Civil Litigation

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Civil litigation usually involves a lawsuit filed in the court system, but can also involve administrative procedures or arbitration.  Arbitration can take place through the courts in the context of a lawsuit, or privately, as where provided for by contract.  There is currently some controversy involving how arbitration clauses are handled by California and federal courts, involving the preemption of state law.  Dorfman Law Office can help you with all aspects of civil litigation.


Whether you are a potential claimant or a defendant, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.  All legal actions are subject to a statute of limitations which limits the time in which a lawsuit may be initiated.  Some types of actions require steps be taken before filing a lawsuit.  Some of these prerequisites have very strict time limits which can result in a complete loss if not followed.  If you have been sued, you must respond in a timely manner, or risk losing without a chance to defend.


Arbitration is a process involving a decision by a neutral person or panel.  The parties to a controversy present their evidence, and the arbitrator issues a decision, similar to a verdict in a trial.  If the arbitration is “binding”, that usually ends the matter, as there are very limited grounds to challenge or appeal such a decision.  If the arbitration is not binding, a party may choose to reject the arbitration decision and go forward with a trial.

Mediation is a process which also utilizes a neutral, called a “mediator”.  Unlike arbitration, the result is agreed to by the parties.  Some contracts mandate that mediation take place before a lawsuit can be filed, but usually mediation is completely voluntary.  The object of mediation is settlement.  The mediator may be knowledgeable in the subject of the dispute and very skilled in the mediation process, but ultimately it is up to the parties to agree or not.


Litigation can arise in virtually any area of law.  Over the years Mr. Dorfman has handled litigation involving areas of law as diverse as real estate, personal injury, business disputes, product liability, malpractice, employment, administrative, trade secret, commercial litigation, contracts, bankruptcy, civil rights, mass torts and landlord/tenant.


The best strategy is to avoid the events which trigger litigation.  For example, having a clear contract drawn up to cover a transaction can go a long way toward preventing a lawsuit later.  Of course, there are many situations which are unavoidable.  In any case, it is important to evaluate the facts and law promptly, and prepare to win in court.  Occasionally a letter or claim filing results in the resolution of the issue.  Some cases can be disposed of through pretrial motions.  Many matters settle before trial.  Efficiently and effectively preparing for trial is necessary; the specifics vary and are often adjusted in consultation with the client.  We are very fortunate to have trial courts and juries available for those important matters for which a reasonable settlement can not be found.

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