Commercial Litigation Attorney in Jacksonville

At the Roth Law firm, small businesses are a big deal.

We focus our attention on representing businesses, landowners, and other commercial parties who find themselves thrown into the world of commercial litigation on the First Coast and throughout Florida.

Commercial Litigation is a fancy way to talk about businesses (the “commercial” part) involved in lawsuits (the “litigation” part). In turn, a lawsuit is a way to resolve a conflict. So by practicing commercial litigation, we help businesses resolve disputes, usually in court, sometimes out of it.

JB Roth and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent your best interest every step of the way. For example, the types of conflict with which we can help you include:

✔ Those with other business, including breach of contract, false advertising, unfair trade practices, fraud, trade secrets, or mergers or acquisitions gone bad

✔ Those within the business, among shareholders, partners, members of an LLC, or co-owners generally, involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the operating agreement, breach of the duty of loyalty, or a petition for dissolution

✔ Those with employees or former employees, by defending claims of discrimination, retaliation, ADA, ADEA, or Civil Rights violations, or whistleblowing, as well as defending or bringing claims of breach of employment contract or non-competes

✔ Those against corporate customers in collection actions

✔ Those involving land or buildings, including construction defects, title disputes, liens, fraudulent liens, binder deposits, breach of lease, or breach of sale agreement

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 business conflicts before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before either side files papers in Court.

At that stage, we can present claims or defenses in a professional and effective manner without giving away a future litigation strategy. We are able to engage the other side, evaluate their claims or defenses, and advise you on how best to proceed. 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. At the Roth Law Firm, we understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

It is frequently necessary to bring matters to Court to resolve them to satisfaction. This is the beginning of a long process. Unlike what happens in Hollywood, where everything takes from a few minutes to a few hours from start to finish, lawsuits that proceed all the way to trial frequently take a year and a half or more.

Looking at a lawsuit from 30,000 feet, it may be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

While, in common parlance, one might call any paper filed in court a pleading, under court rules, it specifically refers to the first few sets of documents filed. The first two are the complaint, filed by the party bringing the lawsuit, who is called the plaintiff, and the answer filed in response by the other side, called the defendant.

The complaint should comprise numbered paragraphs asserting the basic facts alleged, and the claims they create. It needs not prove anything. Likewise, the answer is a pro forma document that does not aim at disproving the plaintiff’s claims. It merely admits or denies the facts alleged. (Not all alleged facts will be denied. For instance, the complaint may state that the defendant is a limited liability company. If the plaintiff’s attorney did their homework and the business sued is indeed an LLC, that will be recognized as true.)

A critically important part of the answer comes after those admissions and denials. This is where the defendant will assert specific defenses explaining why they should not be held liable, even if the facts alleged in the complaint should ever be proven true. If a defense relies on more than denying the complaint’s allegations, and introduces new facts or legal theories, it must be plead in order to be considered and ultimately ruled on by the Court. We bring great attention to every aspect of early pleadings.

The pleading phase is also when a defendant may bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff who sued them. They are called counterclaims. This is not infrequent. It is easy to think of a dispute over a contract where each side accuses the other of breaching its terms.

The Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is when the lawyers for each side develop the facts and work on proving what actually happened. They obtain documents, take testimony under oath at deposition, demand answers to written questions, and serve subpoenas on non-parties, among other discovery mechanisms.

As your attorney, we will not only investigate the other side, but also help you respond to their discovery requests. (Requests really means demands, as complete responses are mandatory.) We will prepare you for your deposition and help you sift through documents and draft your answers to written questions. The key is to be honest, thorough, and phrase the answers smartly so as not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Every litigant hates discovery. No-one wants to spend countless hours gathering documents just to give them to the party they sued or is suing them. No-one likes to have their feet put to the fire in deposition. No-one likes spending time and money sitting down over oddly worded and sometimes aggressively written questions. Yet it is an unavoidable part of any civil lawsuit.

This is also the phase of the lawsuit that generally takes the longest—often several months, as the parties go back and forth developing their cases.

The Judgment Phase

Once discovery is completed, the parties will make their case for judgment in their favor. This can come in two forms.

