Commercial – Civil Litigation Attorney
Grand Rapids West Michigan Experienced Civil Litigator
Grand Rapids, Michigan, Civil Litigation Attorney
In the greater Grand Rapids and Western Michigan area, there are thousands of small and medium sized businesses, most of which will at some time experience business disputes. Unfortunately, these disagreements can distract you from the important task of running your business. Business disputes often involve:
- Breach of contract and purchase agreements
- Non-performance of contracts
- Construction defects
- Real estate and property disputes
- Company ownership issues
- Mechanics’ liens, title disputes, and more.
Whether you are being sued in a civil matter or feel that you have been wronged by a company, a lending institution, a bank, or another business, do not wait to get help. Having a lawyer at your side can often solve the problem without the need for litigation. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, then you need an experienced civil litigator to represent your interests in court
Problems with a Contract?
While having a lawyer in initial stages of negotiation and contracting is incredibly helpful to troubleshoot and thus avoid future problems, unfortunately, many times a business lawyer is an afterthought. Many businesses and individuals think they do not need an attorneys assistance when reviewing a service contract, buying a house, obtaining a line of credit, negotiating a contract, or entering into a financial transaction. Unfortunately, the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” remains true. In our experience, trying to save a few dollars now can result in a very costly and expensive problem later.
Most people are unaware of the actual obligations and consequences that can arise when you sign your name on the “dotted line.” But, most just autograph it anyway. Many people don’t realize that most oral agreements are enforceable in Michigan and create a binding contract!
When problems arise stemming from issues with a contract of any type, it is always in your best interest to have a lawyer at your side. In the early stages your attorney can help facilitate negotiation to effectively resolve your claim in an efficient manner. The last thing you want to deal with as either a business owner or operator, or a consumer, are time consuming legal problems.
We understand that whether you are a business owner or a consumer you have legal needs. We understand these needs include resolving disputes and claims expeditiously, efficiently, and effectively so you can get on with your life. While there are never guarantees, we will work hard to help solve your problems before you have to resort to litigation. Many cases are settled outside of court with the help of experienced attorneys. It is always best to have a lawyer in your corner before a problem even finds its way into court.
Making Sure You Have a Case.
If you have to resort to litigation it is important to have an able attorney by your side. It is unwise to try to represent yourself. When you file a lawsuit, there are many court rules that you must follow. Judicially made law (common law), statutes, and court rules must be followed, or else the court will may rule against you or dismiss your case. If you miss a deadline or make too many mistakes, you could potentially lose the opportunity to pursue your claim for good.
Of course, filing your a claim, or defending yourself or your company depends on whether you have a valid legal issue. Attorney Bruce Alan Block has experience in identifying valid contract and business disputes, filing insurance and financial claims, prosecuting and defending mechanics liens, assisting in the resolution of real property claims, and handling other general civil litigation. He has handled suits from both plaintiff and defendant’s viewpoints, and knows how to handle your case.
Where to file your claim?
After you determine that you have a valid dispute, the next question is where to file your claim. You will need to determine the proper court that has jurisdiction, or the power to hear your claim. Jurisdiction is determined by the amount of money you seek or the type of relief sought. So if your money damages are less than $25,000 you would bring your claim in the district court; however, if you want the court to order someone to stop doing something, such as an injunction or other equitable relief, you would have to bring that claim in the circuit court.
Another consideration is whether the court is the appropriate ‘venue’ for your case. Venue is determined by state law. The court must have jurisdiction and also be located in a physical location sufficiently tied to the claim. Venue is usually proper in the following locations: where the defendant resides or has a principle place of business. In some cases, venue can be where the claim arose. It is best to have an attorney help you decide these issues, or you may risk either losing your case from the beginning or have to re-file it and pay the filing fees and costs twice.
Making Your Case.
Once you have found the proper court to file your lawsuit, or if you’re being sued, the next step is to determine the next step. If you are filing the lawsuit, you will need to prepare and file a complaint that sets forth the reasons and legal theories that support your position. If you’re being sued, you must file an answer or take some action to challenge the claim being brought against you. If you sue someone or file an answer to a complaint without consulting an attorney, you could potentially waive a counterclaim or a possible defense. Michigan law and court rules require that certain claims and defenses be made at specific times, or they are waived and you can no longer argue those defenses.
