Disagreements and misunderstandings are almost impossible to avoid when running a business. Many happen because people in all sincerity just look at the same situation or the same document in completely different ways. Some because of mistakes or oversights, and some because of fraud or dishonesty. Not all of them will go to court. It often makes more sense for the parties to work out a solution themselves by negotiation or with the help of a mediator.
But sometimes litigation is necessary. That’s what the courts are there for, after all. Litigation is almost never fun, but with an understanding of the process and some preparation, you can reduce the pain factor and increase your chances of success. Here are some strategies to help you prepare for the business litigation process in Minnesota.
Preserve and Gather Evidence
The strength of your case relies heavily on the quality of evidence you can provide. As soon as you recognize that a dispute has arisen, start to collect documentation – and not just the stuff that supports your position. You don’t want to delete or destroy documents that have anything to do with the dispute; if you do, a judge might tell a jury they can assume those documents were harmful to your case. So err in favor of keeping things. If your business has employees, tell them to preserve all information and refrain from deleting anything until the case has concluded.
As you get into the lawsuit, you will work with your attorney to determine which documents best support your position and counter the other side’s. Your lawyer will be able to ask the other side for documents (including electronic materials like emails, texts, pdfs, word processing and spreadsheet files, web pages, and social media posts) that are relevant to the case – and they’ll be able to ask for yours. If you have your evidence collected already, that process is faster and less expensive – and that preparation shows the other side that you are ready to pursue your case.
Avoid Communicating With The Other Party
You know that “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law” thing you hear in all the cop shows? It probably applies to your lawsuit, too. You may still need to communicate with your opposing party to keep business going, but once you know that litigation is on the horizon, be careful about what you say. It may be a good idea to limit communications strictly what’s necessary to fulfill any ongoing obligations. A good rule of thumb? Assume anything you say or write is going to end up in front of a judge or jury. . Even seemingly innocuous emails to the opposing party may be misconstrued and used to weaken your case. The less you say, the less opportunity for it to be used against you.
Explore Your Dispute Resolution Options
The start of a lawsuit doesn’t mean the end of your other opportunities to settle your dispute. In fact, more than 90 percent of cases settle before trial. Sometimes the parties have to work through the exchange of evidence and maybe argue some motions before the judge before they feel they know enough to settle, but it is an option open to you at any time. You want to be comfortable with settlement and not feel forced into it, but the sooner you do it the less expensive and less consuming the lawsuit will be.
In Minnesota, courts require the parties in nearly every lawsuit to try some type of alternative dispute resolution in the months before trial. Most of the time, the alternative parties and their lawyers choose is mediation. Rather than leaving the outcome in the hands of the court, mediation encourages the parties to shape a workable solution both parties can live with.. If, with the mediator’s assistance, they can’t find that mutual solution, they can leave the question in the hands of the judge and jury.
Call Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074 to discuss your business dispute resolution options in Minneapolis and St. Paul with a knowledgeable and friendly business law attorney.