Articles Posted in Business Litigation

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Good Georgia Lawyer received a Court of Appeals decision victoriously affirming the jury trial verdict where Julie Oinonen represented a Northwest Georgia farming family. The Defendant appealed because he said that Plaintiff’s counsel inappropriately showed a picture of a baby in the demonstrative exhibit. The baby was the rightful heir of Jerry Spain, a wonderful farmer who tragically died in a train accident.

To read the Court of Appeals decision which affirms the jury verdict decision you may read here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ga-court-of-appeals/1673727.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FindLawGaCtApp+(FindLaw+Case+Law+Updates+-+GA+Court+of+Appeals)

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military.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer was very gratified to recently resolve a military family’s business breach of contract dispute with a Fortune 500 corporation. Our client sued under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act and breach of contract. After resolving the lawsuit successfully, our client was kind enough to write us the following letter of appreciation:

“In the fast moving pace of today’s events, it is natural that we sometimes fail to give timely recognition to those who contribute so much to our well being. Now that my lawsuit has ended successfully, I do not want to forego the opportunity of expressing to Williams Oinonen LLC my sincere appreciation for the overall success of my case.

Julie’s professional and practical approach to getting my family a fair resolution that was in our best interest was outstanding. As my lawyer, she demonstrated exceptional professional skill, initiative, and sound judgment. Her personality reflects sincerity and cheerfulness which greatly enhanced the overall trust and confidence I have for her.

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“How can I get attorney fees in a lawsuit?” This is a question we often hear from clients. Different Georgia laws govern the recovery of attorney fees in a lawsuit. If the actions of the defendant prior to the litigation were done in bad faith and would be considered “stubbornly litigious,” then fees may be assessed pursuant to OCGA 13-6-11.

If during the course of the litigation, the attorneys expanded the litigation beyond reasonable or pursued claims or defenses that had no justiciable issues of law or fact, then a party may recover fees associated with that conduct under OCGA 9-15-14.
And, if a party incurs damages as a result of a lawsuit that are beyond attorney fees, they may have an entirely different and separate cause of action pursuant to OCGA 51-7-80.

Finally, after the trial, sanctions can be awarded for frivolous appeals. As with any of these statutes, the party must prove the attorney fees that were actually incurred, the actions the opposing party did to incur such fees, and whether the fees were reasonable and necessary.

Merely prevailing at summary judgment does not automatically merit an award of attorney’s fees. Chong v Reebaa Construction, Inc. 284 Ga. App. 830 (2007). Likewise prevailing in an entire case also does not garner an automatic award of attorney fees either. Glynn Brunsick Mem’l Hosp. Autho. V. Gibbons, 243 Ga. App. 341 (2000). If there is at least an arguable support for the position taken, then an award of fees should not be justified. So long as there is some evidence from which a jury could find for the plaintiff a defense verdict does not warrant imposition of fees. Rental Equip Group LLC v. MACI LLC 263 Ga. App. 155 (2003). An award of attorneys fees is not justified where there is arguable legal support for the position taken.

Nevertheless, under OCGA 9-15-14(a), attorney fees are mandatory where a party has asserted a position where there is a complete absence of any justiciable issue of law or fact that it could not have been reasonably believed that a court would have accepted the position. Cavin v. Brown 246 Ga. App. 40 (2000).

Additionally, under 9-15-14(b), a permissive award of attorney fees and litigation expenses is available if: i. the action brought lacked substantial justification (is substantially frivolous, groundless or vexatious), ii. the action was brought for delay or harassment, or iii. the party or attorney unnecessarily expanded the proceedings by discovery abuse or otherwise.

In order to prevent the chilling of actions that prevent stagnation of law, section c provides that no attorney or party shall be assessed attorney fees in a “good faith attempt to establish a new theory of law in Georgia if such new theory of law is based on some recognized precedential or persuasive authority” which might include dissents, federal cases, cases from other states, and positions taken in law reviews or other legal writings.

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consumer.JPGPurpose:

The Georgia Fair Business Practices Act is the primary law that protects consumers in our state from unfair business practices. The actual purpose of the law as cited in O.C.G.A. § 10-1-399(a) is: “to protect consumers and legitimate business enterprises from unfair or deceptive practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce….” This law forbids any “[u]nfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of consumer transactions and consumer acts or practices in trade or commerce….”

