Civil and Business Litigation

Civil And Business Litigation

At Cowherd Reade Adair & Laney, we empathize with the toll business disputes can take on your resources and focus. We’re here to alleviate that burden by strategically approaching your legal issues and offering efficient and effective solutions that allow you to regain control and concentrate on what you do best in running your business.

At Cowherd Reade Adair & Laney, we recognize business disputes’ complexity and time-consuming nature. We also understand that each case is unique and requires a personalized approach. We value your circumstances and goals and are committed to providing tailored legal solutions reflecting this understanding.

We represent clients from various industries involving various legal issues, including claims involving breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud, shareholder disputes, professional negligence, and more.

Whether your business grapples with a straightforward contract dispute or a high-stakes, multi-million-dollar litigation, you can trust our extensive experience and proven track record. We have the skills and knowledge to guide you towards the best possible outcome.

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Civil and Commercial Litigation

Our Practice Spans a Multitude of Industries

Each industry has its own set of rules and regulations, and our law firm has experience representing clients in a wide range of industries. Some of the industries we serve include:

  • Construction
  • Employment
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Utilities
  • Real Estate
  • Retail
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation

We have represented businesses of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations. We also have experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in litigation matters. No matter your situation, our business and commercial litigation attorneys will work tirelessly to protect your interests and achieve the best possible outcome.

Common Practice Areas

Businesses can encounter a multitude of legal challenges that can be both costly and distracting.  At Cowherd Reade Adair & Laney, we pride ourselves in our ability to skillfully and efficiently manage a wide range of legal issues that our clients routinely face.  While it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all such issues, they can include some of the areas described below.  If you or your business face a similar concern, then we encourage you to call to schedule a consultation with one of our business and commercial litigation attorneys.

  • Breach of contract or warranty
  • Business torts
  • Construction design and defects
  • Corporate and business governance disputes
  • Debt collection
  • Employment disputes
  • Fiduciary duties
  • Insurance coverage and disputes
  • Mechanics’ liens
  • Non-competes and non-solicitation agreements
  • Partnership and shareholder disputes and separations
  • Professional negligence
  • Real estate litigation
  • Theft and fraud
Finacial Disputes Civil and Commercial Litigation

Fee Arrangements

At Cowherd Reade Adair & Laney, we handle many of our cases on an hourly fee basis, reflecting the time and expertise invested by our attorneys. However, we understand that each client’s circumstances and needs are unique, and circumstances can arise where it is difficult to pay hourly attorney’s fees on top of other obligations for your business. As such, for certain cases we are open to considering contingent fee arrangements, where we get paid only upon obtaining a recovery for your business. Our primary aim is to provide exceptional legal representation in a manner that is financially feasible for our clients. Please consult with our team to discuss the most suitable fee structure for your case.

Contract Disputes

Upholding contracts is more than just a legal necessity—it’s an economic imperative. When contracts are consistently honored, they foster an environment where businesses can strategize for the long term, investors can allocate resources with assurance, and consumers can buy goods and services with confidence. In contrast, an environment where contracts are easily breached without consequence sends waves of uncertainty, deterring investment and stifling growth.  In essence, contracts are the glue that bind the business world together.  They represent a commitment to fairness, transparency, and the rule of law among freely transacting parties.

Upholding the terms of a contract is essential to protecting your rights as a business owner. Unfortunately, contract disputes are all too common. Whether you’re facing a breach of contract claim, a dispute over the interpretation or performance of a contract, or another type of contract-related issue, our experienced contract attorneys can help.  At Cowherd Reade Adair & Laney, we believe that success in litigating a contract dispute doesn’t just hinge on enforcement of our client’s rights (although clearly of paramount importance), but on doing so efficiently and expeditiously.

It’s easy for disputes to become mired in unnecessary and irrelevant details, which can prolong resolutions and increase the costs.  By cutting through the extraneous details and homing in on the heart of an issue, we provide our clients with a clearer path forward that is both efficient and as cost-effective as possible.  This approach not only speeds up the resolution process but also ensures our clients’ true interests remain at the forefront.  With decades of experience in navigating Missouri’s business and legal landscape, we’re proud to serve our clients in an efficient, but highly effective manner.

Construction Design and Defects

Constructing a new building or renovating an existing one is a significant investment. When defects arise due to faulty design or construction, the financial (and emotional) toll can be overwhelming. Most businesses or homeowners do not carry insurance applicable to these types of issues, meaning that the only remedy is a lawsuit against the at-fault architect, designer, or contractor. We understand the importance of being detail-oriented when it comes to design and construction defect lawsuits and are committed to ensuring our clients get the justice they deserve.

