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Can you sue for a breach of a business contract?

If you're a Florida construction company owner, you are probably all-too-familiar with the many ways that a contract dispute with another business owner can land you in legal hot water. Perhaps the supplier of the sinks for your apartment complex went belly-up and left you with a bunch of unfinished bathrooms.

Or perhaps the supplier delivered the sinks, but they were two weeks late, which caused logistical nightmares for the rest of the subcontractors on your project.

Either way, they failed to live up to their contractual obligations, and you intend to hold their proverbial feet to the fire. But where do you begin?

When a contract is breached

Unexpected circumstances may prevent or hinder a contract from being fulfilled. A breach of contract can be categorized as either "material" or "immaterial." This becomes important when the courts must determine legal remedies.

For instance, you may legally challenge the other party's failure to meet their obligations as stated in the contract — to get the sinks delivered. You may also sue the defendant in order to pursue financial recovery of your losses because the delivery of the sinks was delayed, e.g., to replace the carpet that was damaged by workers dragging bathroom fixtures in and out of half-completed apartments.

Mediation and arbitration may be attempted

Litigation is often the last line of defense in a breach of contract, as the contract may expressly state that either mediation or arbitration is the first step in the dispute resolution process.

Mediation may precede litigation, but typically if arbitration — which unlike mediation is binding — is mandated, there will be no day in court. Likewise, it's important to fully understand the steps to resolving the dispute.

Even when a dispute winds up being litigated, sometimes the correct venue will be the Fort Lauderdale small claims courts. If the disputed dollar value of the contractual obligation exceeds the limits of a small claims court, the matter will then need to be filed in the civil court system.

What remedies might I seek?

These type of contract disputes are situation-dependent and might include relief such as:

  • Damages
  • Specific performance
  • Cancellation and restitution

If you are unsure how to reach accord in your business dispute, a Fort Lauderdale business attorney can propose the right course of action for swift justice.

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