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$3.1 billion case dismissed in New Jersey court

Commercial disputes of any kind can be a major distraction for New Jersey business owners. When those disputes develop into full-fledged commercial litigation, they can become time consuming, expensive and stressful. In the end, litigation may not even come to a successful or satisfactory solution.

Last week, a New Jersey court dismissed litigation between broker-dealer Morgan Keegan & Co. and Exis Capital Management and Canadian-based insurer Fairfax Financial Holdings. In this case, Fairfax accused Keegan and Exis of commercial disparagement.

According to Fairfax, the companies had hired analysts to harass Fairfax employees and obtain company information. They then supposedly used this information to spread negative information and rumors about Fairfax. Their goal was supposedly to drive Fairfax’s stock prices down. This way, Fairfax claims, the companies could profit from betting on Fairfax’s stock prices decreasing.

The lawsuit had been for $3.1 billion. Morgan Keegan and Exis denied any wrongdoing. The judge in this case agreed with Fairfax that it looked as if Morgan Keegan and Exis were trying to negatively affect Fairfax’s business. However, the judge also believed that there was no law in New Jersey under which Fairfax could get relief for this behavior. Therefore, the judge dismissed the suit altogether. Fairfax says it will appeal the ruling.

These extra appeals could take months, if not years, to complete. Companies that are having disputes can try to avoid costly litigation by pursing alternative dispute resolutions. These techniques, including arbitration or mediation, can help businesses come to quick and effective solutions that serve the interests of all parties. In many situations, it is possible to settle without years of court battles.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, “Fairfax Case Against Morgan Keegan, Exis Dismissed,” David Voreacos and Anthony Effinger, Sept. 13, 2012

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