareholder Disputes
The second type of common business dispute, and I don't have a lot of these cases, because they're less common in representing small businesses, is shareholder disputes. If you have a corporation, there are shareholders, and sometimes shareholders have problems with the management or the board of directors. A lawsuit regarding this type of issue is called a “derivative” suit, and this can be for mismanagement or misconduct resulting in loss of profits or other damages.
3. Employment Disputes
The third type of common business dispute, and again I don't have a lot of these cases, is employment disputes. These are also less common in my practice because I mainly represent small businesses which may not have a lot of employees. If you do have employees in your business, Oklahoma is an “at will” state, which means you can fire your employees at any time and for any reason. However, some employees may claim they were fired for an illegitimate or illegal reason, like discrimination. Independent contractors may also sue if they believe their contracts were violated by the business. In addition, sometimes a company will need to sue a former employee, or former independent contractor, for violations of company policies or their own contracts.
4. Breach of Contract
The fourth type of common business dispute, and this one is perhaps the most common that I see with my clients, is breach of contract. There are many different kinds of contracts which can be breached, but other than a dispute involving the operating agreement of an LLC (or a partnership agreement), the most common issue is usually that of a commercial claim or commercial collections matter. In other words, a customer of the business didn't pay its bill. I represent several companies where they have needed to sue or at minimum hire my law firm to send a demand letter for this reason. This is not the only kind of breach of contract case, as there are many others, but this type of lawsuit is very common.
5. Customer (or Consumer) Disputes
The fifth type of common business dispute, and again, I don't handle a lot of these cases, although I handle a few, are customer (or consumer) disputes. These cases are when a customer or consumer sues a business over such issues as defective product claims, mistreatment they received by a business, false claims, etc. These types of issues go beyond a customer or consumer complaining to a company's manager, and they are serious disputes involving significant amounts of alleged damages. Sometimes these disputes can be resolved through mediation or arbitration, but many of them result in litigation, too.
Thinking about starting a small business? Or maybe your 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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