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The law of contracts allows entities to contract for many things. You can stipulate where disputes will be litigated, and you can declare what state’s laws should be used for resolving the arguments made in that litigation. When it comes time to negotiate and draft your next commercial contract, deciding on the venue and the law for resolving disputes will be among many vital considerations. Count on an experienced Atlanta commercial contracts lawyer to help you through every step from negotiation to litigation.

So, what happens if your commercial contract contains a venue selection clause but no choice of law provision? This contract dispute from the federal court in Atlanta offers a good illustration.

The parties were “a provider of consulting and sales services to educational institutions” and a provider “of data and analytics products and services to educational institutions.” The parties’ sales referral agreement said that the consulting firm “would act as the exclusive referrer for all of [the data analytics company’s] solicitation of business from the Houston Independent School District.”

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There are lots of ways that a knowledgeable Atlanta commercial litigation attorney can help your Georgia case. Some are things that you probably can identify readily, while others are less obvious. For example, what if a statute that impacts your case gets changed by the legislature while your lawsuit is going on? What happens then? You reasonably might not know, but rest assured that your experienced lawyer will, and will know how to use that change to your optimal benefit.

That’s exactly what happened in one breach of contract case from Savannah. A large manufacturer and supplier of industrial-use sulfuric acid sued the Tampa, Florida-based contractor it hired to renovate a storage tank at the supplier’s Savannah facility.

Allegedly, the Florida firm committed multiple errors, resulting in sulfuric acid leaking from the base of the tank. The Florida entity did its work from 2000 until January 2002. The supplier discovered the leak almost 10 years later, in July 2011. It filed suit in January 2012.

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When your company is sued for a business tort and/or breach of contract, you inevitably have many concerns. One of those is making sure there’s fairness, including fairness concerning the appointment of people who will make factual findings. If an improper person is named in your case, you can take action, but you must know how to take action. Having an experienced Atlanta commercial litigation attorney on your side can pay invaluable benefits to you and your business when it comes to ensuring that your process is a fair one.

Here in Georgia, the court rules allow a judge to appoint what’s called a “special master.” A special master, under the rules, may potentially address the parties’ pre-trial motions, conduct accountings, hold trial proceedings, and make recommended findings of fact, among other things. In other words, this master may have many jobs similar to things a judge might do.

The person holding this role should be free of conflicts. If that’s not the case, then you can potentially use the appointment of an improper master as the basis for a successful appeal, as a recent business tort case from South Georgia illustrates.

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When you have a commercial tenant who breaches its lease by improperly failing to make a repair, you’ve suffered financial harm in multiple ways. If you had to make the repair yourself, then you’ve suffered damages related to the cost of that repair. If the tenant’s failure to repair prevented you from leasing the space for a period of time, then you have lost rent while the property was under repair and unoccupied. On top of those things, you’re out the cost of the legal services your skillful attorney put in handling your case. If you’re a commercial landlord dealing with a failure-to-repair issue, it is important to ensure you have the right Atlanta commercial litigation attorney on your side to make certain that you don’t simply get an award of damages, but the full sum that you’re truly owed.

A commercial landlord in Athens found itself facing that kind of problem recently. The agreement it signed with the tenant said that the tenant was “responsible for making all repairs to all of the improvements on the premises, including the interior and exterior walls, roof, paved access, and parking areas.”

The lease also said that, if the landlord or the tenant sued “to enforce any covenant of this lease or for the breach of any covenant or condition,” then the two sides agreed “that the losing party shall pay to the prevailing party a reasonable attorney’s fee, which shall be fixed by the court, and court costs.”

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While Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is modeled upon the federal RICO Act, it has some very clear differences that make Georgia’s RICO law more expansive than its federal counterpart. Even still, Georgia’s RICO law is limited in scope and, in many cases where it’s asserted as a claim, the alleged wrongdoing doesn’t fall within the narrow goalposts the law erects. If your ordinary business dispute has spun up into a claim of Georgia RICO violations by the other side, make sure you have an Atlanta RICO attorney experienced in handling these cases and in getting the claim dismissal or other positive outcome you need.

There are actually several ways that a civil claim under Georgia’s RICO law can come up short. For one thing, O.C.G.A. Section 16-14-4(a) requires that a RICO plaintiff prove that the defendant, by use of a “pattern of racketeering activity” or the proceeds from that activity, obtained “an interest in or control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property of any nature, including money.”

This last requirement was what felled one businessman’s recent RICO claim. That businessman, L.D., was someone who, according to some news reports, frequently acted as an intermediary between college football players and professional football agents.

