Commercial Litigation Frequently Asked Questions
I own a small, growing company with fifteen employees. Does the law require I have an Employee Handbook?
No state or federal law requires a handbook or manual, but we often recommend them to employers for clarification of office policies and procedures.
What can I do if someone who borrowed money from me refuses to repay the Note?
Depending on whether the loan was for personal or commercial purposes, and on whether the loan was secured by a real estate mortgage or other collateral, the lender may sue to collect the debt due and/or take action to liquidate collateral. Often times, the Note first requires a written demand for payment.
What rights do I have if my business partner is not giving me information and withholding profits?
While written partnership agreements typically address rights, management, and the distribution of profits, even without such an agreement, the law imposes an obligation on partners to provide access to information, refrain from self-dealing and account for their actions. Failure to do so gives rise to civil claims for accounting, breach of fiduciary duty and often, dissolution of the partnership.
What should I do if I think an employee is stealing money from my company?
The first order of business when you suspect financial misconduct by an employee is to engage a professional auditor or accountant to review financial records and internal controls. Depending on the nature of the issue, you should, where appropriate, limit or remove the suspected employee’s access to funds, bank accounts, customers, checks, etc. If proof of fraud or theft does exist, there are a multitude of criminal ramifications and civil remedies, but act quickly... employee theft is often a byproduct of personal, emotional or economic pressures that can make money rapidly disappear.
What can I do if my former sales manager who signed a non-compete is pursuing our customers?
Most well-drafted non-competes/restrictive covenants give the employer the right to seek immediate injunctive relief to stop the conduct violating the agreement and may include provisions for the recovery of provable damages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
A company that buys product from my business on credit just filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. What are my options?
Unless you are a secured creditor, the most common option is to file a Proof of Claim to ensure your share of the pro rata in the liquidation of the debtor’s non-exempt remaining assets.
My siblings and I inherited real estate from a relative’s estate and now we cannot agree on who will pay the taxes, insurances, etc. or whether we should sell it. Am I stuck in this arrangement?
No. Any person that holds a title interest in real estate may file an action for partition where the court will ultimately order a division of the property, where possible, or a public auction with a subsequent hearing on the division of sale proceeds.
The lawyer handling my personal injury case failed to sue the right party before the statute of limitations expired. Can I sue my own lawyer?
Yes. A lawyer owes his client a duty to practice with respect to the industry standard of care. Failure to sue by the statute of limitations is likely to violate that standard.
My neighbor is building a shed that blocks my view and part of it is on my property. Can a court order him to remove it if he refuses to?
Yes. An injunction or order of removal or restraint is an appropriate remedy in a boundary dispute. Before filing suit, you may want to send your neighbor a written notice of your intention and memorialize your position with a filing on the land records. It is recommended that you consult with surveyors, review title history and engage an attorney before taking any action.
My mother died and left everything to me in her Will. My estranged brother claims I influenced our mother when she was ill to sign a Will that she did not want or understand. What should I do?
The proponent of a Will should submit the original for acceptance by the Probate Court; the opponent of the Will’s admission carries a heavy burden to show the Will was a byproduct of undue influence or that the testator was of unsound mind at the time of execution.
I am a contractor with a customer who refuses to pay me. Should I record a mechanic’s lien, bring a collection action, or both?
Sometimes a mechanic’s lien is effective; sometimes it is not. If there is no equity in the liened property, or if the home owner has no intentions to sell or borrow against the property, a lien may not bring the dispute to a head, particularly if you don’t intend to foreclose the lien. Sometimes, the best approach is to file a collection lawsuit in Connecticut’s Superior Courts. If you want to record and foreclose a mechanic’s lien, strict compliance with the statute is a must. If you don’t comply, your lien will be ineffective.
I have been sued. Although I have insurance, my carrier notified me I may want to retain my own attorney. What is “excess counsel” and do I need it?
All insurance coverage is subject to policy limits. If you face a claim that exceeds your policy limit, you may be responsible for the amount of damages that exceed your policy. If you find yourself in this position, you should contact an attorney to ensure your interests are protected.