Embroiled in a Business Dispute? These 4 Signs May Indicate You’re Headed for Litigation

Running a business can be as risky as it is rewarding. With so many other parties involved in its daily activities, it’s only a matter of time before you become embroiled in a dispute with a partner, employee, customer, or vendor. While many of these disagreements can be resolved via negotiation or mediation, others end up being litigated. Over 40 million lawsuits are filed in courts across the U.S. every year, from contract disputes to tort cases and more.

While there’s no way to guarantee you will never be sued, you can mitigate the damage when it does occur. Below are four warning signs that the dispute is beyond mediation or negotiation, and the other party intends to take you to court. If you observe any of them, call a business attorney for advice before you do anything else.

1. Refusal to Compromise

When the other party suddenly stops returning your calls, replying to your emails, or showing the slightest interest in discussing the matter further, don’t assume that they’ve given up. This is usually a sign that they don’t intend to resolve the dispute with you directly and plan, as the saying goes, to “tell it to the judge.”

2. A Complaint Is Made Against You

It’s not unusual for a dissatisfied customer or disgruntled former employee to make a complaint against you and / or the business to the appropriate authority. A call to the Better Business Bureau or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be sued, but it does suggest that the other party is not content to let the matter drop. Their next call could be to an attorney.

3. They Directly Threaten to Sue You

When someone says directly, “You’ll be hearing from my attorney,” it could be an empty threat. But then again, it might not be, especially if there’s a lot at stake in the outcome. For example:

  • A customer is angry because you are refusing to replace an expensive product
  • You do not give a terminated employee the bigger severance package they demanded
  • You insist that you do not owe your partner any money, and they claim that you do

Empty threat or not, if they hint that you’re going to hear from their attorney, call yours right away.

4. They Hire an Attorney

If they actually hire an attorney, it’s practically a given that you are going to be served with a summons and complaint sooner or later. At this point, discuss the matter only with your own attorney. Do not give the other party anything further to use against you.


The threat of litigation is an unfortunate reality when you’re running a business. For that reason, it’s important to retain an attorney with the experience and qualifications to help you manage these legal crises effectively. The Florida Small Business Center has a long and successful background in advocating for entrepreneurs in business disputes, and will carefully guide you toward the best possible outcome for your case. For more information or to schedule a consultation with an attorney, call 1-866-842-5202.

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