If, after exchanging all the documents and hearing testimony in deposition, the facts are undisputed, one or both parties will ask the Court to make a ruling there and then, without having to go to trial. This is called a summary judgment. It is relatively infrequent, especially in Florida state courts, but hardly unheard of. There are more than a few occasions when the only question is who the law favors based on established facts.

More often than not, however, if the case has not settled by now (we will talk about settlement shortly), it will proceed to trial. The 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.

Most documents obtained in discovery never see the light of the courtroom. Part of the attorneys’ job is to winnow them down to those that will help prove the case, and work to have those introduced in evidence. This is a rather technical process. Each would-be piece of evidence must be relevant, authenticated, supported by appropriate foundation, and may not be unduly prejudicial, among other factors.

Each day of trial requires two or three days of work. A lot of that work happens before the trial itself and is not obvious to the general public. 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 by the judge at the end of trial. All those are submitted to the judge for approval. Many cases have been won or lost by the inclusion or exclusion of a specific jury instruction. It is long and laborious work but one of critical importance.

The parties must also exchange, before trial, the documents they intend to introduce in evidence. Papers introduced off the cuff mid-trial are rare these days. If either side objects to the other’s proffered evidence, there will be a hearing to resolve the issue before trial.

Similarly, both sides will exchange the names of the witnesses they intend to call. Here too, if either side objects to some of the other’s witnesses, the Court will conduct a hearing before trial starts.

Additionally, some judges ask the lawyers to prepare trial briefs explaining the facts, proof, and legal theories underpinning their respective cases. This allows the judge to be better prepared to preside over trial.

After the Judgment

A Judgment is not necessarily the end of the story. Depending on the defendant, it may be difficult to collect. Various court procedures are available to a prevailing plaintiff. Courts are not fond of their judgments becoming a dead letter.

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. Settlements can end a case during any phase, from the moment the complaint is filed in Court to the minute before a judgment is filed in the public records.

Cases often settle in mediation. Mediation is a low pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room with the mediator going back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They will point out both strengths and weaknesses, encouraging the parties to compromise where warranted. They may not force any result, they may not make anyone agree to anything or force them to take a deal. Yet, surprisingly often, this 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.

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 commercial litigation. 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 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.

At the Roth Law firm, small businesses are a big deal.

We focus our attention on representing businesses, landowners, and other commercial parties who find themselves thrown into the world of commercial litigation on the First Coast and throughout Florida.

Commercial Litigation is a fancy way to talk about businesses (the “commercial” part) involved in lawsuits (the “litigation” part). In turn, a lawsuit is a way to resolve a conflict. So by practicing commercial litigation, we help businesses resolve disputes, usually in court, sometimes out of it.

JB Roth and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent your best interest every step of the way. For example, the types of conflict with which we can help you include:

✔ Those with other business, including breach of contract, false advertising, unfair trade practices, fraud, trade secrets, or mergers or acquisitions gone bad

✔ Those within the business, among shareholders, partners, members of an LLC, or co-owners generally, involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the operating agreement, breach of the duty of loyalty, or a petition for dissolution

✔ Those with employees or former employees, by defending claims of discrimination, retaliation, ADA, ADEA, or Civil Rights violations, or whistleblowing, as well as defending or bringing claims of breach of employment contract or non-competes

✔ Those against corporate customers in collection actions

✔ Those involving land or buildings, including construction defects, title disputes, liens, fraudulent liens, binder deposits, breach of lease, or breach of sale agreement

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 business conflicts before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before either side files papers in Court.

At that stage, we can present claims or defenses in a professional and effective manner without giving away a future litigation strategy. We are able to engage the other side, evaluate their claims or defenses, and advise you on how best to proceed. 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. At the Roth Law Firm, we understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

It is frequently necessary to bring matters to Court to resolve them to satisfaction. This is the beginning of a long process. Unlike what happens in Hollywood, where everything takes from a few minutes to a few hours from start to finish, lawsuits that proceed all the way to trial frequently take a year and a half or more.

Looking at a lawsuit from 30,000 feet, it may be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

While, in common parlance, one might call any paper filed in court a pleading, under court rules, it specifically refers to the first few sets of documents filed. The first two are the complaint, filed by the party bringing the lawsuit, who is called the plaintiff, and the answer filed in response by the other side, called the defendant.

