Practice area Business Disputes
In the civil litigation arena, businesses most often are the ones fighting or being fought over instead of individuals. The battle between businesses or business partners is no less intense, however, and the issues are far more complicated. Nevertheless, nearly every case turns on just a few documents, statements, and personal motivations. It is our job to distill the cases to their essence and be able to explain that to a judge or jury in the context of the particular business. Our lawyers have experience analyzing, building, and presenting cases in a variety of commercial contexts.
Commercial litigation and other business disputes
South Carolina’s adoption of the Uniform Limited Liability Act in 1996 made the entry into business much more efficient. Despite best intentions, however, it did not make proper management any more uniform or exit from the business so easy. Few days, if any, have passed at Duffy & Young where we were not actively representing a businessperson or business against another owner or officer of the business involving claims for violations of duties that an officer or owner owed to his or her partners and to the company. In some of these LLC disputes and other business battles, we are able to work out a favorable “divorce” before the individuals and businesses become mired in litigation. Nevertheless, most disputes require some digging before they are ripe for resolution, and some disputes require a trial for resolution—a fact on our minds from day one of the representation.
Fraud and unfair trade practices
Few cases are more enjoyable than those where we outflank a fraudster or a business bent on breaking rules in a big way to line its owners’ pockets. No matter how smart they think they are, there is a trail showing their wrongful activity. We enjoy playing the role of detective with the power of the Rules of Civil Procedure and Court enforcement on our side. Not every case where a misrepresentation causes harm rises to the level of fraud, however, or an unfair practice that affects the public interest. Fortunately, South Carolina law also provides the ability to bring a relatively unique claim of breach of contract accompanied by a fraudulent act which allows a claimant to recover the same type of damages as in fraud cases but whose requirements of proof of the fraud are less demanding. In addition, the claim of negligent, or careless, misrepresentation is a powerful tool Duffy & Young wields in the appropriate contexts to protect clients who have been harmed from others’ misrepresentations.
No one at Duffy & Young is named David, but we have fought the insurance Goliaths on just about every front available—in declaratory judgment actions to obtain the coverage paid for and the fees for having to sue for it; “bad faith” actions exposing the insurer’s breaches of duty to the insured and winning damages as a result; cases brought as class actions challenging industry practices; and representing defendants in lawsuits to push insurance companies to step up and settle claims to protect their customers who have paid premiums religiously for that very protection.
Trade secrets claims
In 1997 South Carolina adopted The South Carolina Trade Secrets Act which is a very powerful tool for businesses to protect legitimate trade secrets. The Act specifically authorizes courts to impose injunctions and to award punitive damages and attorneys’ fees for willful misappropriation—that is, improper acquisition, disclosure, or use—of trade secrets. The law sets a pretty high bar, however, to establish that a business practice or bit of confidential information actually rises to the level of a “trade secret.” Duffy & Young has prosecuted and defended many trade secret claims.
Attorneys who can help
Brian C. Duffy
Brian C. Duffy is a trial lawyer with experience in civil cases of all shapes and sizes—from cases in the United States Supreme Court and with judgments and settlements of tens of millions of dollars to a variety of smaller disputes in South Carolina's trial courts and administrative law courts
- JD, Vanderbilt Law School
- BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
J. Rutledge Young, III
Rutledge is a Charleston native and has been a trial lawyer for close to 20 years. Rutledge has represented injured people, defrauded investors, employees, borrowers, landowners, businessmen, and closely held companies. During his career Rutledge has tried cases against banks, insurance companies, publicly traded corporations, and national product manufacturers among others. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and anyone can be held accountable through a jury trial.
- JD, University of South Carolina
- BA, University of Virginia
Patrick C. Wooten
Patrick Wooten has a broad litigation practice and more than ten years of experience litigating civil matters in state and federal courts. A former clerk to a United States District Court Judge, Patrick has experience handling small and large matters, and he looks for creative ways to solve his clients’ problems in a cost-efficient manner.
- JD, Duke Law School
- BA, University of South Carolina
John P. Linton
In over thirty years of handling civil matters for Plaintiffs and Defendants, Johnny Linton has concluded jury and non-jury trials in counties throughout South Carolina and in five Divisions of the United States District Court.
- JD, University of South Carolina
- BA, Wofford College