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Online lawsuit search may cause issues for Ohio businesses

Owners and operators of small and medium-sized businesses in Ohio have long been concerned about the climate for their commerce. Big-box retailers and online shopping have taken a large share of regional and rural business, in which smaller operations have traditionally been a more important part of markets and job opportunities.

Smaller businesses are also more likely to suffer if they are involved in legal disputes. Operations with only a few employees and those run by sole proprietors may have more issues paying for legal representation as business disputes take shape and drag on. This is one reason that having standing legal representation is often a good idea, as a lawyer can diffuse disputes rapidly -- before they escalate.

A well-intentioned program originating with the government in Columbus may be another impetus for small businesses to make sure they are protected. The attorney general of the Buckeye State is launching an online search tool covering any standing lawsuits regarding consumer protection issues.

Companies and people accused of violating consumer laws will appear on searches of this database. "From there, consumers can learn whether a final judgment was entered in that litigation and link to our existing Online Public Inspection File to obtain a copy of the judgment itself," said the attorney general.

Public records are subject to anti-confidentiality laws, but some businesses may feel their success hangs in the balance of pending legal actions. Business operators concerned about potentially damaging litigation should consider the value of an attorney as they attempt to counter accusations and move past them into commercial success.

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