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Courthouse Research

BRB Publications has a website which, if you click on any state listed with your cursor, a list of all the counties in the state appears on the screen. If you click on the individual county name where your targeted company is located, you will either see the address and phone number (and sometimes website) of the county courthouse or the address or phone number of the county executive's office. If you call the phone numbers provided and ask for the civil court case filing room, you will either be patched through directly or be given the proper number to call.

Once you have called the civil court, they will respond to your questions about whether there have been any lawsuits filed against a particular company in two ways. The more modern courthouse systems will punch your company name into a central computer and in a matter of seconds be able to tell you how many lawsuits have been filed against your company, greatly helping your research efforts. Other courthouses will explain they don't provide that service over the phone and you will have to come down to the courthouse and either enter the company name into a computer yourself or search through paper records of legal cases.

Helpful Research Hint

The courthouses most likely to have information on companies you are targeting will be in the counties where your business is active. For example, a janitorial services company had its headquarters in Washington, DC and a contract at an institution located in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland. All of the nine lawsuits filed against the company were located in either the Washington DC civil court or in the Montgomery County Courthouse in Maryland. The courthouses in the Virginia suburbs, where the company was not active, had no lawsuits on file against this particular firm.

Document Retrieval Companies

Often organizers do not have the time to go down to their local courthouses and sift through civil cases. Or the lawsuit may be in a courthouse far away from them. In either case, your local union can hire a document retrieval company to do the legwork for you. For a fee, these firms will search by a specific lawsuit case number or by your targeted company's name down at county courthouses. Go to the website, you will see two blank boxes. One says "County" above it on the left while the box on the right says "State". If you click on the arrow on the right hand side of the state box, a drop-down list of states will appear. With your cursor, choose the state you want. Then click on the "Go" button, just to the right of the box under "State". The user will see a list of document retrieval companies for that state.