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When you are locked in a dispute that leads to commercial litigation, there are several things that go into a successful outcome. Some of those are related to the facts of the dispute, but others are wholly unrelated to the factual matters. Instead, they turn solely on issues of the law and the rules of court procedure. Success, then, relies on not simply having a strong command of the facts of your case but also issues of law and procedure and how to use those to protect your business. This is one of the many reasons why it pays to rely on an experienced Atlanta commercial litigation attorney to handle your case.

If you have brought your lawsuit in state court, you have obviously done so because you and your legal team have concluded that the state court is the best place to litigate and to obtain a fair outcome that will fully compensate you for the harm you suffered. Given that, what you may have to overcome is an effort by the other side to move the case to federal court.

Fortunately, though, there are several potential ways to attack an effort by the other side to relocate your case from state court to federal court. As a recent breach of contract case illustrates, one of those relates to something called “diversity jurisdiction.”

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As a businessperson, you must face many challenges. One of the challenges your corporate entity may encounter is the disgruntled shareholder. Fortunately, the law limits what disgruntled shareholders can do by prohibiting them from undertaking a direct lawsuit (limiting them only to shareholder derivative suits) in many, though not all, situations. Whether you are a shareholder of a corporation needing to defend itself against an improper direct action or are a shareholder who needs to take legal action, you are someone who should retain the services of an experienced Atlanta business attorney to help you navigate your case.

Here’s an example from right here in the Metro Atlanta area. T.C., P.S. and K.W. were the three corporate shareholders of a suburban Atlanta-based mortgage lender. Each had a 1/3 interest in the company. After several years, the business failed, and the lender ceased operations.

T.C. subsequently filed a direct lawsuit against the other two shareholders, along with a number of corporate structures that P.S. and K.W. controlled, alleging that the defendants were liable for breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment and violations of Georgia’s RICO Act.

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Whenever you’re preparing to enter into a commercial contract, there are several things that must be done right. Two of these are (1) proper negotiating to get a satisfactory deal and (2) making certain that the written agreement reflects the deal that you negotiated. Each of these steps (and more) is a place where an effective Atlanta commercial contracts attorney can help you advance your business interests. Retaining the right attorney and getting the right contract are vital because once you sign, the courts are probably going to enforce whatever the terms are in the written agreement.

For an example, consider this federal court case between a Florida-based CBD oil distributor and a Central American hemp-based biotechnology supplier. The supplier and the distributor inked a deal in 2014 making the Florida company the exclusive distributor of the supplier’s products.

The relationship went south quickly. Four months after signing, the distributor canceled the contract, accusing the supplier of shipping impure CBD oil in contravention of the agreement’s requirements. The supplier fought back by demanding arbitration of its claims of breach of contract, conversion and tortuous interference. The dispute went to arbitration, where the supplier scored a resounding victory.

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Business and commercial venture breakups are a bit like marital breakups… you hope that everything will proceed smoothly and amicably, but it often doesn’t. When you’re a member of an LLC who has decided to leave the company, you may often simply want to go your own way. Sometimes, though, the LLC won’t let that happen. When that happens to you, make sure you have the legal protection you need from a vigilant and experienced Atlanta commercial litigation attorney.

J.O. was one of those kinds of LLC members. Back in 2014, he was one of the members who formed a Conyers-based multi-level marketing LLC. In 2017, after experiencing concerns about his compensation as well as the company’s leadership, J.O. decided to leave the company. Around the same time, J.O. signed up as a customer of another multi-level marketing entity.

After J.O. left the company, the LLC sued him on the basis that he had breached the LLC’s operating agreement. According to the LLC’s complaint, J.O., who had been a vice president of sales, had breached his contractual obligations by working for a competing company.

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In any commercial contract dispute, details matter. The difference between defeat and success can be just one word that was excluded or included in your agreement, or it could be a statutory obligation your case triggered that you didn’t know existed. That’s why you need more than just mere legal representation; you need a knowledgeable Atlanta commercial litigation attorney who is fully versed on all the ins, outs and nuances your case can implicate.

A breach of contract case from here in North Georgia is a good example. The underlying contract involved a Marietta-based property owner that leased its property to various businesses, including a gas station in Norcross. The contract between the two sides stated that the lessor and the lessee would share the earnings that the machines generated on a 50-50 basis.

In a lot of circumstances, any dispute that arose between the two LLCs would have been resolved through ordinary civil litigation. This was not one of those circumstances. The machines whose earnings generated this dispute were “coin-operated amusement machines,” which are regulated by the Georgia Lottery Commission (GLC).

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