Litigation: Business, Contract, Real Estate, and Probate

Ms. Fine represents clients and appears in court primarily in the City of Winchester, Va., and the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Loudoun, and Fauquier. Civil litigation can involve both a lawsuit filed and/or negotiation to achieve a settlement. Ms. Fine has successfully tried cases and has successfully negotiated settlements.

Legal Counsel

Ms. Fine is experienced in the following areas:

Corporate and limited liability company (LLC) dissolution – A limited liability company is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities. Limited liability companies are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship. While the limited liability feature is similar to that of a corporation, the availability of flow-through taxation to the members of an LLC is a feature of partnerships. If you need to dissolve an LLC, Ms. Fine has a lot of experience in this area.

Corporate and limited liability company (LLC) disputes – The primary reason business owners opt to take the LLC route is to limit the principals’ personal liability. Many view an LLC as a blend of a partnership, which is a simple business formation of two or more owners under an agreement, and a corporation, which has certain liability protections. An LLC is a more formal partnership arrangement requiring articles of organization to be filed with the state. An LLC is much easier to set up than a corporation, and it provides more flexibility along with the protection. However, creditors may still pierce the corporate veil of an LLC in cases of fraud or when a company hasn’t met legal and reporting requirements.

Contract disputes related to business, real estate, and finance – Many Contract disputes start because the parties had a different interpretation of the Contract terms. Once the dispute starts, it often causes emotions between the parties to stand in the way of a resolution. We can analyze the facts, give you our opinion of your options to reach a resolution and help you achieve that resolution. Sometimes the resolution can be achieved by discussions/negotiations with the other party or their attorney.

Construction disputes – Construction disputes arise because of disagreements between the parties on a contract. They are due to a perceived or real violation of a construction contract and the obligations set forth therein. Disputes may also arise due to: lack of understanding of the conditions of the contract; delays on a contract; failure to administer the contract; and unsubstantiated or incomplete claims being made by the parties involved. While disputes in themselves do not constitute a breach of contract, they may become one, and even lead to a termination of the contract or a claim against the contractor’s surety bonds. In order to reduce the possibility of disputes arising, all parties on a contract may take proactive steps before the project itself begins.

Non-competition agreements – If you are an employee being asked to sign a non-competition agreement, or if you are an employer about to hire a new employee, you should have an attorney draft or review the agreement. An agreement drafted by either side will usually favor that side. A review by your attorney will spot potential pitfalls which may be able to be negotiated to a less onerous agreement for the employee and a more legally enforceable agreement for the employer. If you are an employee who has already signed a non-competition agreement and who now wants to leave and work in competition with a previous employer, we can advise you. We have experience drafting, reviewing, and negotiating non-competition agreements.

Landlord and Tenant disputes – As it often happens, there may come a time during a tenancy when a landlord tenant dispute arises. These disputes can pop up over many different issues including lease agreements, tenant rights, responsibility for repairs to the property, rent, eviction and more. However, in most situations, lawyers and court time should be the last choice for resolving these concerns.

Partition suits – If two or more owners of real property, often through an inheritance, disagree as to whether or how to sell the property or whether one person is entitled to live on the property, a remedy is filing a partition suit, which is a civil action brought in the Circuit Court where the real property is located. Code of Virginia §8.01-83 provides the basis for the partition suit, depending on whether the property can be divided or not.

Lost Will – Missing wills raise all sorts of interesting legal issues which often turn on the specific facts and circumstances, and the law of the state in which the deceased resided. If a will is missing or a photocopy, but no original, is produced, the potential heirs/business partners should see an attorney as soon as possible to protect their interests.

Probate Litigation – Disputes between and among siblings following the death of a parent that are not successfully mediated and end with a lawsuit filed in Court are some of the most emotional and divisive cases. These cases can result in family members no longer communicating. Probate litigation including challenges to wills and partition suites for real estate. It involves the filing of a complaint with the court, depositions of parties and experts, interrogatories to answer and request for admissions, among other discovery, all adding up to expense: financial, emotional and time. (see What is Probate Litigation and How Can You Avoid It?)

Recent Work

  • Represented one of two 50/50 heirs in a partition suit to sell inherited real estate when one heir refused to vacate or pay rent. The successful litigation resulted in a court order to sell the property, divide the proceeds, and deduct back rental payments from the share of the heir who refused to vacate or pay rent.
  • Represented the owner of a country estate in obtaining a judgment evicting the tenants and recovering damages to the property due to the tenants’ neglect.
  • Negotiated affordable pay-offs with creditors and dismissal of the creditors’ claims.
  • Negotiated a settlement agreement between adjoining property owners in a lawsuit filed over an access easement.
  • Recovered for a client, under a Contractor Recovery Fund Claim, money paid to a contractor who failed to do the work and who filed for bankruptcy.