The complaint should comprise numbered paragraphs asserting the basic facts alleged, and the claims they create. It needs not prove anything. Likewise, the answer is a pro forma document that does not aim at disproving the plaintiff’s claims. It merely admits or denies the facts alleged. (Not all alleged facts will be denied. For instance, the complaint may state that the defendant is a limited liability company. If the plaintiff’s attorney did their homework and the business sued is indeed an LLC, that will be recognized as true.)

A critically important part of the answer comes after those admissions and denials. This is where the defendant will assert specific defenses explaining why they should not be held liable, even if the facts alleged in the complaint should ever be proven true. If a defense relies on more than denying the complaint’s allegations, and introduces new facts or legal theories, it must be plead in order to be considered and ultimately ruled on by the Court. We bring great attention to every aspect of early pleadings.

The pleading phase is also when a defendant may bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff who sued them. They are called counterclaims. This is not infrequent. It is easy to think of a dispute over a contract where each side accuses the other of breaching its terms.

The Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is when the lawyers for each side develop the facts and work on proving what actually happened. They obtain documents, take testimony under oath at deposition, demand answers to written questions, and serve subpoenas on non-parties, among other discovery mechanisms.

As your attorney, we will not only investigate the other side, but also help you respond to their discovery requests. (Requests really means demands, as complete responses are mandatory.) We will prepare you for your deposition and help you sift through documents and draft your answers to written questions. The key is to be honest, thorough, and phrase the answers smartly so as not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Every litigant hates discovery. No-one wants to spend countless hours gathering documents just to give them to the party they sued or is suing them. No-one likes to have their feet put to the fire in deposition. No-one likes spending time and money sitting down over oddly worded and sometimes aggressively written questions. Yet it is an unavoidable part of any civil lawsuit.

This is also the phase of the lawsuit that generally takes the longest—often several months, as the parties go back and forth developing their cases.

The Judgment Phase

Once discovery is completed, the parties will make their case for judgment in their favor. This can come in two forms.

If, after exchanging all the documents and hearing testimony in deposition, the facts are undisputed, one or both parties will ask the Court to make a ruling there and then, without having to go to trial. This is called a summary judgment. It is relatively infrequent, especially in Florida state courts, but hardly unheard of. There are more than a few occasions when the only question is who the law favors based on established facts.

More often than not, however, if the case has not settled by now (we will talk about settlement shortly), it will proceed to trial. The 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.

Most documents obtained in discovery never see the light of the courtroom. Part of the attorneys’ job is to winnow them down to those that will help prove the case, and work to have those introduced in evidence. This is a rather technical process. Each would-be piece of evidence must be relevant, authenticated, supported by appropriate foundation, and may not be unduly prejudicial, among other factors.

Each day of trial requires two or three days of work. A lot of that work happens before the trial itself and is not obvious to the general public. 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 by the judge at the end of trial. All those are submitted to the judge for approval. Many cases have been won or lost by the inclusion or exclusion of a specific jury instruction. It is long and laborious work but one of critical importance.

The parties must also exchange, before trial, the documents they intend to introduce in evidence. Papers introduced off the cuff mid-trial are rare these days. If either side objects to the other’s proffered evidence, there will be a hearing to resolve the issue before trial.

Similarly, both sides will exchange the names of the witnesses they intend to call. Here too, if either side objects to some of the other’s witnesses, the Court will conduct a hearing before trial starts.

Additionally, some judges ask the lawyers to prepare trial briefs explaining the facts, proof, and legal theories underpinning their respective cases. This allows the judge to be better prepared to preside over trial.

After the Judgment

A Judgment is not necessarily the end of the story. Depending on the defendant, it may be difficult to collect. Various court procedures are available to a prevailing plaintiff. Courts are not fond of their judgments becoming a dead letter.

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. Settlements can end a case during any phase, from the moment the complaint is filed in Court to the minute before a judgment is filed in the public records.

Cases often settle in mediation. Mediation is a low pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room with the mediator going back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They will point out both strengths and weaknesses, encouraging the parties to compromise where warranted. They may not force any result, they may not make anyone agree to anything or force them to take a deal. Yet, surprisingly often, this 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.

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 commercial litigation. 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 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.


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900