If you own and operate a business, you know how thrilling—but also frustrating—the experience can be. When all is going well with your business, running it can feel incredibly rewarding. But inevitably, as you know, disputes will arise. For instance, a contractor might sue you for breaching your part of an agreement, or perhaps a customer purchased a product that resulted in an injury. A competitor might even file a legal action because they claim you stole a trade secret or did reputational harm to them through your advertising. Employees of your company, too, may accuse you of any number of infractions. Such headaches can throw your operations into turmoil if you don’t know how to handle them.
It’s all too easy to make matters worse if you react abruptly or try to take matters in your own hands. Instead, reach out for the guidance and advocacy of an experienced business litigation attorney. At Leet Law, our legal team is ready to help you navigate issues that can challenge the continuance or survivability of your enterprise. Let us handle litigation—including preparing for the business litigation process—on your behalf.
We’re proud to serve clients in San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, and throughout the Greater Bay Area. Set up a consultation today.
The Litigation Process
Most civil lawsuits end up being settled before going to court, but even that process—reaching an agreement before going to trial—is fraught with danger. Don’t go at it alone in trying to reach a settlement.
When you are served your papers for the lawsuit, you will receive a set of questions called interrogatories. You are expected to answer these and return them to the court within 30 days in California. If you fail to do so, the other party can get a default judgment on you, which means you lose without being able to put up a fight.
You need to take those interrogatories to your business litigation attorney and let that person file a response. Meanwhile, you should observe certain key steps.
Steps to Take to Prepare for Litigation
The first step is to hire an attorney. Work closely with that person and follow that person’s advice and instructions. Here are some steps, though, that can easily be mishandled—or completely ignored—by a business owner being sued. Adhere to your attorney’s plan carefully and follow these steps:
AVOID CONTACT WITH THE PLAINTIFF: You may want to contact the party suing you and try to reach an amicable settlement with them. This is not a good idea. What you say can be used as an admission of guilt if matters do go to trial. Don’t write, text, phone, or email the plaintiff. Let your attorney handle communications and any negotiations.
KEEP SILENT ON THE ISSUE: Don’t take to social media to state your case or belittle the other party. Again, this can only give added fuel to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s legal team. Just stay calm and rely on your attorney’s directions. Also, don’t discuss the case with employees or others, even management. Business partners would obviously have to be involved, but they should follow the attorney’s directions as well.
DON’T DESTROY EVIDENCE BUT GATHER AND SAFEGUARD IT: Any communications by email, text, mail, or any other documents relating to the crux of the lawsuit should be assembled and preserved, and of course, made available to your attorney. The last thing you want to do is try to destroy any records relating to the lawsuit. These records are evidence. If they go missing (destroyed intentionally or just in routine data dumps), they can be considered an “adverse inference.” This means it could be presumed that the information was damaging to your case.
PRESERVE THE CLIENT-ATTORNEY PRIVILEGE: What you discuss one-on-one with your attorney is protected information and cannot be revealed by your attorney. However, if you bring a third party with you, perhaps one of your managers who has direct knowledge necessary for the case, then the attorney-client privilege no longer applies. Simply meet one-on-one with your attorney.
CONTINUE BUSINESS AS USUAL: Keep running your operations as you usually would. Don’t get your staff worried or bothered by what’s transpiring. And don’t involve them. They may take to social media and create additional problems for you.
Put Skilled Representation in Your Corner
A lawsuit is not a DIY project, even if many are settled outside of the courtroom. You need strong legal counsel and representation to pursue the best possible result. Follow the tips above and reach out to Leet Law if your business is facing a lawsuit in the San Jose area. We give every client the personalized, one-on-one attention required to protect their rights and interests.