Declaratory Judgments

We do not always get to choose when to fight. Sometimes, the fight comes to us, whether we are ready or not. In cases where you know or have reason to believe that someone is planning to file suit against you or your business, you may feel as though you have no option but to wait. You typically cannot file suit without a specific complaint against the other party, but a suit for declaratory judgment gives you a means of challenging an impending lawsuit before it is filed. A declaratory judgment is a special type of lawsuit that allows you to seek a court order explaining the legal rights and duties of the parties to the suit. The court's order is as final and enforceable like any other legal judgment. This is useful for businesses that believe they have a strong defense to a potential legal claim and wish to gain the upper hand. A skilled and knowledgeable commercial litigation attorney can analyze your situation. Our Chicago business litigation lawyers can advise you as to whether declaratory judgment might be appropriate, and aggressively assert your rights.

Declaratory Judgment as “Preemptive Strike”

For many businesses, a declaratory judgment is like a preemptive strike against a threatened or imminent lawsuit. In litigation that strikes at the heart of a business, such as a dispute regarding large payments under a contract or intellectual property rights, a declaratory judgment allows a business to petition a court to define the parameters of a fight before the fight begins, and gives it the chance to choose the court for the lawsuit. This could be the nearest court to you, or the court you believe is best suited to hear the matter.

Situations that Might Call for a Declaratory Judgment

If you expect that you or your business may be targeted by a lawsuit, you should consider whether a declaratory judgment action might be to your advantage. While a declaratory judgment is not the best course of action in response to all threats to sue, it is particularly well-suited to certain situations, such as those involving:

  • Claims that you are infringing upon someone's intellectual property;
  • Disputes over insurance coverage;
  • Impending adverse actions by government agencies;
  • Clear evidence that someone intends to break a contract with you; or
  • A cause of action that you believe an opposing party could bring against you in an already-pending lawsuit that you wish to avoid litigating in that suit.
Relationship to Injunctions or Restraining Orders

Suits for declaratory judgment may center around an action you want to prevent from occurring, such as a threatened breach of contract or an upcoming government action that you believe will harm your business. In those situations, our business litigation attorneys can advise Chicago clients on whether it might be prudent to seek a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction along with a declaratory judgment. These are orders from a court that prevent a defendant from taking a certain action or series of actions while a case is pending. This allows you to maintain the status quo while the court considers the declaratory judgment.

DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle's Chicago business litigation attorneys have offices in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. We represent clients throughout Illinois, particularly in the Chicago area and DuPage County. We also handle business legal matters for clients in Indiana and Wisconsin. Contact us via email, at (877) 990-4990, or locally at (630) 333-0000 to schedule a consultation with a business litigation lawyer in Chicago.

Chicago Business Litigation Lawyer Blog - Declaratory Judgments