Construction defects can be costly and time-consuming to fix. They can also cause significant delays in the construction process. If you’re facing a construction defect issue, it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Our Business and Commercial Litigation attorneys have experience handling all types of construction defect cases. We will work with you to identify the cause of the defect and determine who is responsible for fixing it. We will also help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.

Corporate and Business Governance/Partnership and Shareholder Disputes

In the dynamic realm of business and corporate governance, disputes can emerge at any point, often jeopardizing the very foundation of an organization. These disputes can be extremely taxing on owners and shareholders, particularly in closely held organizations where the opposing parties have been friends, family members, or close associates. Our experienced attorneys can help guide you through these difficult times.
Businesses, regardless of size, are prone to a variety of disputes including, but not limited to the following:
– Shareholder disagreements
-Partnership separations
– Leadership and management conflicts
– Decision-making disputes

Employment Disputes

– Financial mismanagement claims
– Conflicts concerning fiduciary duties
– Succession disputes
– Mergers and acquisitions disagreements

While disputes can emerge from various sources, the solution often lies in the details of the partnership agreement, operating agreement, corporate bylaws, or other governing document for your organization. These documents, typically formulated at the inception of a business, cover governance matters that include issues such as
– Roles and responsibilities of members
– Profit and loss distribution;
-Ownership percentages;
– Decision-making protocols
– Procedures for dispute resolution
-Procedures for withdrawal or other separation from the company
Before escalating matters to litigation, our first course of action is always to thoroughly examine the partnership agreement, operating agreement bylaws, or other pertinent documents. Often the blueprint for resolution is embedded within its clauses.

In instances where the owners or partners have neglected to set forth their agreements in writing, the Missouri legislature has created comprehensive statutory schemes relevant to the various types of business entity.  These statutory schemes can serve as a default in the absence of other agreed upon rules for the governance of your business.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a business or corporate governance dispute, it is essential that you engage competent and aggressive counsel to guide you through the process.

Employment Disputes

Dealing with an employment dispute can be challenging, both financially and sometimes even emotionally. Whether you’re facing a wrongful termination claim, a discrimination claim, dealing with a non-competition agreement, or another type of employment-related issue, our experienced attorneys can help.

We will review your case and advise you of your legal options. We will also work with you to develop a strategic plan for resolving the dispute. If you are a business owner, we can help you create or update your employment policies to avoid future disputes and help walk you through the process if the suit has already been filed.

Real Estate Disputes Litigation

Fiduciary Duty Claims

Missouri law has long recognized that business managers have fiduciary obligations to their company’s stakeholders and that co-owners of businesses can also have fiduciary obligations to one another.  The jurisprudence and statutory frameworks underline the commitment to maintaining a business environment that thrives on trust, fairness, and integrity.

Central to these fiduciary obligations are the duties of loyalty and care.

Duty of Loyalty: This duty underscores the fundamental principle that managers and co-owners must act in the best interests of the business and its stakeholders, prioritizing the business’s welfare over personal interests. This means avoiding conflicts of interest, refraining from self-dealing, and ensuring that all actions and decisions are taken with the intention of benefiting the business and its stakeholders.

Duty of Care: This duty requires that managers and co-owners act with prudence and diligence in their roles. This encompasses the need to make informed decisions, undertake necessary research, and exercise reasonable judgment. Simply put, it necessitates that those in charge perform their responsibilities to the best of their abilities, ensuring that they don’t act negligently or recklessly.

In Missouri, these fiduciary obligations are not mere suggestions or ethical guidelines but are rooted in legal principles.  Failure to adhere to them can be actionable in the form of a lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty, potentially subjecting the at-fault individual to liability for damages arising from his or her failure to perform fiduciary obligations.

Insurance Disputes

The relationship between businesses and their insurance companies is fundamental to the stability and protection of commercial enterprises. In the State of Missouri, this relationship is governed by both statutory provisions and common law principles. Disputes between businesses and their insurers can manifest in various forms and, in understanding these disputes, it’s crucial to delineate between first-party and third-party claims.

Bad Faith Insurance Claims

1. First-Party Claims:

First-party claims involve disputes between the insured business and its insurance company for contractual coverages under a policy.  Such disputes can arise due to property damage claims, business interruption losses, contractual “Extra Expenses,” and other similar coverages.  Disputes commonly arise from:

Claim Denials: An insurer might deny a business’s claim on grounds such as a lack of coverage under the policy, misrepresentations, or failure of the insured to comply with policy conditions.

Valuation Disputes: Disagreements concerning the amount owed for a covered loss may arise. The insurance company might assess the damage differently than the business, leading to discrepancies in the claim amount.

