Business Litigation Claims
Sometimes businesses find themselves on the defense side of the courtroom – workers’ compensation claims, personal injury, defective products, etc.
But frequently companies are plaintiffs in disputes with other businesses. Our North Carolina business litigation attorneys have experience handling cases for business plaintiffs in a wide range of areas.
Business Litigation Cases Our Attorneys Have Handled*
- Accounting Malpractice – Blue Rhino vs. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Piedmont Venture Partners vs. Deloitte & Touche
- Construction Defects – Red Roof Inn vs. Woofter Construction & Irrigation and Strait Associates Architects
- Legal Malpractice – Chase Development vs. Fisher, Clinard & Cornwell
- Lender Liability – Haygood Reserve vs. First Tennessee Bank
- Commercial Defamation – My Gallons vs. US Bancorp and Voyager Fleet Systems
- Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices – Burton’s Pharmacy vs. CVS Caremark
Why Businesses May Need a Plaintiff’s Lawyer
When involved in a dispute as a plaintiff, some business owners may assume that their company’s defense lawyers are just as capable on the plaintiff’s side. Our business litigation lawyers – some of whom have been on both the defense and plaintiff side – believe this assumption could be a big mistake.
The differences between being a defendant’s lawyer and being a plaintiff’s lawyer are as stark as being a quarterback and a linebacker, believes litigation attorney Gary W. Jackson. With more than 30 years litigating business and individual disputes he says, “They play the same game on the same field, but their goals, skills, and methods, are very different.”
Multiple decisions must be made at every step, and which side your lawyer represents will dictate each side’s strategies. Jury selection, opening statements, examination of witnesses – the entire case will have a different strategy from either perspective. To arbitrate or not? Which court to choose? Which county? Case presentation.
Defense lawyers representing business plaintiffs normally charge on an hourly basis. Our firm usually handles these matters on a contingency fee. The inherent advantage of having a seasoned plaintiff’s trial lawyer represent a business plaintiff on contingency is that this type of fee avoids overbilling and presents a mutual interest between the lawyer and the client.
Some of our business litigation lawyers have handled multiple million dollar and multi-million dollar lawsuits* as plaintiff’s attorneys. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin combines hands-on business litigation and trial experience with innovative strategies and methods reinforced by an extensive network of technological and human resources.
Many of our lawyers have told us that among the reasons they joined our firm is because, not only do we have the financial resources to handle large complex claims, in their opinion we have some of the best technological resources in the state. This allows them to focus on trying to present the very best strategy for their clients.
North Carolina Business Litigation Claims
Business interruption claims typically deal with revenue loss and associated costs that could have been avoided but for the interruption. Typically, business interruption claims deal with loss from property damage and lost income due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane, flood, wildfires, or other catastrophic events. Occasionally, businesses will have insurance policies which cover these losses. But even in those cases, some insurance companies have been known to try to cut corners to limit recovery.
Sometimes man-made events can precipitate business interruption claims, as many Outer Banks businesses experienced during the Ocracoke/Hatteras electrical blackout in 2017 when PCL Construction cut the islands’ only electrical lines while working on the new Bonner Bridge. PCL prepared a claim form for businesses to complete, presumably for damage recovery. What many of these businesses may not realize is that getting fully compensated is not as easy as filling out a form.
Business Claims Brought Against Insurers
Responsible business entities have insurance policies which cover some of the losses they may incur through personal injury, property damage, or other adverse events. However, it is not uncommon for companies to have disputes with their insurers about the scope or amount of coverage. Our firm has extensive experience dealing with insurance companies that routinely challenge plaintiffs’ claims or amount of damages in the personal injury context. We are very familiar with insurance companies’ tactics to try to minimize their payouts. These same principles apply in the assertion of claims by businesses against their insurers. In some instances the insurers’ conduct warrants bringing bad faith claims against them.
When a business hires an accounting firm to record, interpret, and communicate its financial condition, the accounting firm has a duty to perform its work in a manner consistent with industry standards, rules, and guidelines. Failure to satisfy this duty can result in injury to the company, its shareholders, or its partners. Examples include:
- Improper auditing of financial statements
- Providing inaccurate or erroneous tax guidance
- Erroneous advice regarding accounting matters
- Inventory errors
- Noncompliance with generally accepted accounting standards
This is by no means an exhaustive list of why you may need a plaintiff’s lawyer to try to address the negligence of your accounting firm.
One of our attorneys represented a national company* in a lawsuit against a multi-national accounting conglomerate for accounting malpractice, negligence, and breach of contract. The case was resolved after going to trial**. In a separate case, he represented limited partners* against another “Big Four” accounting firm related to millions of dollars of losses that plaintiffs contended should have been discovered and shared by the accounting firm.
Legal malpractice claims can be brought against a company’s attorney for negligence. One of our attorneys represented a business partnership* that owned a group of hotels. The partnership was forced into bankruptcy and had hired a bankruptcy law firm to handle the proceedings. The law firm erroneously and negligently exposed the principals to personal liability. The bankruptcy law firm was sued for legal malpractice and the hotel owners were able to achieve a favorable judgment** after the completion of a bench trial.
Although construction defect cases often arise in the residential context, businesses who own real property can also face these problems. Construction defects may be the responsibility of the general contractor, subcontractor, components manufacturer, architect, or any combination of these parties. Such defects may involve structural flaws, product failures, moisture intrusion, or other building issues. In some instances, serious safety issues can arise. Others present threats to employee and occupant health, such as toxic mold resulting from moisture intrusion. Even those defect claims that do not bear on health and safety may potentially result in substantial monetary claims.
