The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Litigation

by Kaylin Cook

Who's involved in litigation?

Despite litigation’s reputation of always occurring in a courtroom between lawyers arguing before a stone-faced judge, the origins of litigation actually begin with you: a valued client with the need to remedy an injustice. Other individuals involved in litigation will vary based on the size of the dispute, the type of litigation, the determined pathway to resolution, and the representation selected by the parties involved.

What exactly is litigation?

Litigation is "officially" defined as the process of settling a dispute in a court of law. However, the art of litigation encompasses much more than that. Despite the formal definition, most litigation never reaches a courtroom, and the term “litigation” can refer to something as small as sending a demand letter to complex lawsuits between multiple parties, including businesses, and even governments.

When is litigation needed?

Because “litigation” is so broadly defined, many individuals are hesitant to retain a litigation attorney as they don't believe their dispute is “lawsuit” worthy. Further, while it's true that litigation can be all-consuming, both financially and emotionally, the litigation process remains one of the best avenues to resolve civil disputes. Determining if litigation is appropriate requires a professional analysis of your interests and your options.

So, the real question is this: what types of disputes are best suited to litigation? Civil litigation can be divided into six categories (1) commercial disputes; (2) matrimonial and domestic matters; (3) claims against the government; (4) personal injury claims; (5) employment disputes; and (6) real property disputes. With extensive experience in commercial disputes, claims against the government, employment disputes, and real property disputes, our team of litigators have the know-how and perspective to explain when litigation is the right move for you.

Let's take a look at the most common types of disputes we see at Gutwein Law:

Commercial Disputes

Commercial disputes generally include two or more businesses seeking to resolve disagreements regarding contracts and delivery/acceptance of goods and services, as well as competition, price, and any other possible issue that could arise in the commercial context. Many of these can be solved through arbitration, which is the process of bringing the case before an impartial third party for final determination instead of trial. Claims brought in commercial disputes typically include the following:

    • Bad Faith
    • Breach of Contract
    • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
    • Business Torts
    • Employment and Labor
    • Fraud and Misrepresentation
    • Insurance Coverage
    • Intellectual Property and Patent Infringement
    • Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Data Breach
    • Product Liability
    • Shareholder Disputes and Derivative Actions
    • Tax Disputes
    • Trade Secret and Unfair Competition

LLC/Partnership Disputes

These disputes are categorized as disagreements concerning the running of a business established as a limited liability company or partnership. A good business relationship is like a good marriage: communication should be open, and there should be cooperation. However, sometimes arguments can lead to toxic situations, where the parties cannot come to an agreement, and ultimately, do not wish to continue operating in a format that requires the members, managers or partners to work together. When this is the case, heading to arbitration or trial can often provide relief for the LLC/partnership itself, as well as the individual parties.

Corporate Disputes

A dispute is usually deemed corporate if it involves the reorganization or liquidation of a legal entity, arises from a claim that breaches a shareholder’s interests or transaction procedures, involves rights to stock or other securities, or involves the invalidation of state registration. Corporate disputes can get complicated and sensitive, but Gutwein Law's experienced litigators and transactional attorneys enjoy providing prelitigation advice and resolution of issues via formal processes.

Real Estate and Contractor Disputes

These disputes involve anything pertaining to real estate, either commercial or residential, such as zoning issues, environmental remediation, title defects and much more, including contractor disputes that can be resolved through Indiana’s mechanic’s lien statute. A lawyer is especially beneficial in any real estate deal or dispute, as he or she will know all the ins and outs of the transactions.

Small Business Litigation

Small business disputes are different from corporate disputes, and usually involve things like enforcing a contract, collecting a significant debt, or defending against a claim made about a business. A lawyer who is familiar with this type of case can help you both defend against lawsuits brought against you and safeguard the interests of your small business with proactive measures.

At this point, we’ve determined who’s involved in litigation, when it’s needed, and why it often happens. So there’s only one question left to answer: “Where?”

Gutwein Law has a dedicated team of litigation attorneys who communicate with our clients every step of the way, advising on the strengths and weaknesses of their position, and equally important, ensuring clients are aware of the costs of pursuing and/or defending that position.

Want to discuss a potential lawsuit or walk through how to manage your risk of being sued? Please give us a call at 765.423.7900 or shoot us an email at