Small business owners or retailers have a seemingly endless list of concerns in keeping their doors open and the lights turned on. Unfortunately, sometimes they will cross paths with customers or clients who are more interested in filing a lawsuit than trying to resolve a dispute in a fair and equitable manner. It can get even worse if the plaintiff has no legal ground to stand on but still wishes to cause a big headache. Careful business planning, active employee training and good customer relations can go a long way, but businesses can still get swept up in frivolous litigation.
Most threats involving litigation do not come to fruition. However, some plaintiffs will press on, seemingly to the detriment of themselves and everyone else. Unfortunately, they may even win these cases if the business does not take them seriously.
Strategies to address these lawsuits
While the premise may seem silly or frivolous, businesses should have a plan for resolving the dispute:
- Remain calm: The courts understand that there are people out there that try to game the system.
- Be civil: Fighting fire with fire may be precisely what the plaintiffs want, while being civil may be more productive and undoubtedly less stressful.
- Is it worth it: It may be cheaper to settle a baseless case than engage in litigation.
- Motion to dismiss: If the plaintiff’s case has no legal merit, the defense can file for a dismissal.
- Pursue Vexatious Litigants: Businesses hounded by the same party filing multiple lawsuits can file to have the plaintiff listed as a Vexatious Litigant. If this happens, they must get a judge’s approval before filing any additional lawsuits against the business.
- Take them seriously: It may seem like a waste of time to deal with a frivolous lawsuit, but owners are mistaken if they think a baseless lawsuit can be ignored. It is also essential to address them in a timely fashion instead of incurring the wrath of the court or be penalized with fines.
More common than many realize
These lawsuits can happen to the best of companies. They often are a distraction to owners and employees and can incur unnecessary expense if they are improperly handled. A law firm with experience handling business litigation can be a tremendous help in analyzing the case and planning a strategy for proceeding in an effective manner that minimizes the impact on the business involved.