Delay in Payment: Missouri law requires insurers to settle claims within a reasonable timeframe. Delays can lead to disputes, especially if the business perceives the delay as an attempt to evade payment.

Policy Interpretation: Ambiguities in policy language can lead to varying interpretations, potentially causing disputes over the scope of coverage.

Vexatious Refusal to Pay

In the state of Missouri, an insurance company may be held liable under the vexatious refusal statutes if it is determined that the insurance company has refused to pay a loss without reasonable cause or excuse. The standard for determining a vexatious refusal is set by state law and requires the insured party to demonstrate that the insurer’s refusal to pay was without just cause or excuse.

Consequences of Vexatious Refusal to Pay:

If an insurance company is found liable for vexatiously refusing to pay a valid claim, Missouri law provides for certain penalties:

  1. Interest on the Amount Due: The court may award interest on the amount due under the insurance policy, from the date the loss was payable, at a rate specified by Missouri statutes or as determined by the court.
  2. Attorney’s Fees: The court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the insured. The amount awarded is at the discretion of the court and is based on various factors including the amount of work the attorney performed and the outcome of the case.
  3. Additional Damages: In addition to the actual damages (i.e., the amount the insurer should have paid under the policy), the court may award an additional amount as a penalty.

The vexatious refusal statutes in Missouri are designed to deter insurance companies from arbitrarily denying claims and to compensate insured parties who have been wrongfully denied their claims. Insured parties considering pursuing a claim under these statutes should consult with legal counsel experienced in insurance litigation in Missouri.

2. Third-Party Claims:

Third-party claims occur when a third party makes a claim against a business, and the business then turns to its insurer for defense or indemnification. Issues here often involve:

Defense Obligations: Insurers have a duty to defend their insureds against third-party claims that are potentially covered by the policy, including retaining and paying for an attorney on behalf of the insured. Disputes can arise regarding the extent and nature of this defense.

Indemnification: If a business is deemed liable to a third party, it might seek indemnification from its insurer. Disagreements can emerge about the amount to be indemnified or whether the claim falls within the policy’s coverage.

Reservation of Rights: An insurer might agree to defend a business under a “reservation of rights,” meaning they reserve the right to later deny coverage for the claim. This can complicate the relationship between the insurer and the insured.

Settlement Issues: Disputes may arise over whether to settle a third-party claim and for what amount. The insurer’s decision to settle, or not, can lead to disagreements, especially if the business believes the settlement is either too high or too low.

In Missouri, principles of good faith and fair dealing underpin the insurer-insured relationship. Insurers are expected to refrain from acting in bad faith when assessing, processing, and paying claims. When disputes arise, businesses have the right to pursue litigation, and if insurers are found to have acted in bad faith, they could be liable for damages beyond the policy limits, including punitive damages.

While insurance is designed to mitigate risks for businesses, the complexity of insurance contracts and the nuances of Missouri law can lead to disputes. It’s essential for businesses to understand their rights and obligations under their insurance policies and to be aware of the remedies available to them in the event of disputes.

Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements

In Missouri, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are integral tools for business owners seeking to protect their legitimate business interests, including safeguarding confidential information, maintaining customer relationships, and preserving their trained workforce. Such agreements can prevent unfair competition and the misappropriation of valuable company assets. However, under Missouri law, these agreements are subject to certain restrictions to ensure they are reasonable and not unduly restrictive. Specifically, they must be narrowly tailored in terms of duration, geographic scope, and the types of prohibited activities. Given the delicate balance required and the potential legal pitfalls, it’s imperative for business owners to consult with an experienced attorney to craft and enforce non-compete and non-solicitation agreements that both safeguard their interests and comply with Missouri legal standards.

Our have extensive experience litigating all aspects of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. If you have an issue with one of these types of agreements it is important to seek out an experienced attorney that understands the applicable limitations and restrictions under Missouri law.

Professional Negligence

Professionals have a duty to perform their services with a standard of care consistent with their training, experience, and the expectations of their industry. In Missouri, various professionals, including lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers, and financial advisors, can impact your business, and are held to such standards of care. Their duties encompass rendering competent advice, exhibiting skills consistent with their profession, and acting in the best interests of their clients.

However, there are unfortunate instances when these professionals might deviate from these standards, leading to potential damage to your business. If you believe that you or your business has been adversely affected due to a professional’s negligence, our team is here to help you navigate these circumstances and seek the justice you deserve.

