Business Matters & Contracts

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Commercial Litigation Services

Our business clients are counseled in the areas of corporate, employment and tax law, and products liability. Our services in business law are designed to keep businesses operating lawfully and to protect their interests in cases of civil disputes. We represent generations of businesses and families. We treat every client as if they are our only client. We understand the pressure of high stakes litigation.  We provide a balance of superior legal knowledge with compassionate advocacy. Our representation  encompasses most types of sophisticated litigation. We can handle cases involving consumer fraud, breach of contract, accounting,  shareholder and investor rights, class actions, insurance, business torts, executive compensation, partnership disputes, civil rights, real estate, product liability, defamation, trade secrets, patent, trademark, copyright, professional liability, RICO, and most other significant commercial issues.


Additionally, we represent clients at all stages in the life of a business from inception to formation through growth, transition and winding down.  We analyze which corporate structure is best suited for your needs and we put the pieces together for you so that you can focus on your passion.   We counsel and handle complex litigation for our business clients in disputes with other businesses, government entities, and individuals.​ We have extensive experience in drafting formation agreements, confidentiality agreements, independent contractor agreements, buy-sell agreements, as well as to negotiate contracts, resolve partnership disputes and advise on the tax implications of various business dealings. We are committed to developing solutions to help our clients solve their toughest problems, and we approach each new challenge as an urgent business matter to be resolved expeditiously and cost-effectively. Some of our business litigation practices include but are not limited to: 

  • Breach of Contract/Fiduciary Duty 
  • Business Torts 
  • Partnership Disputes 
  • Private Deals/Post-Closing Disputes 
  • Bad Faith Litigation 
  • Restrictive Covenant/Trade Secret Litigation 
  • Insurance Disputes
  • Trademark/Copyright Infringement 
  • Trademarking Brands
  • Brand Misrepresentation 
  • Adwords Misrepresentation


Employment Law & Litigation

We represent private and public sector employers in a wide variety of industries and can represent our clients before federal, state and local administrative agencies and in federal and state courts. We remain on the cutting edge of the emerging and changing employment laws including discrimination, sexual harassment, wage-and-hour matters, reductions in force, non-competition agreements, trade secrets and employment contracts. We understand the value of preventing disputes and avoiding governmental and regulatory investigations, and can counsel clients on how to remain in compliance with state and federal employment laws.


We can assist with the following employment law issues:

  • Wage & Hour Laws
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administrative Laws
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Contract Negotiations
  • Severance Agreements  

Mediation Representation

A mediator is a person, often a lawyer, who has special training and experience to try to settle legal disputes by remaining a neutral party.  The mediator has no power to force a settlement or decide an issue, but helps resolve a dispute by facilitating communication between the parties. 


When lawyers are involved, normally each opposing party is in a separate room, along with his or her lawyer.  After a brief introduction to the process and the signing of a mediation agreement, the mediator goes back and forth between the rooms to discuss the issues and try to reach agreement on each one of them.  When lawyers are not at a mediation, sometimes the opposing parties meet together with the mediator, and sometimes the mediation is in separate rooms, depending on the wishes of the parties.  Even when the parties start out in the same room, there are times when the mediator may want to meet separately with each party to candidly discuss certain issues, some of which may remain confidential. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will either write a letter summarizing the agreement, or prepare a short agreement that the parties will sign before they leave the mediation.   


If no agreement is reached at mediation, then nothing is binding, and the court cannot hear about any offers you may have made during the mediation. If you reach an agreement on some or all of the issues, you can: (a) have the mediator draft an agreement at the end of the mediation, for the parties to sign; (b) have the mediator prepare a letter after the mediation, summarizing the agreement; or (c) let the parties tell their attorneys what the agreement is, and let the attorneys prepare the final documentation. If nothing is signed by the parties, then the agreements reached may not be binding.  If an agreement is signed by both parties, and someone changes his or her mind and refuses to comply with the agreement, then it will be up to the judge to decide if the agreement is binding, just like any other contract. Decisions about division of assets and debts are more likely to be binding than decisions about the children, which can always be reviewed by a judge.  In any event, you should go to mediation with the intent to reach a binding agreement, and to comply with that agreement after the mediation. Otherwise, you are only wasting your time and money.   


If some or all of the issues in your case do not settle, then you can go to trial in front of a judge, who will decide the issues for you.  The judge is not allowed to hear about any offers you may have made to the other side during the mediation process. Further, the mediator is not allowed to testify about what happened in mediation. 


