Our deep ties to the business community and our long-term relationships with our business clients have provided us with a perspective that recognizes that “victory” in a business dispute can be an illusion if it consumes the valuable time and resources of our clients. We work one-on-one with our clients to create litigation strategies that preserve resources and get results. Our focus is on finding the most efficient resolutions of disputes while achieving our clients’ goals. Whether that resolution occurs at the courthouse or at the negotiating table, Rushing & Guice’s experienced commercial litigators take a thorough and calibrated approach that puts our clients in the best position for trial or settlement discussions.
Business v. Business Disputes: Commercial litigation arises from disputes between businesses. Our business lawyers handle a wide range of commercial litigation matters, including disputes involving:
- Breach of contract
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Business and real estate purchase/sale and leasing agreements
- Business torts
- Collection of substantial debt
- Commercial landlord-tenant disputes
- Construction and construction management agreements
- Employment agreements
- Franchise agreements and disputes
- Mechanics liens
- Non-competition, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements
- Shareholder and partnership disputes
- Trade secrets
- Unfair competition
- Vendor/customer agreements
Breach of Contract Litigation: One of the most common forms of commercial litigation is based on breach of contract claims. All businesses rely on the trust placed in employees, third party contractors, and vendors to engage in commerce. When that trust is broken, it can affect all aspects of a business: operations, profits, consumer confidence. At Rushing & Guice, we have successfully litigated breach of contract actions, on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants. When we represent plaintiffs, we have succeeded in restoring our client businesses. When we represent defendants, we vigorously defend against finding fault. Business recoveries might include:
- Compensatory damages: Reimbursement for immediate monetary loss
- Consequential and incidental damages: Compensation for additional foreseeable losses caused by the breach
- Attorney fees and costs: Amounts available only if the contract expressly states they are recoverable
- Liquidated damages: Amounts specified in the contract that are payable for particular breaches, such as late or substandard performance
- Specific performance: Court order requiring the breaching party to fulfill the terms of the contract
- Punitive damages: Penalty for a party’s objectionable behavior, meant to punish the breaching party and discourage other parties from acting in a similar manner
- Rescission: Cancellation of the contract, with both sides excused from further performance and payments made under the contract returned
- Reformation: Change in the terms of the contract when the court believes there was an honest misunderstanding by the parties about what was to be performed
Complex Commercial Litigation: Complex business litigation often involves multiple corporate entities located in multi-state locations requiring suit in federal court with a different set of rules and procedures. These disputes often involve large amounts of money, misuse of intellectual property, fraud and deceptive trade practices, or even complex employee disputes. The lawyers at Rushing & Guice can manage the complexity of litigation while our clients continue to focus on maintaining their businesses.
Negotiation, Mediation, Arbitration, and Litigation: There are many ways to resolve commercial disputes in the Mississippi and Gulf Coast business arena. At Rushing & Guice, we work with clients to explore the relative advantages of each available forum: negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Time and money, as well as business interruption and stress, can sometimes be avoided by employing alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration. Other times, however, the best results can come only from the threat of litigation. By working together with our corporate clients, we can devise a strategy that minimizes disruption of operations and gets the results our clients want.
Attorney’s Fees—Who Pays? In most cases, Mississippi follows the American rule that each party to a litigation must pay for its own legal services. There are three exceptions to this rule:
- A contract that is in dispute between the parties that contains a provision that the losing party must pay for attorney’s fees and the cost of litigation, in addition to any damages awarded.
- If the losing party has acted in a way that makes the award of punitive damages appropriate.
- When the Mississippi legislature has passed a law requiring the payment of attorney’s fees by the losing party.
Here are some examples of how attorney’s fees might be awarded under Mississippi statutes. Mississippi authorizes the payment of attorney’s fees under the Mississippi Litigation Accountability Act, if a frivolous lawsuit is filed. The court may award the defendant reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, if:
- A claim or defense was asserted without substantial justification,
- A claim or defense was made for the purposes of delay or harassment, or
- Parties or their attorneys engaged in improper conduct to unnecessarily expand the lawsuit.
Attorney’s fees and costs may also be awarded under Mississippi statutory authority for unsolicited residential telephone calling, in shareholder derivative suits, when a successful plaintiff in an open account suit wins an award equal to the demand amount, misappropriation under Mississippi Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and if an out-of-state business fails to pay commissions to a Mississippi sales representative. There are other instances where attorney’s fees can be awarded, although these remain exceptions to the rule that attorney’s fees are paid by the individual parties.
Because of the cost, distraction, and imposition of litigation, the lawyers at Rushing & Guice will explore the best ways to resolve your commercial disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Rushing & Guice, P.L.L.C: Mississippi and Gulf Coast Commercial Litigation Lawyers
At Rushing & Guice, experienced commercial litigation representation is a phone call away. Call us at (228) 374-2313 or fill out our online form to arrange for a limited initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you, and look forward to the opportunity to serve as your attorneys.