Breach of Contract Attorney in Jacksonville

The Roth Law Firm represents businesses, landowners, and other commercial parties in commercial litigation. This covers a vast array of cases. After all, litigation is a fancy way to talk about lawsuits, which are a mechanism to resolve disputes. Put plainly then, we help businesses resolve a wide swath of conflict.

This includes breach of contracts.

JB and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent you whenever you cannot, or another party will not, perform their obligations under a contract. Those cases can arise from several circumstances, such as:

✔ Collection, when one party does not pay as agreed

✔ Delivery of defective products

✔ Providing unsatisfactory services

✔ Failing to do everything that the contract requires

✔ Misrepresentations by one party to lure the other into signing the contract in the first place

✔ Termination of employment if the employee had an employment contract

✔ The need to stop an ongoing breach (perhaps a violation of a non-compete or the unauthorized use of trade secrets) or preventing an anticipated future breach

This applies to all forms of contracts:

✔ A purchase and sale agreement setting the terms for the sale of a business

✔ A standard contract for the sale of some products or the performance of some services

✔ An employment contract

✔ A non-compete

✔ A partnership agreement, shareholder agreement, or an LLC’s operating agreement

✔ Non-disclosure agreements, better known as NDAs. Though they have acquired a bad name in the settlement of harassment lawsuits, more often, they simply aim to keep trade secrets secret

✔ A lease

✔ A loan

✔ A contract conveying real estate

✔ Even a settlement agreement that had meant to resolve the conflict

✔ Or just about anything two or more parties agree to do, and they legally bind themselves to do it. Many verbal contracts are just as enforceable as their more formal written cousins

The issues we encounter in breach of contract claims are equally varied. They may include:

✔ The enforceability of the contract

✔ Whether the contract can be canceled and following what process

✔ The materiality of the breach

✔ Whether the party breaching might be excused from performing

✔ The amount of damages

✔ The availability of remedies other than money damages

We represent our clients throughout the State of Florida in both State and Federal courts—County Courts, Circuit Courts, and Federal District Courts. We can take cases from the Keys to the Alabama border, from Jacksonville/Duval County to Miami-Dade, and everywhere in between, including of course our home base on the First Coast.

Pre-litigation

The Roth Law Firm is very efficient at handling conflicts experienced by businesses before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before either side has filed papers in Court.

We will attempt to resolve the problem your business is facing before having to spend a lot of time and money in court if possible. JB was a businessman before he was a lawyer. We understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

When disagreement over a breach of contract proceeds to Court, as they often do, you can expect a long process. A lawsuit that proceeds all the way to trial frequently takes a year and a half or more. Looking at it from 30,000 feet, it will be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

Pleadings refer to the first set of documents the parties file in court. Those documents do not try to prove of anything. They merely put each party on notice of what the other claims. Whether those claims are true and may be proven will be determined over the rest of the lawsuit.

There will always be at least two documents filed as pleadings. The case starts with the plaintiff’s complaint, which alleges that certain things happened, and that the plaintiff should be compensated for them. Then the defendant answers by saying which allegations are true (some will be) and which are denied.

The defendant has the option to do a few other things, two of which are frequent. They may state legal theories in defense of the claims—theories under which, even if the facts alleged could be proven, the defendant is not responsible. And they can bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff. It is easy to imagine a dispute over a contract where each side claims the other is at fault.

The Discovery Phase

Discovery is the part that everyone loves to hate. It is invasive and time consuming. But it is a crucially important process. This is where each side finds out what the other has, who will actually say what on the stand, and so on and so forth.

This is done through several mechanisms. Each side produces the documents the other side demands, each asks the other to answer questions in writing under oath, and takes the other’s deposition. Subpoenas allow for documents and testimony from third-party witnesses to be obtained as well.

The Judgment Phase

Once the documents and testimony uncover the facts, one of two things will happen. If the facts are uncontested, if everybody agrees on what happened, just not on what it means under the law, the Court will be in a position to hand down a judgment without trial.

More often, testimonies will conflict, memories will differ, and the parties will have a trial. A trial’s basic rhythm is known to most people. It follows a familiar pattern, with jury selection (unless it is a bench trial), opening arguments, witnesses called, examined, and cross-examined, documents admitted in evidence, and so on.

What is less obvious is the amount of work leading to trial. If there is a jury, it is the lawyers who prepare jury questionnaires to select it. They will also prepare the instructions that will be read to the jury from the bench at the end of trial. All those are then submitted to the judge for approval. The parties also exchange witness and evidence lists, and argue over their admission ahead of the trial itself.