One of our attorneys represented the owners of hotels* that developed serious moisture intrusion problems due to defective construction. The defects created an environment conducive for toxic mold. The result of the defective construction caused one of the hotels to close until the problem was resolved and it was again considered safe to the public. The attorney sued for construction defects and business interruption costs.
Lender liability claims can arise from any number of lender practices and methods which, not surprisingly, usually favor the lender:
- Obscure contract clauses
- Technical loan violations
- Improper default notices and foreclosures
- Failing to renew a loan
Sometimes in business loans, the contracts can contain hundreds of pages of fine print that can be virtually unintelligible and may potentially go unrecognized by the borrower.
These lender practices typically manifest during economic downturns when lenders seek to cut their losses. Remember 2008 when millions of businesses and mortgages were suddenly in “default” and business and homeowners foreclosed upon? One of our lawyers represented a large developer* in North Carolina against a lender. He recalled, “When the events of 2008 began to unravel, the bank trumped up all kinds of excuses to call in loans for a lot of builders they had on their books. My client – a large and successful builder – was forced into bankruptcy. A lot of builders were.”
Financial institutions often have deep pockets that enable them to hire large corporate defense law firms. As a result, it can be difficult to identify a plaintiff’s law firm in North Carolina with the financial resources to litigate against these well-funded lender defense attorneys.
Not only do we have the financial resources to take on these defense firms, in many cases our clients enjoy the benefits through a contingency fee arrangement. In other words, they pay no attorney fees unless we recover for them.
We have recovered in excess of $700 million for more than 30,000 clients in North Carolina since 1997**. Plus, in one of our proudest moments, we helped lead a team of law firms in obtaining a historic $1.25 billion** settlement for 18,400 claimants who were discriminated against by the United States government.
Commercial defamation occurs when a person communicates a statement that is false and/or damaging to the reputation of a business or professional of the business, and makes this information available to others. Typically such statements include misinformation that can injure the business, a trade, or a person’s ability to earn a living. One of our attorneys won a $4 million** jury verdict on behalf of a national corporation* against a major international accounting firm.
Examples of commercial defamation are many, but some of the more wide-spread include:
- Implications and statements regarding dishonest or corrupt behaviors, such as cheating or forgery
- Statements about poor credit or financial health
- Misstatements about the company’s abilities or experiences
Antitrust laws exist to promote healthy competition among businesses, resulting in fairer consumer choices and pricing. Claims may arise from such offenses as price-fixing, bid-rigging, price discrimination, predatory pricing, monopolization, “tying” agreements, territorial restrictions, and other anticompetitive acts. The cases are based on a firm’s activities which target a competitor, a distributor, or even a consumer. Here are a few examples:
- A national manufacturer with 60% of the resilient flooring market requires its distributors to purchase unwillingly its carpet products (“tying”)
- Manufacturers of gypsum collude to maintain equal pricing, resulting in consumers paying artificially inflated amounts
- A global “superstore” chain lowers its prices below cost in order to force small competitors out of the market
Antitrust violations can take many different forms and arise in many different circumstances.
We are currently serving as counsel for a North Carolina city in a federal Multi-District Litigation class action in New Jersey. The suit seeks to recover alleged overcharges to municipalities and their customers for purchases of liquid aluminum sulfate, a product used to purify water supplies. The city alleges that defendant manufacturers of the product conspired to eliminate competition by fixing prices, rigging bids, and allocating customers. The city also alleges that their unlawful scheme cost cities – and their citizens – hundreds of millions of dollars.
Purchasing and operating a franchise often presents an attractive opportunity to individuals who want to start and run their own business. While franchises such as Chick-fil-a, Sports Clips, and Little Caesars’s Pizza are largely success stories, other franchises have left unwitting purchasers with devastating financial consequences. In some instances, there arise disputes over the geographic territory the franchisee may serve, the products it may sell, the services it may offer, or the prices it may charge. Franchisors require written franchise agreements. Those contracts usually provide that any dispute between the franchisor and the franchisee be resolved through binding arbitration. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin offers experience with these relevant issues and our attorneys stand ready to represent franchisees.
Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
The North Carolina Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices Act provides powerful protection to both consumers and businesses victimized by corporate misbehavior. The term “unfair or deceptive” has been broadly interpreted by our courts to encompass a wide range of wrongful and injurious conduct. Parties may be held liable for such offenses as misrepresentation, theft of trade secrets, product disparagement, and other misdeeds. The purpose of the act was to provide civil means to maintain ethical standards between persons engaged in business dealings with other business or consumers. The law applies where there is an unfair or deceptive act in or affecting commerce that injures another party.
The statute was designed to fill gaps left uncovered by “common law” claims such as fraud. Prevailing parties may recover triple damages as well as attorneys’ fees.
Get a Free Case Evaluation From North Carolina Business Litigation Lawyers
If you have a business dispute, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. We have attorneys on staff that have either litigated or settled numerous million and multimillion dollar business litigation lawsuits**. If we take your case, we will work toward developing a legal strategy to try to help maximize your recovery.
* Some cases listed were handled prior to attorney’s association with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.
** Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Re Historic litigation against the U.S. government, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin led a team of firms to recover $1.25 billion for African-American farmers from the U. S. government for discrimination.