Commercial Litigation

In order to successfully evaluate and resolve contract disputes, a thorough knowledge of the customs, practices, technology and terminology that are used in business transactions and industry is required. Our Commercial Litigation Team possesses a deep understanding of commercial settings and commercial law, gained from vast experience in cases involving financial transactions, insurance, manufacturing, product distribution, employment relationships and professional services, to name a few.  The Team strives to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently, while being prepared to forcefully litigate, if necessary.

We have worked on everything from payment disputes to bet-the-company litigation in state and federal courts in New York and around the country.

Representative matters:

  • Successfully defended a Buffalo-based manufacturing company in three, simultaneous bet-the-company breach of contract cases with exposure in excess of $24 million, saving more than 100 local jobs.
  • Represented a government contractor in a $70 million contract dispute with the federal government.
  • Obtained a $21 million verdict for a liability insurer’s bad faith failure to pay.
  • Represented a major national park concessioner in a $100 million suit against the National Park Service for failure to compensate for intellectual property and capital improvements.
  • Obtained a no-cause finding after arbitration of a $20 million indemnity claim.
  • Successfully defended a bet-the-company case against a sugar manufacturer.
  • Secured defense judgments in a number of “mass actions” brought on behalf of hundreds of mortgagors against numerous lenders for breach of contract and other alleged violations.
  • Obtained summary judgment on liability, damages and future damages involving a breach of a 10-year term contract breached in year four.
  • Resolved a dispute with a disloyal high-level employee in the early stages of a public offering, enforcing a confidentiality provision and negotiating the surrender of a significant sum of stock options.
  • Successfully enforced non-competition and confidentiality provisions in anticipation of a shareholder dissolution lawsuit arising from a workplace fraud investigation and the termination of the shareholder/employee, and then obtained the dismissal of the dissolution proceeding.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a regulated utility against a public benefit corporation in a favorable decision that turned on whether the contract was subject to New York State competitive bidding requirements.
  • Obtained pre-answer dismissal of breach of contract claim based on plaintiff’s failure to allege the essential elements of a breach of contract cause of action including, but not limited to, damages flowing from the alleged breach.
  • Obtained summary judgment in a contract action on behalf of a municipal client that was overcharged by another municipality for certain services and obligations.  Summary judgment was affirmed on appeal.  Success in the action resulted in payments to our municipal client of approximately $3.2 million dollars.  In addition, the court made certain declaratory findings that resulted in additional annual savings of approximately $450,000 per year.
  • Successfully argued the application of a limited liability clause to limit client’s damages to $1,000 when damages sought were in excess of $500,000.
  • Successfully defended a $20 million arbitration claim seeking indemnity from a national bank for Office of Thrift Supervision penalties.  Phillips Lytle obtained a no cause finding, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees and costs in favor of the client.
  • Obtained a $27 million trial verdict against a client’s business income insurer for wrongfully denying coverage for damages resulting from a product recall.
  • Obtained summary judgment for a lender in a highly publicized special proceeding dismissing the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s multi-million dollar claim alleging the client had repeatedly and illegally violated a court rule and thereby delayed settlement conferences in hundreds of residential foreclosure cases.
  • Successfully argued a landmark case whereby the New York Court of Appeals held that a Florida choice-of-law provision was unenforceable because the “near-exclusive” focus on an employer’s interests of Florida’s restrictive covenant law is offensive to fundamental New York public policy protecting an employee’s right to earn a livelihood.
  • Obtained a settlement of a $188 million claim against former trustees for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary for less than 1 percent of the amount of the claim.
  • Successfully spearheaded a continuing nationwide affirmative recovery effort against commercial guarantors, resulting in verdicts, judgments and settlements totaling over $24 million over a five-year period.
  • Obtained a directed verdict for a tire distributor involving breach of contracts and promissory notes.
Breach of Contract