Depending on the size of the case, this can take a substantial amount of time.

After the Judgment

If the plaintiff obtained a judgment in their favor, they may still need to collect it. The good news is that mechanisms exist to obtain the court’s assistance in doing so. Courts do not like the idea of their judgments being worth no more than the paper on which it is printed.

Conversely, there may also be post-trial challenges to the verdict. Short of an appeal, those can include motions to increase or decrease damages, for a new trial, for attorneys’ fees, to reform the judgment, etc.

Settlement

Just as surely as it can be necessary to go to trial, the vast majority of civil cases settle beforehand.

Many settle in mediation. Mediation is a low-pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room while the mediator goes back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They may not force any result on any party. They merely help the parties negotiate. And yet, surprisingly often, that exercise leads to a settlement.

JB has spent a long time developing the skills to help his clients make the most of mediation. Roth Law Firm clients have the benefit of our business experience, legal expertise, and ability to think outside the box and be creative when called upon.

Issues Arising in Breach of Contract Cases

In cases involving breach of contract, some issues are frequent flyers in the courtroom. They include the following:

Was the contract binding?

A contract is a series of obligations or promises enforceable in court. But not all promises a contract make. The courts will only enforce an agreement where both parties had a comparable understanding of its meaning, at least when it comes to its essential terms. For example, if the parties continued to negotiate after the purported contract, that will be evidence that they had not quite reached an agreement yet. Or if terms are left out that are critical to their bargain, then there is no contract.

Bear in mind that while many verbal contracts are binding, not all are. Others must be in writing to be recognized in court. This includes (and these are only two examples) contracts conveying an interest in real estate, or large contracts for the sale of goods.

Was the Contract Breached?

In Florida, a breach means a material breach. Departing from a minor or tangential obligation will not necessarily open the courthouse’s doors. It won’t, for instance, if such inconsequential breach did not harm the other party. Or if one party forgot to do something that made it into a contract, but which the other side had not requested in the first place. Similarly, not all delays in receiving payments or delivery are actionable breaches.

Was the Breaching Party Excused from Performance?

Here, courts must sometimes split hairs. For instance, unexpected difficulty or expense will not excuse one from performing under the contract. But if unforeseen circumstances make performance impossible in practice, the courts will not demand it or impose damages. Prior breach of the same contract will also often excuse performance by the other party. There are, in fact, a collection of available defenses. None are easy to prove, and judges will not readily let a breacher home free. But they will be considered if applicable to the situation at hand.

Was the Contract Properly Canceled?

Most contracts have a definite duration. Some also have terms in place if one party needs to cancel part-way. What are the consequences of canceling? Were proper procedures followed to cancel it? Who bears the risk if the contract must be canceled? What remedies are available for an unpermitted or improper cancelation?

Who Can Enforce the Contract?

Some contracts involve multiple parties. Can any party enforce all provisions? What if the provision in question was not one benefitting the would-be plaintiff? And can several parties be liable for the breach of one of them? In some circumstances, yes. There are also, though more rarely, cases where the contract is meant to benefit someone who is not part of it. Those beneficiaries would be entitled to enforce the contract in court.

How to calculate damages?

The first question in that regard will be when the breach occurred. Damages are calculated at the time of the breach. This can lead to expert fights over forensic accounting. Then there are different types of damages: direct, indirect, consequential, liquidated, etc. Not all apply all the time. Consider also how lost profits are not the same thing as lost revenue, and depending on the contract, either one could be the way to measure damages.

Can the Court Force a Party to Perform?

Plaintiffs will occasionally ask the Court to issue orders compelling a party to perform as agreed, instead of asking for money damages. This can only be granted when money would not compensate the non-breaching party. It occurs more frequently in cases of intellectual property, trade secrets, non-competes, or real estate, where damages are ongoing or unique. But it can occur in unexpected ways. Though not routine, such orders are not unheard of.

We Can Help You

Not all areas of law are created equal or require the exact same set of skills. The Roth Law Firm is positioned to represent Florida businesses in breach of contract cases. We offer the benefits of a smaller firm: we know our clients well and are devoted to them. And the Law is the Great Equalizer: each party is ultimately represented by one lawyer making their arguments to one judge or jury.

We have the business sense and legal smarts to guide you through a breach of contract lawsuit, to settlement when possible, to trial when needed, and arrive at the best possible outcome under the law.

If you or your business is experiencing a conflict that might require the Courts’ intervention, please call us for a consultation. We will take good care of you.


