Our Practice Commercial Business Hero

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.

Insurance disputes

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.

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