Real Estate Litigation

We understand that real estate is a cornerstone for many businesses in Missouri, and with it often come complex disputes that can threaten your commercial interests. Various aspects of real estate transactions and ownership can give rise to disagreements. Here’s an overview of common real estate disputes businesses may encounter:

  1. Breach of Purchase and Sale Agreements: Disagreements may arise when one party doesn’t uphold their end of a real estate transaction, be it related to payment, disclosures, or timely transfer of property.
  1. Commercial Lease Disputes: These can occur over lease terms, maintenance responsibilities, lease renewals, or termination rights.
  1. Boundary and Easement Issues: Disputes often arise when businesses encounter disagreements over property lines, rights of way, and access rights.
  1. Land Use and Zoning: Businesses may face disputes with local governmental entities or neighbors over how a property can be used, or when seeking permits and approvals for construction and development.
  1. Title Disputes: These relate to challenges over property ownership, liens, or other issues that might cloud a property’s title.
  1. Construction Disputes: Disagreements over the quality of construction work, delays, or payment disputes with contractors and subcontractors are common in the real estate sector.
  1. Eminent Domain and Condemnation: Government entities might seek to take private property for public use, leading to disputes over property value and just compensation.
  1. Environmental Compliance:Disputes can arise from the discovery of environmental contaminants or the need for property remediation, potentially involving regulatory agencies.
  1. Landlord-Tenant Disputes: These can involve disagreements over rent, property maintenance, lease terms, or eviction proceedings.
  1. Partnership and Joint Venture Disagreements: Real estate ventures often involve multiple parties, and disagreements over management, profit distribution, and other aspects can arise.

Our dedicated team is well-versed in Missouri’s real estate laws and is prepared to advocate for businesses facing any of the above disputes. We’re committed to providing strategic guidance and aggressive representation to protect your business interests in all real estate matters. If your business is facing a real estate dispute or if you have questions about real estate law in Missouri, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Product Liabity - Civil and Commercial Litigation

Theft and Fraud

In the fast-paced world of business, theft and fraud can present in multifaceted ways, posing both tangible and intangible threats to a company’s integrity, reputation, and bottom line. Common areas of corporate and business malfeasance in Missouri include but are not limited to:

  1. Embezzlement: The misappropriation or mismanagement of funds entrusted to an individual’s care but belonging to the business.
  2. Trade Secret Theft: Unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of confidential information integral to a company’s competitive advantage.
  3. Fraudulent Misrepresentation: Providing false information or withholding critical details with the intent to deceive business stakeholders or clients.
  4. Interference with contracts or business expectancies: Tortious interference with a contract or business expectancy arises when a third party intentionally and without justification interferes with a business’s contractual relations or legitimate business expectancies, leading to damages.

To navigate these intricate challenges, businesses necessitate legal representation that is not just knowledgeable but aggressively pursues your rights. We understand the nuances of business theft and fraud in Missouri and stand ready to relentlessly pursue those who threaten your enterprise. With a proven track record, our attorneys go above and beyond to safeguard your rights, assets, and reputation, ensuring that perpetrators face the full brunt of the law. In a world where businesses can be undermined by theft and fraud, we’re here to fortify your defenses and strike back with unwavering commitment.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation

Whether you run a business or need help with a personal legal matter, our civil and commercial litigation attorneys can help. Call us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you get your desired outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions about Civil and Business Litigation

When you work with a civil litigation attorney, you can expect them to handle all aspects of your case from start to finish. This includes investigating your claim, negotiating with the other side, and representing you in court. Your attorney will keep you informed of all developments in your case and will answer any questions you may have along the way.
The cost of hiring a civil litigation attorney will vary depending on your case's specific facts and circumstances. We will work with you to develop a payment structure that works to the benefit of all parties involved, whether this is a set hourly rate, or a contingency fee where a fee is only charged if we recover.  Contact us to get an estimate for your specific case.
There are some general guidelines that can help you decide whether to hire an attorney:
  1. If the amount of money at stake is significant, it is probably worth hiring an attorney to protect your interests.
  2. If the dispute is complex or involves difficult legal issues, it is also a good idea to seek professional help.
  3. If you do not feel confident about representing yourself in court, an attorney can give you peace of mind knowing that someone is on your side and fighting for you.  In most cases, a business owner who is not an attorney is not permitted to represent a corporation or other legal entity in court, so an experienced civil litigation attorney will be essential to protect the rights of your business or organization.
Ultimately, whether to hire an attorney should be based on your specific situation and needs. If you have any doubts, it is always best to consult with a qualified legal professional.
Commercial litigation is the process of resolving legal disputes between businesses. This can involve anything from a contract dispute to a breach of warranty claim.
Civil litigation is the process of resolving legal disputes between two or more parties. This can involve anything from a contract dispute to a personal injury claim. Our attorneys have experience handling all types of civil litigation matters, and we can help you resolve your dispute efficiently and effectively.