Litigation is a process whereby parties engage in proceedings, often a lawsuit filed in court, to prosecute and defend themselves to vindicate their respective legal rights. Community associations are often involved in litigated disputes with members; they can also become involved in litigation with third-parties, such as vendors, neighboring property owners, and governmental entities. The attorneys at Kriger Law Firm, APC are experienced in handling all aspects of pre-litigation strategizing and negotiating, and the litigation of disputes through trial and appeal if necessary.
- The Lawsuit. Litigation has as its primary characteristic a lawsuit initiated by the filing of a Complaint in a court of law, where money damages, the issuance of an injunction, or the court's declaration of rights is the remedy sought by the plaintiff. Lawsuits typically take one year – to – eighteen months from filing of the Complaint to resolution by way of a Trial. During that months-long period, the parties engage in formal and informal discovery (i.e., the investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the dispute), depositions, the filing of motions to determine issues of law pertinent to the dispute, and tactics and strategies designed to persuade the parties either to resolve the dispute by way of settlement, or place the evidence before a judge or jury to render a judgment in favor of one side or the other. Clearly, the process is long, aggravating, and time-consuming, with the costs associated with litigation (attorney's fees, filing fees, investigation costs) weighing heavily on the parties to put pressure to bring the litigation to a successful end.
- Pre-Requisites to Filing. Under the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, the plaintiff in a governing documents enforcement lawsuit (involving the association and a member) typically must offer to participate in alternative dispute resolution (typically, mediation) under Civil Code Sections 5900 et seq prior to filing. At Kriger Law Firm, APC the attorneys endeavor to resolve disputes before a lawsuit is filed, if possible, with mediation being a cost-effective means for putting the parties in a satisfactory win-win situation.
- Litigation Experience. The firm's lawyers have represented clients in alternative dispute resolution and litigation proceedings involving diverse and complex topics, including, by way of example, enforcement of the governing documents, contractual disagreements with vendors and other third parties, claims of breach of fiduciary duties against members of the board of directors or professional management, water intrusion and mold damage disputes, easement and quiet title actions, employment disputes, and fair housing and discrimination claims. Small Claims Court appeals are litigated in the Superior Court, where associations as corporate entities are required to have legal representation (as opposed to the Small Claims Court where lawyers are not permitted.) Notably, over ninety percent of litigated matters are resolved prior to trial. However, on occasion cases are typically tried to the court sitting without a jury, and even more rarely appealed to the Court of Appeal or Bankruptcy Appellate Panel.
Though the cost of litigation can seem daunting, sometimes there is no better way to get a defendant's attention than to make him or her answer for their conduct in a court of law. The firm aggressively pursues wrongdoers on behalf of its clients, while always keeping in mind the importance of practical solutions for parties that are often in a valuable, long-term relationship.