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Ending a business dispute doesn’t always mean a resolution

Florida residents may agree that a disagreement or dispute can only go on so long without an end, even if that end does not lead to an agreement. Express Scripts, a pharmacy benefits manager, and drugstore operator Walgreen have put an end to their business dispute. However, the mutual decision was apparently reached without a resolution to the companies’ underlying disagreements on business terms that spawned the litigation.

The dispute began over contract issues between the two companies. Walgreen said it would stop filling prescriptions from Express Scripts once the companies’ existing contract ended on Jan. 1, 2012, because the company was not paying enough money to Walgreen. In response, Express Scripts filed a lawsuit against Walgreen, accusing the company of attempting to lure customers away from Express Scripts — which was allegedly a violation of the contract between the companies.

When the contract expired in January, Walgreen apparently lost approximately $5.3 billion in prospective revenue. Despite Express Scripts’ becoming the largest pharmacy benefits manager in the United States after buying competitor Medco Health Solutions, Walgreen indicated that the loss in revenue was preferable to having to agree to unsatisfactory business terms. It is not clear what sort of loss, if any, Express Scripts may have seen from its end of litigation.

While it may have been more beneficial financially for these two companies to come to an agreement on their business dispute, this is not always a possibility. As with Walgreen and Express Scripts, there may be terms that a company is simply not willing to bend on if it runs counter to its overall business plan. For Florida business owners in similar situations, this may be the case as well. However, any business dispute likely will benefit from fully exploring all legal options to assist in an agreement before letting a dispute go unresolved.

Source: BusinessWeek, “Express Scripts and Walgreen end lawsuits,” June 1, 2012

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