Lew Migliore, the Industry's Troubleshooter and President of LGM & Associates Technical Flooring Services. LGM specializes in the practice of consulting on and trouble shooting all flooring related complaints, problems, and performance issues having experts in every category as well as related educational services.
Defend Yourself in a Flooring Lawsuit
Everyone is afraid of attorney's it seems and the mere mention of the word attorney elicits reactions that can be compared to having teeth pulled. First, despite what you may think, the law is the same for everyone and it's about being reasonable especially when it comes to disputes over flooring. Nothing is cut and dry. There are portions of a complaint that are impacted by the law governing product performance and those influenced by the normal standards and practices of the industry. You should never respond to a complaint brought against you by a customer, supplier, etc. that is represented by legal counsel without being legally represented yourself.
Flooring lawsuits rarely see the light of a courtroom. The threat of a trial is more intimidating that the actual occurrence. Judges don't want their courtrooms cluttered with disputes over a carpet that faded or flooring material that shrunk, dented, scratched, matted or otherwise didn't deliver the type of performance or appearance retention expected.
Lawyers are not flooring experts either. They know the law but they don't have knowledge of flooring. We work with them all the time on large claims, complaints and actions offering expert advice. But if you don't have legal representation in an action, that is a formal complaint or lawsuit filed against you, or a small claims matter, you're going to get railroaded down the tracks. Just like lawyers don't know floor covering - you don't know the law and you shouldn't ever try to represent yourself in a legal matter. As the saying goes, "The person who represents himself has a fool for a client."
Just because most matters or complaints for flooring issues that are challenged by a legal action don't get to court, doesn't mean you won't have the trip to the steps of the courthouse. Without legal representation you won't get to prepare for the trip. Not represented may mean you relinquish your right to argue your side of the case and a judge in court or in small claims, may very well rule against you no matter how right you may be. You don't know how the legal system works so don't walk into the lion's den unprotected.
When you retain a civil litigation attorney, which is what you would be doing to defend yourself in a flooring lawsuit, he will examine your case and determine whether or not you have a legal claim. The attorney will file the complaint and represent you in court or interact with the opposing attorney to help resolve a matter. Typically, things such as money damages will likely settle before you get close to a trial, as I mentioned earlier.
By retaining a civil litigation attorney, you, or the individual(s) filing the suit against you, will be able to consult and discuss the legal issue with counsel. Hiring an attorney can relieve a lot of stress because the attorney will be managing and litigating your case as the expert you aren't. An attorney will ask you whether you want to settle or go to trial, meaning that ultimately you are still in control of your case's direction. In most cases involving a residential type flooring claim there will likely be some kind of settlement. There may also be cause to involve other parties in the suit such as a distributor, installer or manufacturer, which you'd absolutely need an attorney for.
A civil litigation attorney can be a great asset to someone who is looking to recover money damages or prevent or force a person to act in a certain way, whether the lawsuit is for or against you. Never try or think you can represent yourself in a legal action. With an attorney representing you, you have a fighting chance, without one, you'll be a sitting duck.