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Civil Litigation & Alternative Dispute Resolution

Experienced Pleasanton Lawyer Handling Complex Business Issues

Even when businesses are careful, it is inevitable that disputes will arise between shareholders, directors, or employees, or in the course of a company’s relationship with other individuals and businesses. When not handled appropriately, disputes can transform into litigation that disrupts or even destroys a business. Civil litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) require knowledgeable counsel. If you are looking for a seasoned Pleasanton business attorney, you should contact the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch.

Civil Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

There are some situations in which a business dispute cannot be resolved through negotiations or informal discussions. Civil litigation may be initiated by filing a complaint in court that lays out all of a party’s grievances against one or more other parties. The complaint may specify multiple causes of action. For instance, there may be allegations of breach of contract, fraud, and unfair competition in a lawsuit against a vendor of the business that used bait-and-switch marketing and misrepresented the nature of the goods provided.

The causes of action alleged in the complaint will determine what needs to be proven in the lawsuit. They can also determine the strategy that parties and their attorneys use to obtain evidence to prove or disprove elements of the causes of action.

Often, parties to civil litigation enter into “discovery,” a process of learning about the information that supports each side’s position. Through the course of discovery, the parties may send each other interrogatories, subpoenas, requests for documents, and deposition notices. Numerous witnesses may need to be deposed. For instance, there may be multiple witnesses to a corporation’s scheme to steal an entrepreneur’s trade secrets, and each of these witnesses can be asked to testify in a deposition and, when appropriate, at trial. In some instances, discovery leads one or both parties to decide that it might be appropriate to resolve the case short of trial. For instance, an employer might pursue litigation against an employee for breach of a restrictive covenant and non-disclosure agreement, but in the course of litigation, come to realize that the employee has strong evidence.

In a California lawsuit for breach of contract, both general and special damages may be sought. General damages are losses that are natural and foreseeable. Special damages are losses occasioned by a breach that are specific to the circumstances. For example, if the plaintiff business was anticipating the defendant’s performance of certain actions in order to provide services to its clients for a special promotion that was expected to result in significant profits, and the defendant was aware of these circumstances, the plaintiff may be able to recover expenses incurred in anticipation. The language of a particular contract may also specify liquidated damages.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In most cases, ADR is less expensive and time-consuming than going to trial. Courts may require you to go through ADR before proceeding with a lawsuit in court. However, there are also situations in which ADR is specified in a contract, or the parties believe that it would be beneficial and mutually agree to use ADR. There are different types of ADR, including mediation, arbitration, settlement conferences, and neutral evaluation. Different circumstances may call for different approaches.

In mediation, a third-party neutral known as a mediator assists the parties in coming to a resolution. The resolution may not represent either party’s ideal outcome. It may simply be a compromise in the interests of avoiding expensive or protracted litigation. Unlike a judge, a mediator cannot force conflict resolution or make orders. However, they can show each side the weaknesses in their case in the interests of encouraging them to settle.

Arbitration is a little different. This type of ADR is appropriate when the parties want to avoid the time and costs of trial, but they want a third party to decide their dispute. An arbitrator will hear evidence from each side, as a judge might. The arbitration may be non-binding arbitration or binding arbitration, in which the parties agree to accept a final decision from the arbitrator and waive trial and appeal.

Retain a Pleasanton Attorney During a Dispute

Civil trials are demanding and can be expensive. If you need a seasoned business lawyer, you should consult our firm. We have many years of trial and transactional experience from which to draw in the course of civil litigation and alternative dispute resolution. Call the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch at (925) 463-2575 or complete our online form. Our firm represents clients in the Pleasanton area and throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.