Commercial litigation refers to disputes between business and/or disputes between businesses and their customers, vendors or suppliers. The experienced New Jersey commercial litigation attorneys at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P. C., in Scotch Plains, handle complex commercial litigations and disputes in Union County and throughout the State. We are experienced in litigating in both federal and state courts as well as private arbitrations in commercial litigation matters. We have also represented businesses who are being sued relating to a commercial transaction or those who have made claims against other businesses and customers.
There is a wide range of commercial disputes that frequently occur in New Jersey. It can happen to businesses of any size:
Breach of Contract
Many commercial disputes arise when one party to a contract violates the terms of the contract, resulting in harm to one or more other parties to the contract.
Businesses such as pharmaceutical companies, medical groups, companies with large sales forces, and securities firms typically include restrictive covenants in their employment contracts. These can include non-competition agreements, non-solicitation (of customers and/or former co-employees) agreements and trade secrets agreements.
Consumer Fraud Act
The Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., primarily deals with deceptive sales practices by businesses involving consumers.
It is not uncommon for disputes to arise among corporate shareholders, LLC members and partners. Disagreements over the division of profits, payouts vs. investing in the business and the treatment of minority shareholders can lead to contentious arguments among officers, members and partners. Sometimes those disputes can be resolved through negotiation. Many times, they cannot.
Collection cases occur when one party claims it is owed money by a second party to whom goods and/or services were provided but not paid for. That party may claim, in turn, that the goods that were sold were defective. Or the party may allege the services provided were inadequate.
There are also instances when one party, a lender, must collect on an unpaid promissory note. In New Jersey, a promissory note evidences a loan and repayment plan between a debtor and lender.
In addition, the note should indicate such details as the loan amount, repayment schedule, interest, and what happens if the debtor has a late payment or defaults on the note.
If the debtor does miss payments, or defaults on the note, the lender may sue the debtor to enforce the note.
Commercial landlords and tenants can get in disputes over payment of rent, failure of the landlord to provide promised improvements to the property or damage to the property by the tenant’s employees or customers.
New Jersey Trade Secrets Act
The Trade Secret Act, N.J.S.A., 56:15-1, et seg. broadly defines what is a trade secret in New Jersey. A trade secret in New Jersey can be a formula, design, invention, technique, pattern and many more things.
It must have an independent economic value. Also, the owner of the trade secret takes reasonable steps to maintain the secrecy of the item.
The Act not only bans the taking of the trade secret, but lets the owner go to court if the actor is just threatening to disclose the trade secret.
The Act also provides for significant monetary and injunctive penalties.
Tortious Interference in New Jersey
New Jersey courts recognize two types of tortious interference with business relationships. One involves interference with a contract. The other involves interfering with the plaintiff’s prospective economic advantage. Attorneys at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C. have extensive experience pursuing and defending against claims for both types of interference.
Tortious interference with a contract
In order to prove a claim of tortious interference with a contract, the plaintiff must show:
- The defendant actually interfered with the contract;
- The defendant, who is not a party to the contract, acted intentionally;
- The interference was not justified; and
- The interference damaged the plaintiff
Tortious interference with prospective economic advantage
To prove this type of tortious interference, the plaintiff must show that she had a reasonable expectation of economic advantage from an expected business relationship.
The plaintiff must prove she had a reasonable expectation of a continuing and beneficial relationship; the hope of having one, or the possibility of having one, is not enough.
The plaintiff must prove the defendant acted intentionally and with malice.
Moreover, the defendant’s intentional acts caused the plaintiff to lose the prospective economic advantage.
Lastly, the injury to the plaintiff caused monetary damages.
How Are Commercial Disputes Resolved?
Given the number of businesses in New Jersey, and the number of business transaction, it is not surprising that commercial disputes occur.
Most attorneys would urge their clients to resolve their commercial dispute by negotiation. Settling a dispute through negotiation saves all sides time, attorneys’ fees and other costs.
If the parties cannot settle the dispute between themselves, perhaps a mediator can assist.
In a mediation, the parties agree on a mediator. A mediator meets with the parties and their lawyers. The mediator listens to both sides and aids the parties in arriving at a mutually agreeable settlement.
In many civil cases, courts can order the parties to mediate a case before they set it for trial.
Arbitration is faster and, in some cases, cheaper method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Again, the parties themselves can agree to arbitrate.
In an arbitration, the parties agree on an arbitrator, or the controlling contract identifies the arbitrator to be appointed. The arbitrator conducts a hearing. She accepts evidence and listens to the testimony of witnesses. The arbitrator, who basically acts as a judge and jury, then decides which side wins and how much money is awarded as damages (if the plaintiff wins).
New Jersey Court Rule 4-21A requires certain cases to participate in mandatory non-binding arbitration. It is non-binding in that a party can request the arbitrator’s decision be vacated and trial de novo after the arbitration ruling if the party does not agree with the arbitrator’s decision.
New Jersey Commercial Litigation Attorneys
There are many types of commercial litigations that arise in New Jersey. The experienced New Jersey commercial litigation lawyers at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P. C., have extensive experience in handling all types of commercial litigations.
Besides the commercial litigations mentioned above, the firm represents its lender clients in restructuring troubled loans, forbearance agreements and foreclosure proceedings.
We also represent clients in borrower bankruptcies and reorganizations, asset recovery actions, including replevin actions, and other creditors’ rights remedies related to preservation and recovery of collateral.
In troubled automobile dealer floorplan financing, we have a unique understanding and perspective that we can add to the workout process given our wealth of experience across the entire automobile dealership industry.
We have assisted large-scale companies, including automobile dealerships, in filing and processing insurance claims and, when needed, litigating on behalf of the company against the insurance carrier.
If your business is considering suing another business, or another business is threatening to sue you, call the New Jersey commercial litigation attorneys at Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P. C., at their Scotch Plains office at 908-490-0444 or email them here.