See Contract Lawyer

The Roth Law Firm represents businesses, landowners, and other commercial parties in commercial litigation. This covers a vast array of cases. After all, litigation is a fancy way to talk about lawsuits, which are a mechanism to resolve disputes. Put plainly then, we help businesses resolve a wide swath of conflict.

This includes breach of contracts.

JB and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent you whenever you cannot, or another party will not, perform their obligations under a contract. Those cases can arise from several circumstances, such as:

✔ Collection, when one party does not pay as agreed

✔ Delivery of defective products

✔ Providing unsatisfactory services

✔ Failing to do everything that the contract requires

✔ Misrepresentations by one party to lure the other into signing the contract in the first place

✔ Termination of employment if the employee had an employment contract

✔ The need to stop an ongoing breach (perhaps a violation of a non-compete or the unauthorized use of trade secrets) or preventing an anticipated future breach

This applies to all forms of contracts:

✔ A purchase and sale agreement setting the terms for the sale of a business

✔ A standard contract for the sale of some products or the performance of some services

✔ An employment contract

✔ A non-compete

✔ A partnership agreement, shareholder agreement, or an LLC’s operating agreement

✔ Non-disclosure agreements, better known as NDAs. Though they have acquired a bad name in the settlement of harassment lawsuits, more often, they simply aim to keep trade secrets secret

✔ A lease

✔ A loan

✔ A contract conveying real estate

✔ Even a settlement agreement that had meant to resolve the conflict

✔ Or just about anything two or more parties agree to do, and they legally bind themselves to do it. Many verbal contracts are just as enforceable as their more formal written cousins

The issues we encounter in breach of contract claims are equally varied. They may include:

✔ The enforceability of the contract

✔ Whether the contract can be canceled and following what process

✔ The materiality of the breach

✔ Whether the party breaching might be excused from performing

✔ The amount of damages

✔ The availability of remedies other than money damages

We represent our clients throughout the State of Florida in both State and Federal courts—County Courts, Circuit Courts, and Federal District Courts. We can take cases from the Keys to the Alabama border, from Jacksonville/Duval County to Miami-Dade, and everywhere in between, including of course our home base on the First Coast.

Pre-litigation

The Roth Law Firm is very efficient at handling conflicts experienced by businesses before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before either side has filed papers in Court.

We will attempt to resolve the problem your business is facing before having to spend a lot of time and money in court if possible. JB was a businessman before he was a lawyer. We understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

When disagreement over a breach of contract proceeds to Court, as they often do, you can expect a long process. A lawsuit that proceeds all the way to trial frequently takes a year and a half or more. Looking at it from 30,000 feet, it will be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

Pleadings refer to the first set of documents the parties file in court. Those documents do not try to prove of anything. They merely put each party on notice of what the other claims. Whether those claims are true and may be proven will be determined over the rest of the lawsuit.

There will always be at least two documents filed as pleadings. The case starts with the plaintiff’s complaint, which alleges that certain things happened, and that the plaintiff should be compensated for them. Then the defendant answers by saying which allegations are true (some will be) and which are denied.

The defendant has the option to do a few other things, two of which are frequent. They may state legal theories in defense of the claims—theories under which, even if the facts alleged could be proven, the defendant is not responsible. And they can bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff. It is easy to imagine a dispute over a contract where each side claims the other is at fault.

The Discovery Phase

Discovery is the part that everyone loves to hate. It is invasive and time consuming. But it is a crucially important process. This is where each side finds out what the other has, who will actually say what on the stand, and so on and so forth.

This is done through several mechanisms. Each side produces the documents the other side demands, each asks the other to answer questions in writing under oath, and takes the other’s deposition. Subpoenas allow for documents and testimony from third-party witnesses to be obtained as well.

The Judgment Phase

Once the documents and testimony uncover the facts, one of two things will happen. If the facts are uncontested, if everybody agrees on what happened, just not on what it means under the law, the Court will be in a position to hand down a judgment without trial.

More often, testimonies will conflict, memories will differ, and the parties will have a trial. A trial’s basic rhythm is known to most people. It follows a familiar pattern, with jury selection (unless it is a bench trial), opening arguments, witnesses called, examined, and cross-examined, documents admitted in evidence, and so on.

What is less obvious is the amount of work leading to trial. If there is a jury, it is the lawyers who prepare jury questionnaires to select it. They will also prepare the instructions that will be read to the jury from the bench at the end of trial. All those are then submitted to the judge for approval. The parties also exchange witness and evidence lists, and argue over their admission ahead of the trial itself.

