What Is a Complex Business Dispute?
We have a brief chat with John Siracusa this month, where we discuss complex business disputes.
He provides an overview on what a complex dispute entails and the key issues clients may face when they bring a case forward. John also touches on why ADR is not always the best option and how to protect commercially sensitive information during a dispute.
When is business litigation regarded as ‘complex’?
Generally, where damages are in excess of $750,000, there are multiple parties on each side and complex or unique questions of law.
How do you handle litigation involving multiple parties? Any tips?
Generally, I like to file, transfer or remove my complex business cases to federal court or a state court complex business litigation division. I also endeavour to have my cases trial or near trial ready before filing, which makes it easier for me to manage the other side through the case.
What about when litigation is dispersed across multiple jurisdictions? What challenges arise here and how do you get over them?
I am admitted to the Southern District of Texas because of one of my BP Oil spill cases, and my Chinese drywall cases were definitely a challenge. My advice is that if you are drawn into a multi-district litigation, make friends with the lead class attorneys.
What key issues should a party consider before bringing a claim?
I try to counsel my clients on the risks versus rewards factors of litigating their particular case before we move forward. This includes an analysis of the potential adverse financial and other risks.
Currently, how common is commercial litigation as a method of resolving high-value, complex disputes? Do you find more people opting for ADR?
Litigation works well when there are good lawyers on each side, which tends to be the case in high value complex disputes. I am not a fan of ADR and rarely have clients that request it.
Why would you prefer not to opt for ADR in complex disputes?
I generally prefer litigation as my client can then maintain control, at least until the case is turned over to a jury or a judge for adjudication.
If someone is proceeding against your client with a nonsense commercial dispute case, how can you get it thrown out?
Rule 11 or 57.105 sanctions motions are good deterrents for truly frivolous claims.
What will a solicitor such as yourself do that clients can’t do for themselves in a commercial dispute?
Legally posture the case into the best position possible for the client.
The other side’s attorneys are demanding information for a commercial dispute. Does it have to be given?
If you are already in litigation and the requests are relevant and discoverable, then yes, you must provide the information.
What do you do if they are asking for information which is commercially sensitive in a commercial dispute?
Move for a protective order, so you can try to maintain confidentiality.
What happens if the court hearing for a commercial dispute comes at an inconvenient time? Can you get it changed?
It is possible to move the hearing to continue it at a more convenient date and time.
- What motivated you to specialise in law?
Prior to law school, I was a merchant marine and commercial pilot. I went to law school with the intent of gaining the degree, bute never practicing. But when I summer clerked for a Miami admiralty firm, I really enjoyed the litigation and have not looked back.
- How have you seen legal sphere change over your years of practice?
When I passed the bar, we had DOS, mailed letters and hand delivered filings to the courthouse. The modern law practice is electronic and lighting fast. I can now file briefs from the back of a boat in the South Pacific.
- Your favourite aspect of being an attorney?
Righting wrongs. Illegitimi Non Carborundum.
John Marcus Siracusa, Esq., is a named Partner at the South Florida law firm of Janssen & Siracusa, P.A. He received his J.D. from the University of Miami, where he graduated, cum laude, in 1998. Mr. Siracusa has represented clients in numerous admiralty, insurance, business, insurance and land use disputes in state and federal courts since 1998, and has received several multi-million dollar verdicts for his clients.
In 2009, the Daily Business Review recognized and honored him as one of South Florida’s Most Effective Lawyers in the category of Complex Business Litigation. Mr. Siracusa has been a course provider for the Florida Department of Financial Services since 2011. He recently lectured on the subject of forced place insurance at the 2015 Windstorm Conference in New Orleans.
He is a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, BA (Liberal Studies), 1994, and American Flyers College, 1992. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor and retired U.S. Merchant Marine Captain.
Today, Mr. Siracusa focuses his law practice in the areas of admiralty and maritime law, commercial litigation, plaintiff’s personal injury, insurance coverage disputes and bad faith claims for insureds and subrogation for marine insurers.
About Janssen & Siracusa P.A.
The firm’s lawyers are talented, well experienced trial and appellate lawyers and real estate lawyers who are educated to providing the best legal representation to their clients. Their lawyers have diverse business backgrounds in maritime, aviation, real estate transactions and finance. The attorneys were fortunate to have been exposed early in their legal careers to major multi-national corporations, banks, cruise lines, domestic insurers and foreign underwriting syndicates in all types of trial and appellate litigation and real estate and other commercial transactions. This experience has given them an invaluable insight and advantage in representing individuals and business owners against commercial and insurance giants, which has been the primary focus of their practice since 2005.