Litigation in Los Angeles
Stuart Chelin has a unique combination of commercial litigation experience and extensive participation in business in the private sector. This allows Chelin Law Firm to better understand your business and help devise the best approach to disputes, whether that be through negotiated/mediated settlements or through the Courts.
Contracts are a vital part of the business world. The law of contract is extremely complex and has developed over centuries. Dealing with contract disputes can be extremely complicated and the results can have significant and lasting effects on your business. Litigation over agreements is often not confined to the question of whether or not there has been a breach. Disputes concerning contracts can arise in relation to their formation, interpretation, conditions, non-performance, mistakes, rectification, modification, enforcement, available remedies for non-performance and even the circumstances that can lead to their frustration, termination or rescission. Contracts may be formed orally, in writing or even by implication (through the parties’ conduct). Certain contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. The non-performance of a contractual obligation may not be a breach as there are many available and legally recognized excuses for non-performance. Depending on the facts, contracts may be voided or rescinded in such situations as when they were induced by fraud or duress or one or more of the parties were operating under a mistake about a material term. Moreover, depending on the terms or subject matter of the contract, different forms of remedies may be available such as compensatory damages (to compensate for the economic loss caused by the breach) and specific performance (when the Court will enforce the contract to be carried out by the parties in situations where the subject matter of the contract is unique and damages are an inadequate remedy) or liquidated damages (specific pre-set damages inserted in the contract).
Business Torts & Other Wrongs
The world of commerce and business can be perilous as a result of the inadvertence or willful malfeasance of others. A breached duty of care amounting to negligence, in word or action, can have serious effects on business and economic health. False statements made with the intention of inducing mistakes can have devastating results. While a free marketplace necessarily means that businesses must compete, intentional interference with the contractual or economic relations of others can be actionable. There are a substantial number of torts and other wrongs for which resort to the adversarial system may be necessary.
Disputes that arise between shareholders of corporations or partners in a partnership can have a devastating impact on the ongoing operations, and even the viability, of a business. Regardless of the underlying agreements governing the business, disputes among stakeholders can and do flare up. Majority shareholders oppress minority shareholders and partners do not always contribute to the partnership as they are required. Of course, resort to settlement negotiations and mediation as a means of resolution should be used whenever possible. When circumstances dictate that timing is urgent, or when out-of-court settlement is not possible, then shareholder/partner litigation requires strategic thinking considering the degree to which the nature and the objectives of the dispute may or may not be in harmony with the short or long term operation and continuation of the business.
Fiduciary relationships are special relationships recognized by the law. They arise in situations where one person reposes trust and confidence in another and is vulnerable to the other person’s exercise of discretion. A fiduciary owes the highest standard of care. The most common fiduciary duties are (i) the duty of care, (ii) the duty of loyalty, (iii) the duty to account, (iv) the duty of confidentiality, (v) the duty of full disclosure, (vi) the duty to avoid a conflict of interest, and (vii) the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Fiduciary duties arise in a wide variety of business and commercial relationships, for example, trustee-beneficiary, agent-principal, directors/officers of corporations, between partners in partnership, attorney-client and real estate agents/brokers-client. While a wide scope of remedies are available for the breach by a fiduciary, there are some remedies that specifically recognize the uniqueness of fiduciary relationships and their high standard of care, such as the imposition of constructive trusts on illicit profits and the disgorgement of gains obtained in breach of the fiduciary relationship.
Defamation which is actionable at law requires (1) a false statement of fact concerning a person, (2) publication of the statement to someone other than the person defamed, (3) the statement must have a tendency to injure to the reputation of the person claiming defamation, (4) the requisite degree of fault regarding the truth of the statement (negligence or reckless disregard for the truth in the case of private individuals and malice for public individuals or in relation to a matter of public concern), and (5) damages (unless the statement constitutes defamation per se, meaning certain words that on their face inherently injure a person’s reputation without the need to prove that injury has occurred). Libel is defamation through printed word and slander is defamation through oral utterance. In cases involving public figures and matters of public concern, the plaintiff must prove the alleged defamatory statement was false; otherwise, in cases involving private persons or matters, the defendant has the burden of proving the truth of the statement. The statute of limitations for defamation in California is one (1) year. See California Code of Civil Procedure 340(c). Available defenses to defamation include that the statement made was true and a variety of situations where the speaker has an absolute or qualified privilege to have made the statement.
Shareholder Derivative Actions
Corporate Director/Officer Breaches of Fiduciary Duty
Breach of Fiduciary Duties
Commercial Torts (ie Negligence, Intentional interference with contractual or commercial relations)
Fraudulent and Negligent Misrepresentation
Landlord and Tenant