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Will Your Legal Dispute Become a Lawsuit?

Orlando, Florida, attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is managing partner of Bloodworth Law, PLLC, with offices in Orlando and Winter Haven.

Reed is a 2019, 2020, and 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Lawyer in Commercial Litigation. Bloodworth Law, a 2020 and 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Law Firm in Commercial Litigation, finds that litigation is a probability for many businesses.

Will Your Legal Dispute Become a Lawsuit?

Do you wonder whether your legal dispute will become a lawsuit? Whether a breach of contract, an employment law dispute, or a shareholder or partnership disputes there’s a likelihood that your business will be involved in commercial litigation.

A 2021 Small Business Association study found that 36 to 53 percent of small businesses will be involved in litigation at some point. So, it’s wise to learn the basics of the litigation process.

What is a Summons?

The first legal documents in most lawsuits are the summons and the complaint.

A summons is a who, what, where, and why of a lawsuit. The summons is a document informing the defendant that he or she is being sued, by whom, in which court, and how much time there is to reply based on law.

Complaint: Court, Claim, Demand

What is a complaint? A complaint explains which court, the reason for the claim and why the plaintiff is entitled to relief. A complaint will likely contain:

  1. The reason the court has jurisdiction over the case
  2. The reason(s) for the claim that show(s) a plaintiff is entitled to relief
  3. A demand for judgment for the relief the plaintiff is seeking

What Are Plaintiff Relief Options?

A plaintiff may seek the following forms of relief, including:

  1. Monetary relief
  2. Injunctive relief
  3. Specific performance

No Reply? Judgment By Default

If the defendant does not reply to the complaint within the time allowed judgment by default may be entered against him or her.

A judgment by default is final and usually grants a plaintiff everything asked for and is entered without any testimony or argument from the defendant.

If Defendant Answers

If there’s a reply and the defendant answers the plaintiff’s attorney, it is by serving an answer on the plaintiff’s attorney.

The answer should contain defenses to each claim made by the plaintiff, and the defendant should admit or deny the allegations.

Admit or Deny Allegations

If the defendant is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of a statement in the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendant should state that, and such a statement will have the effect of a denial.

A Motion to Dismiss

Instead of filing an answer, a defendant may file a motion in which it raises all its defenses, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint. This is known as a motion to dismiss.

Motion to Dismiss:

  1. lack of jurisdiction over the person
  2. failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
  3. lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter
  4. insufficiency of service of process
  5. failure to join a party
  6. insufficiency of process

A Motion to Dismiss Can Raise the Following Defenses:

  1. lack of jurisdiction over the person
  2. failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
  3. lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter
  4. insufficiency of service of process
  5. failure to join a party
  6. insufficiency of process

If the defendant believes the plaintiff is liable to the defendant, he or she may serve what is known as a counterclaim on the plaintiff.

Counterclaim: Defendant’s Claims vs. Plaintiff

A counterclaim is generally served with the answer, and it sets forth the defendant’s claims against the plaintiff.

A common mistake made by business owners is the attempt to resolve the complaint without an attorney. But by writing or calling to “talk things over” it’s possible you’ll make things worse.

Don’t Act Without An Attorney

Step back, read the documents, and instead talk with an experienced commercial litigation attorney. If you’re served with a legal complaint, give Reed a call and find out how Bloodworth Law can help your business.

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