Depending on the size of the case, this can take a substantial amount of time.

After the Judgment

If the plaintiff obtained a judgment in their favor, they may still need to collect it. The good news is that mechanisms exist to obtain the court’s assistance in doing so. Courts do not like the idea of their judgments being worth no more than the paper on which it is printed.

Conversely, there may also be post-trial challenges to the verdict. Short of an appeal, those can include motions to increase or decrease damages, for a new trial, for attorneys’ fees, to reform the judgment, etc.

Settlement

Just as surely as it can be necessary to go to trial, the vast majority of civil cases settle beforehand.

Many settle in mediation. Mediation is a low-pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room while the mediator goes back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They may not force any result on any party. They merely help the parties negotiate. And yet, surprisingly often, that exercise leads to a settlement.

JB has spent a long time developing the skills to help his clients make the most of mediation. Roth Law Firm clients have the benefit of our business experience, legal expertise, and ability to think outside the box and be creative when called upon.

Issues Arising in Breach of Contract Cases

In cases involving breach of contract, some issues are frequent flyers in the courtroom. They include the following:

Was the contract binding?

A contract is a series of obligations or promises enforceable in court. But not all promises a contract make. The courts will only enforce an agreement where both parties had a comparable understanding of its meaning, at least when it comes to its essential terms. For example, if the parties continued to negotiate after the purported contract, that will be evidence that they had not quite reached an agreement yet. Or if terms are left out that are critical to their bargain, then there is no contract.

Bear in mind that while many verbal contracts are binding, not all are. Others must be in writing to be recognized in court. This includes (and these are only two examples) contracts conveying an interest in real estate, or large contracts for the sale of goods.

Was the Contract Breached?

In Florida, a breach means a material breach. Departing from a minor or tangential obligation will not necessarily open the courthouse’s doors. It won’t, for instance, if such inconsequential breach did not harm the other party. Or if one party forgot to do something that made it into a contract, but which the other side had not requested in the first place. Similarly, not all delays in receiving payments or delivery are actionable breaches.

Was the Breaching Party Excused from Performance?

Here, courts must sometimes split hairs. For instance, unexpected difficulty or expense will not excuse one from performing under the contract. But if unforeseen circumstances make performance impossible in practice, the courts will not demand it or impose damages. Prior breach of the same contract will also often excuse performance by the other party. There are, in fact, a collection of available defenses. None are easy to prove, and judges will not readily let a breacher home free. But they will be considered if applicable to the situation at hand.

Was the Contract Properly Canceled?

Most contracts have a definite duration. Some also have terms in place if one party needs to cancel part-way. What are the consequences of canceling? Were proper procedures followed to cancel it? Who bears the risk if the contract must be canceled? What remedies are available for an unpermitted or improper cancelation?

Who Can Enforce the Contract?

Some contracts involve multiple parties. Can any party enforce all provisions? What if the provision in question was not one benefitting the would-be plaintiff? And can several parties be liable for the breach of one of them? In some circumstances, yes. There are also, though more rarely, cases where the contract is meant to benefit someone who is not part of it. Those beneficiaries would be entitled to enforce the contract in court.

How to calculate damages?

The first question in that regard will be when the breach occurred. Damages are calculated at the time of the breach. This can lead to expert fights over forensic accounting. Then there are different types of damages: direct, indirect, consequential, liquidated, etc. Not all apply all the time. Consider also how lost profits are not the same thing as lost revenue, and depending on the contract, either one could be the way to measure damages.

Can the Court Force a Party to Perform?

Plaintiffs will occasionally ask the Court to issue orders compelling a party to perform as agreed, instead of asking for money damages. This can only be granted when money would not compensate the non-breaching party. It occurs more frequently in cases of intellectual property, trade secrets, non-competes, or real estate, where damages are ongoing or unique. But it can occur in unexpected ways. Though not routine, such orders are not unheard of.

We Can Help You

Not all areas of law are created equal or require the exact same set of skills. The Roth Law Firm is positioned to represent Florida businesses in breach of contract cases. We offer the benefits of a smaller firm: we know our clients well and are devoted to them. And the Law is the Great Equalizer: each party is ultimately represented by one lawyer making their arguments to one judge or jury.

We have the business sense and legal smarts to guide you through a breach of contract lawsuit, to settlement when possible, to trial when needed, and arrive at the best possible outcome under the law.

If you or your business is experiencing a conflict that might require the Courts’ intervention, please call us for a consultation. We will take good care of you.


See Contract Lawyer


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900