Usually you have twenty one calendar days (including weekends) after being served with a complaint to file an answer. If you do not answer in time, you will have a default and a default judgment entered against you. Once a default is in place, it means that the other side wins without you ever having your day in court. A default is similar to admitting that you did whatever you are getting sued for, simply because you failed to respond and file an answer. It is very difficult to get a court to set aside a default or a default judgment. Usually it is an expensive and an uphill battle. It is best to avoid default by contacting and hiring an attorney immediately after being served with legal papers. If you cannot afford an attorney or need additional time, one option may be for you to go to the courthouse and fill out and fill out a simple written answer, where you respond to each statement and either (a) admit, (b) deny, or (c) state that you can neither admit nor deny because you do not know. Although this last route is not recommended, it may buy you some additional time to find and hire a lawyer.
In addition to the court documents (called pleadings), Michigan has procedural court rules that must be followed. The Michigan Court Rules provide timetables, rules, and guidelines for civil lawsuits. These court rules are followed by every court in Michigan, and must be followed. Typically, once a complaint and an answer has been followed, a investigatory phase begins which is called ‘Discovery.’ Discovery, as the name suggests, is the investigatory phase of your case. Much of the evidence in support of or in defense of your claim will be learned during discovery. You can send written questions to the other side that must be answered under oath, request written documents, and you can schedule depositions.
Discovery must be conducted according to the procedural court rules. If you are representing yourself and do not avail yourself of this important and critical phase of your case, you will forever lose the chance to learn valuable information. If you do not provide answers to questions or requests for documents, you could be found in contempt of court and a judgment entered against you for failing to follow the rules. If you do not know what you are doing, discovery can be very costly and time consuming.
You should be aware that most cases never make it to trial. A case can be won or lost long before you have your day in court. Prior to trial, either side can request that the court rule in their favor (a Summary Disposition Motion). The court will look at the pleadings and evidence, and then decide if you have a viable case or defense, or in the alternate that you do not have a case (or defense), and either issue a judgment or dismiss a case. A court will often do this when there are no facts are in dispute. For example, there is no dispute that you signed a contract and you owe the plaintiff money, the only question is how much. In other cases, the law may preclude a party from going forward with the claim. It takes an experienced attorney to recognize how, and more importantly, when to file and respond to pretrial motions that may dispose of a case without a trial. It is important to have an attorney familiar with the pretrial process who can guide you through each step of the way.
Court is Now In Session.
Once a case makes it through the various stages and goes to trial, you really need an experienced lawyer to guide you. Conducting a trial is a difficult task and having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial. From jury selection, presentation of witnesses and evidence, to preserving issues for appeal, an attorney’s expertise and knowledge are unparalleled. An experienced civil trial litigator knows what witnesses to put on the witness stand, the type of factual testimony to bring out, and the proper questions to ask.
Trial strategy and civil litigation techniques are not learned in a day. A civil litigation attorney practices a learned trade, a craftsmanship and skill only learned through years of hands-on experience. Whether you are being sued in a civil matter or feel that you have been wronged by a company, a lending institution, insurance company, or other business, having a lawyer at your side can often resolve major problems before they land in court. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, then you need an experienced civil litigator to represent your interest.
Was Your Business Line of Credit Arbitrarily Canceled?
If the line of credit for your business was canceled without justification or good cause by your bank or lending institution, you should contact an attorney immediately, before singing anything! to make sure your rights were not violated. At our law firm, we believe that banks exist to lend money. They are not supposed to cancel or call a line of credit without good cause or a proper business reason. DO NOT sign a proffered forbearance agreement without first talking to an attorney!!! See our Business Line of Credit page for additional information.
Attorney Bruce Alan Block has well over twenty years of civil litigation experience, and can provide comprehensive legal advice and business law services. Attorney Block will personally attend to your case and see that your interests are properly argued and defended in court.
Remember, if you have been sued, talk to an attorney immediately! If you fail to timely respond or answer the complaint, you will be defaulted. Default means the other party will obtain a full money judgment against you, and can garnish your wages, seize your tax refund, garnish bank accounts, and more. This could cause your business to close.
Contact our West Michigan civil lawsuit attorney for a consultation. Call (616) 676-8770.
Bruce Alan Block, PLC
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1155 East Paris Ave SE, Suite 300 Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 676-8770
Serving Clients throughout Western Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Ada, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Cascade, Wyoming, Byron Center, Wyoming, Caledonia, Cascade, Rockford, Holland, Grand Haven, Grandville, Kent, Barry, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Montcalm, and Ionia County.