Commercial litigation (aka “business litigation”), simply put, is a lawsuit involving a business dispute. Commercial cases can involve any number of issues, such as breach of contract, violations of trust (breach of fiduciary duties, self dealing, etc.), breach of contract, real property issues (construction defect or easement disputes), or business torts (intentional interference of business relations, conversion, negligence, etc.).
Oregon is fortunate to have counties such as Lane County, Oregon, where courts have had the foresight to recognize these unique cases by establishing Commercial Courts. The most complex of commercial cases take place in federal court although more and more cases are originating in Oregon circuit courts (due to contract provisions or an affirmative choice of venue). The real problem often comes when venue is in a county with inexperienced judges who might not have adequate experience with business litigation attorneys.
What Makes a Case Complex?
Difficult Issues. Some legal and factual issues are just inherently more complicated than others. While litigating a motor vehicle accident may be as simple as determining who ran a red light with one short police report, a commercial case may involve boxes and boxes (or hundreds of thousands of computer files) of documents with lots of factual questions to be answered or complicated e-discovery requiring an outside vendor’s organizational and storage assistance. Additionally, the unique legal issues often require extensive research.
Multiple Parties. Having multiple parties by itself doesn’t necessarily make a case complex, but it often does. The more business attorneys involved in a case, the more issues and motions requiring attention and thus attorney fees. Getting multiple litigants and their attorneys into one room at the same time for court or depositions by itself seems complex at times and nearly impossible at others, although post-COVID virtual meetings has really driven down business lawyer attorney fees. Organizing discovery and responding to multiple requests for production from multiple parties at once can complicate things. Oftentimes just figuring out who to sue can take considerable time and resources.
Significant Resources. Simply put, the resources of all or some of the parties is often enough to complicate any case. Pretrial motions filed by the other attorneys in a case increases proportionate to the resources of their clients. Complex commercial attorney Mike Arnold takes pride in only litigating issues that need to be litigated. We will not waste unnecessary attorney fees creating issues out of thin air.
Lots at stake. When there is a lot at stake, parties are willing to go the extra mile in protecting their own interests. That often causes no stone to be left unturned. Where in many cases clients may be willing to leave unanswered questions, in a complex commercial case with lots of money on the line, some parties will spare no expense in looking everywhere for answers.
Controlling Costs and Simplifying the Complex Commercial Case
One sign of an effective commercial litigator is an attorney who knows how to control costs and focus efforts to where they can be most effective. It takes considerable discipline on the part of some clients (and attorneys) to leave some questions unanswered. Oftentimes, the client thinks that there is a smoking gun out there that will make or break the case. It’s a commercial litigation attorney’s job to advise you on when searching for that potential smoking gun is cost prohibitive. The most frustrating part of a commercial case is when the other side doesn’t get that advice.
Avoiding Rabbit Trails. A wise United States magistrate judge in Eugene, Oregon, cautions commercial litigants in complex cases against running down rabbit trails. Judge Thomas Coffin explains that explorers Lewis and Clark had a long and arduous journey from St. Louis to Fort Clatsop. Along the way they passed by many, many rabbit trails. Surely down some of these rabbit trails were new things to be explored and questions to be answered. However, if Lewis and Clark stopped and checked out every rabbit trail along the way, they never would have made it to their ultimate destination.
For more information about Mike Arnold’s strengths in dealing with complex cases, call 541-797-0110.