The term “commercial litigation” generally refers to lawsuits or other disputes regarding business issues. Commercial litigation is often referred to as business litigation. If your business is involved in a lawsuit or if your dispute involves an investment, breach of contract, fraud, or other business-related issues, you are involved in commercial litigation.
When you are involved in litigation, you need an attorney who can help you focus on your objectives and navigate you to a successful resolution. We understand that litigation is costly and often, mentally-taxing for you. Our commercial litigation attorneys endeavor to achieve the best outcome for you. Some clients prefer to resolve a dispute through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods; some prefer to fight it out in the courtroom. Whatever the outcome you desire, our focus is always client-centric at Ritter Spencer.
Our attorneys have successfully handled numerous business lawsuits and disputes in state and federal courts throughout Texas and across the United States, including breach of contract, LLC member disputes, partnership disputes, trademark infringement, copyright infringement, trade secret lawsuits, business disparagement, defamation, unfair competition lawsuits, shareholder derivative disputes, fraud and misrepresentation claims, tortious interference with contract, creditor recovery, lender liability, breach of fiduciary duty, business torts, and many others claims and lawsuits.
Commercial Contract and Trade Disputes
Most successful businesses have disputes with their customers or their creditors. Depending on the nature of the relationship, these disputes may result in litigation. For many conflicts, the Uniform Commercial Code, commonly called the UCC, governs many business transactions and supplies necessary terms that may not be included in the contract. The UCC is a fairly descriptive set of laws and rules designed to promote uniformity in contract interpretation, performance, and enforcement.
In Texas, the UCC is found in the Texas Business and Commerce Code and governs sales of goods and warranties, equipment leases, negotiable instruments and check transactions, certain other financial transactions, including letters of credit, bank transfers, and bills of lading, as well as security interests, including liens on accounts receivable and inventory, and investment securities. In addition to the UCC, many other laws and treaties, including the Convention on the International Sale of Goods, may be applicable to the sale and trade of goods and services.
Many small business owners invest their funds in a business and take on a role in operating the business. Others invest money to purchase shares, units, or interests of the business. These investors may be protected by the securities laws of the United States and Texas. When their investments are not returned as promised, or their portfolio suffers losses, these investors seek liability from the brokers or dealers that sold them the investments or from the issuers. Very often, required disclosures under federal law or Texas law were not sufficiently made. Sometimes investors were sold investments that were not exempt from securities laws, such as investments that should only be sold to accredited, high net-worth, or more sophisticated investors. In these situations, the investors may have a valid lawsuit for the return of their investment.
Various agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Texas Securities Board and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, regulate the securities industry and provide investor protections, but these agencies often have their hands full and cannot regulate or oversee all of the security transactions occurring in a timely manner. As a result, if you believe you were taken advantage of in a securities transaction, it is important to have an experienced lawyer guide you through the process in order to determine who is liable and enforce your rights.
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
Recognizing that some businesses engage in deceptive acts and that their customers should not have to tolerate such acts, the Texas legislature enacted the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (commonly known as the DTPA), which broadly allows individuals and businesses to sue and recover treble damages against businesses and individuals engaging in deceptive acts. The DTPA is a consumer protection statute that can be used by individuals and small businesses and provides many causes of actions against businesses and individuals engaging deceptive trade practices.
Real Estate Litigation
In Texas, land is sold, leased or encumbered on a daily basis. Given the number of real estate transactions that occur in Texas it is not unexpected that many deals end up in litigation. Many statutes govern aspects of real estate in Texas, including the Texas Property Code, the Texas Business and Commerce Code, the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, the Texas Occupations Code and the Texas Natural Resources Code, among many others.
Real estate disputes may involve fraudulent real estate sales, commercial lease disputes, disputes between and among residents and property owners or home owners’ associations, governmental regulatory, permitting, and zoning disputes, landlord and tenant lawsuits, probate estate claims, lien claims, and broker and realtor litigation.
Construction projects can be complex, lengthy, and expensive and construction problems can often lead to litigation. Most construction litigation is based upon contract or some type of contractual substitute remedy, such as quantum meruit or promissory estoppel. Depending upon the work performed, a construction case can involve multiple parties. In addition, usually an insurance company may be involved for one or more of the parties. It is certainly necessary to understand the lien statutes of Texas, and other statutes, such as the Residential Construction Liability Act and the Prompt Payment Act.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Many business contracts contain an arbitration clause. Even if you have not signed an arbitration clause in a contract, you could be subject to arbitration if a related contract contains an arbitration clause. Arbitration is a method of conflict resolution that is private, instead of public as court cases are. If one of your concerns is privacy for contractual disputes, then proceeding to arbitration may be more beneficial to you. Even without signing an arbitration contract, as long as the parties agree, they can choose to resolve their conflict in arbitration. The courts interpret both the Federal Arbitration Act and the Texas Arbitration Act in favor of arbitration. There are also cases where parties did not sign a contract for arbitration but were compelled to arbitrate their business dispute under a third-party beneficiary theory.
In arbitration, the parties can choose one or more arbitrators to be the decision-maker, rather than the court. While paying for an arbitrator or arbitration panel can greatly increase the cost of the dispute, arbitration is usually a speedier process from beginning to end and there is generally less discovery. In addition, an arbitration award is usually final and is very difficult to appeal. Some clients may choose to arbitrate a dispute for these reasons.
Most judges compel mediation prior to trial on the merits of a lawsuit. Mediation is a process where parties try to resolve a matter with a third-party mediator. The mediator is a neutral party who attempts to reach a compromised resolution with the parties. You need to come prepared to mediation, knowing what your demands are and what you are willing to compromise in order to successfully mediate. At times, it may be better to reject an offer and continue to trial.
When you attend arbitration or mediation, an attorney can assist you in focusing on your objectives and navigating you to resolution. Our commercial litigation attorneys have successfully resolved numerous lawsuits in mediation and arbitration and obtained successful settlements for our clients through mediation and arbitration.