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Miami, Florida

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Business dispute issues can be avoided with proper planning

At the onset of a new Florida business venture, spirits are usually high. The promise of success, excitement over the future and a cooperative approach often define the relationship between partners. All parties share the hope that the venture will be rewarding and profitable for everyone involved. While no one wants to anticipate a negative end to a business partnership, it is imperative for business partners to take the time to properly define their expectations and the process for handling any future business dispute.

Doing so can help avoid future conflicts and resultant litigation. An example lies in a recent lawsuit filed by a partner in a zip-line park venture. The man claims that his business partner has misappropriated over a half-million dollars from the operation. In a recent move, the man has asked a court for an injunction that would prohibit his partner from removing any further assets from the business.

At issue in the suit are transfers of money that the defendant allegedly made to pay his own debts. The plaintiff asserts that the partner has kept a secret set of books that he has not been able to examine or audit. This case has not yet made its way to court, and the defendant has not had the opportunity to present his own side of the matter. However, the story is illustrative of the issues that can arise when a partnership does not have clearly defined expectations and protections.

In many instances, concerns and conflicts between partners can be minimized by drafting a clear and detailed contract at the onset of the partnerships. For example, it can be stipulated that all partners are to have access to all financial documents and accounts, and that in the event of a dispute an outside company would be hired to audit the books. In cases in which fraud is asserted, having a neutral third party assessment can clear up a Florida business dispute before it turns into lengthy and expensive litigation.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, “Hocking park zip-line owner sues partner,” Jim Phillips, March 14, 2013

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