Breach of Contract Claims in Florida: How Do You Raise an Affirmative Defense?
Is your company being sued for a breach of contract? You may have a valid affirmative defense against the breach. The Legal Information Institute explains that an affirmative defense involves the raising of evidence that “if found to be credible, will negate criminal liability or civil liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts.”Here, our West Palm Beach commercial litigation attorney explains the most important things you should know about raising an affirmative defense to challenge liability in a breach of contract claim in Florida.
Step #1: Review All Available Defense Options to the Breach of Contract Allegations
If your South Florida business is facing allegations of any type of contract violation, it is imperative that you are prepared to proactively respond. As a starting point, you should take time to understand the claim and evaluate all potential defense strategies—potentially including raising an affirmative defense. Of course, an affirmative defense is not the only option for fighting back against a breach of contract lawsuit. You may argue that you never violated the agreement at all. Still, if you are preparing to raise an affirmative defense, you will need to identify as early as possible. Some examples include:
- Fraudulent inducement;
- Mutual Mistake;
- Commercial impracticability; and
- Statute of limitations.
Step #2: Gather and Organize All Evidence that Can Support Your Defense
After you have identified all of your potential defenses, the next step is to collect evidence that supports your side of the story. Evidence can include emails, documents, contracts, witness statements, or anything else that proves your point. A detail-focused approach is a must. Organizing this evidence is crucial. It is generally a best practice to create a clear and easy-to-understand file with all your evidence. An experienced Florida commercial litigation attorney can help you gather and prepare all of the evidence that you need to raise an affirmative defense.
Step #3: Identify the Affirmative Defense Within Your Answer to the Lawsuit
An affirmative defense is one that must be actively presented by the defendant. You cannot raise it at the last minute. You should formally present your defense in your response to the lawsuit. If a breach of contract case does end up in litigation, the defendant—a company accused of a breach of contract—will have an opportunity to raise a defense in its answer. Be sure to back up and clearly communicate your affirmative defense with valid evidence. Your answer should be drafted by an experienced Florida business law attorney.
Call Our West Palm Beach Breach of Contract Lawyers Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach commercial litigation attorney has extensive experience handling breach of contract cases. Have any specific concerns about preparing an affirmative defense, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us now for your confidential case review. We provide breach of contract defense services to businesses in Palm Beach County and across Florida.