Notice Requirement and Statute of Limitations:

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Lady-justice-jury.jpg Williams Oinonen LLC (Good Georgia Lawyer) is a member of AAJ, the American Association for Justice. AAJ shares the same commitment as Williams Oinonen LLC, making certain people have a fair shot at obtaining justice through the legal system when they are injured by the wrongdoing or negligence of others. We believe this even when it means challenging big foreign corporations. The problem is that a recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court this past month makes it even harder to challenge foreign corporations and easier for companies outside the United States to get off the hook when they create a product that injures or kills an American consumer.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro is the case that creates challenges and makes it much more difficult to hold foreign manufacturers accountable in the U.S. court system.

American Association for Justice Gibson Vance commented on this decision stating: “Simply put, foreign companies that market and sell their products in our country should not be able to evade accountability. . . In our global marketplace, this decision will allow foreign manufacturers to sell their products without adhering to our safety standards.”

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contract fists.JPGGood Georgia Lawyer recently just explained when a contract needs to be in writing to be enforceable.

Today’s article discusses when contractual agreements are enforceable without writing, for example, an oral agreement between two parties. When should this matter? Well, for one thing, in the event of a contract dispute, not having a contract in writing would certainly matter. Contractual disputes sometimes hinge on the meaning of a contract. One party says that they were promised by the other party to do something and the other party claims otherwise. This is why, as a general rule, it is always better to make sure you have a contract in writing.

But what if you don’t? One of the defenses to a breach of contract lawsuit lies in the statute of frauds defense as explained in the earlier article, some contracts need to be in writing to be enforceable.

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contract.jpgWe have discussed the definition of what a contract is in the state of Georgia. We’ve also discussed the different types of contracts in Georgia. And we’ve discussed rules for interpreting contracts here in Georgia.

Today we are going to discuss when a contract needs to be in writing. Another name for this is called “statute of frauds” which is a defense someone can use when they are sued for a breach of contract. It is a good defense because it keeps people from making up lies that aren’t true.

For example, even though a contract can at times be in the form of an oral agreement, what keeps my Uncle Bob from fraudulently filing a lawsuit and then telling a judge that I promised to pay him a million dollars in exchange for his rickety old shack that is falling apart? Obviously, I never would promise Uncle Bob, or anyone else that matter, one million dollars to buy their rickety old shack that is falling apart. But what keeps Uncle Bob or someone else from fraudulently claiming such an oral contract exists? Well, the answer lies in something called the statute of frauds: the requirement that certain contracts need to be in writing so you can prove the truthfulness of their existence and show that someone is not committing “fraud” by lying about a contract that does not exist.

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Contract Newer.jpgGood Georgia Lawyer is sometimes asked by our business owners: “Can I sue for both fraud and breach of contract?” The answer is: “Yes you can!”

We have discussed this issue in a previous article, but we’ll offer further reasoning: It has been well established for decades in Georgia law that the Plaintiff can plead alternative theories of both breach of contract and fraud and is entitled to pursue inconsistent remedies until judgment. See Estate of Sam Farkas, Inc. v. Clark, 238 Ga. App. 115, 517 S.E. 2d 826 (1999) (referring to both causes of action); Carpenter v. Curtis, 196 Ga. App. 234, 236, 395 S. E. 2d 653 (1990) physical precedent) (“Affirmance of the contract by the defrauded party does not necessarily deprive him of the right to sue for damages for fraud, as the right to affirm and the right to fraud damages coexist.”)

Under O.C.G.A. § 13-5-5, fraud renders contracts voidable at the election of the injured party. Fraud ordinarily gives injured party option either to rescind contract so induced, or, by affirming contract, to claim damages as compensation. Barfield v. Farkas, 40 Ga. App. 559, 150 S.E. 600 (1929); Nalley & Co. v. Moore, 51 Ga. App. 718, 181 S.E. 429 (1935); Brown v. Ragsdale Motor Co., 65 Ga. App. 727, 16 S.E.2d 176 (1941).

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bizz.JPGQuestion: Dear Good Georgia Lawyer,

Recently my husband purchased a set of used mechanical engines from a dealer who advertised the engines had “never been in previous wrecks.” The dealer also never provided us with any implied “as is” warranty disclaimer until after we bought the engines. Shortly after buying the engines, we learned that they had been salvaged from previous wrecks. What are our legal rights under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act?

Answer: Defendants engaged in unfair and/or deceptive business practices which violated the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act O.C.G.A. §10-1-390 et seq by failing to provide the implied warranty disclaimer prior to this consumer transaction. Defendant further engaged in unfair and/or deceptive business practices by expressly warranting that the engines “had never been in wrecks.”