Contracts can seem like fickle beasts, at best, unless you understand them inside and out. The trouble is that even if you fully comprehend everything about your business contracts, the people on the other end of it might not. Misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the rules and regulations in your shared contract could lead them to believe that you have breached the contract, and they might react by presenting you with a lawsuit.
Things can get even trickier when a competitor outside any of your contracts is the one trying to sue you. They might be claiming that you have delayed one of their shipments, illegitimately persuaded one of their employees to come work for you, or they could even say that you used threats to consumers to not purchase their goods or services.
How To Defend Against a Breach of Contact Lawsuit
Even though you’re certain you haven’t breached any contracts, you can’t expect a good outcome if you just deny the claims. You need to present what is known as an “affirmative defense,” and you need to right away when you answer the Complaint. Otherwise, you lose your right to assert them. If they are not raised, they are waived. If you wait too long to raise your defense, they could be seen as unusable or fraudulent later down the line. A skilled contract litigation lawyer can help you prepare the best defense for your case.
Affirmative Defenses You Can Use in a Breach of Contract Lawsuit
Perhaps the most interesting thing about affirmative defenses is that they do not necessarily try to “prove your innocence” or win you the case. Instead, they can be used to simply prove that the other party should not win the lawsuit. Due to this twist and the general openness of breach of contract claims, the defenses you can use are really only limited by the skill of your business litigation attorney.
Some common examples of reasons why a plaintiff’s claims of breach of contract should be barred include:
- Duress: You may argue that the plaintiff originally used duress or threats to get you to agree to the contract in the first place, allowing you to rescind your agreement.
- Failure to mitigate damages: The plaintiff should have been reasonably able to avoid damages caused by the contract’s possible breach, yet they made no effort to do so.
- Unclean hands: The argument that the plaintiff is not entitled to relief due to their own wrongdoing or breaches in the same contract.
So, You’ve Decided On Your Defense…
Not so fast. When it comes to breach of contract claims, you are permitted to create as many affirmative defenses that the facts will support, even if they directly contradict each other. That is to say you can argue that you never breached the contract and, if that doesn’t seem to be working, argue that you broke it because it was unconscionable, and so on. That is called arguing in the alternative. Once again, it really boils down to the creativity and skill level of the lawyer in your corner.
The most important thing to do right now, however, is collect any pertinent information that you can to go over with your attorney. If you have an original copy of the contract, great. If you don’t because it was never written down, see if you can gather any copies of the conversations that led up to the oral contract, such as e-mails, text messages, and the like. Believe it or not, a contract can be pieced together like a puzzle and consist of many different emails (or other documents) and wind up being an agreement.
You will also want to get information regarding the actual event that supposedly breached the contract and write it all down in a timeline that chronicles all of the events. With so many defense options available to you, you never know what piece of evidence might be perfect for your case. Don't overlook anything. What seems unimportant to you may be exactly what your attorney needs to turn your case in your favor.
Don’t Take the Accusation Sitting Down
When someone is accusing you of breaching a contract, just the allegation can leave a nasty scar on your reputation. You might see your profits go down until it is resolved because customers or other business partners don’t feel like they can trust you. It might just even make you wonder if the person who has accused you of breaching a contract is doing so for their own gain. Unlikely? Maybe. Impossible? No.
Our Minnesota Contact Litigation Attorneys Can Help
Regardless of the details, if you are dealing with a breach of contract claim in Minnesota, you need to know that you have an experienced business litigation attorney by your side. Contact MKT Law, today to start working your way out of this mess. We are backed by strong testimonials and an impressive list of case results, so you know you can trust us with your case. Call 612.260.5109 today.