Attorney Shanthy Balachanthiran served as a Mediator for the Attorney General's Office in cases between consumers and businesses and has the experience and knowledge to assist you with your mediation needs, whether it is as your attorney representing your interests in a mediation or as the mediator. Call (239) 823-4541 today to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

Arbitration

Arbitration is the private, judicial determination of a dispute, by an independent third party. An arbitration hearing may involve the use of an individual arbitrator or a tribunal. A tribunal may consist of any number of arbitrators though some legal systems insist on an odd number for obvious reasons of wishing to avoid a tie. One and three are the most common numbers of arbitrators. The disputing parties hand over their power to decide the dispute to the arbitrator(s). Arbitration is an alternative to court action (litigation), and generally, just as final and binding (unlike mediation, negotiation and conciliation which are non-binding). The object of arbitration is to obtain a fair resolution of disputes by an impartial third party without unnecessary expense or delay.


Arbitration, while being nicknamed the ‘businessman’s method of resolving disputes’, is governed by state and federal law. Most states have provisions in their civil practice rules for arbitration. These provide a basic template for the arbitration as well as procedures for confirmation of an arbitrator’s award (the document that gives and explains the decision of an arbitrator), a procedure that gives an award the force and effect of a judgment after a trial in a court. Many states have adopted the Uniform Arbitration Act, although some states have specific and individual rules for arbitration.


Supporters of arbitration hold that it has a multitude of advantages over court action, including the following:

  • Choice of Decision Maker – The parties can choose the attorney they want to serve as the arbitrator.
  • Efficiency – Arbitration can usually be heard sooner than it takes for court proceedings to be heard. As well, the arbitration hearing should be shorter in length, and the preparation work less demanding.
  • Privacy – Arbitration hearings are confidential, private meetings in which the media and members of the public are not able to attend. As well, final decisions are not published, nor are they directly accessible. This is particularly useful to the employer who does not want his ‘dirty laundry’ being aired.
  • Convenience – Hearings are arranged at times and places to suit the parties, arbitrators and witnesses.
  • Flexibility – The procedures can be segmented, streamlined or simplified, according to the circumstances.
  • Finality – There is in general, no right of appeal in arbitration. (Although, the court has limited powers to set aside or remit an award). 
  • No Appeal – Unless there is evidence of outright corruption or fraud, the award is binding and usually not appealable. 


Typical Steps in an Arbitration

The process of arbitration differs among cases. The following is a list of the main steps in arbitration, however it should not be viewed as an exhaustive list.

  • Initiating the Arbitration – A request by one party for a dispute to be referred to arbitration.
  • Appointment of Arbitrator – Arbitrators may be appointed by one of three ways: (1) Directly by the disputing parties, (2) By existing tribunal members (For example, each, each side appoints one arbitrator and then the arbitrators appoint a third), (3) By an external party (For example, the court or an individual or institution nominated by the parties).
  • Preliminary Meeting – It is a good idea to have a meeting between the arbitrator and the parties, along with their legal council, to look over the dispute in question and discuss an appropriate process and timetable.
  • Statement of Claim and Response – The claimant sets out a summary of the matters in dispute and the remedy sought in a statement of claim. This is needed to inform the respondent of what needs to be answered. It summarizes the alleged facts, but does not include the evidence through which facts are to be proved. The statement of response from the respondent is to admit or deny the claims. There may also be a counterclaim by the respondent, which in turn requires a reply from the claimant. These statements are called the pleadings. Their purpose is to identify the issues and avoid surprises.
  • Discovery and Inspection – These are legal procedures through which the parties investigate background information. Each party is required to list all relevant documents, which are in their control. This is called discovery. Parties then inspect the discovered documents and an agreed upon selection of documents are prepared for the arbitrator.
  • Interchange of Evidence – The written evidence is exchanged and given to the arbitrator for review prior to the hearing.
  • Hearing – The hearing is a meeting in which the arbitrator listens to any oral statements, questioning of witnesses and can ask for clarification of any information. Both parties are entitled to put forward their case and be present while the other side states theirs. A hearing may be avoided however, if the issues can be dealt with entirely from the documents.
  • Legal Submissions – The lawyers of both parties provide the arbitrator with a summary of their evidence and applicable laws. These submissions are made either orally at the hearing, or put in writing as soon as the hearing ends.
  • Award – The arbitrator considers all the information and makes a decision. An award is written to summarize the proceedings and give the decisions. The award usually includes the arbitrator’s reasons for the decision.

Attorney Shanthy Balachanthiran has the experience and knowledge to assist you with your arbitration needs, whether it is as your attorney representing your interests in an arbitration or as the arbitrator. Call (239) 823-4541 today to schedule a complimentary consultation.