Unclean hands, also referred to as the dirty hands doctrine, functions as a defense to a complaint. It can highlight that the plaintiff failed to perform under the contract terms or they committed a crime of some sort which would nullify their complaint or lawsuit.

Unclean hands, an affirmative defense, allows the defendant to present a reason as to why the plaintiff should not win the lawsuit. Using this defense, the defendant is required to prove that the plaintiff has unclean hands, or acted unethically pertaining to the current case. The same parameters and burden of proof exist should a plaintiff claim unclean hands against the defendant.

This defense is intended to keep a person from abusing the justice system to benefit from a situation they created by acting in bad faith.

Examples of unethical behavior cited in this type of defense are:
• Breach of contract
• Engaging in fraud or lying in regard to the contract
• Committing a tort or crime with regard to the contract
• Coercing or forcing someone to enter into the agreement
• Getting an offer or accepting a contract that involved violence
• Trademark or trade secret infringement

The requirements for proving unclean hands vary depending on the state in which the contractual dispute is being heard. It’s important that you have an experienced employment attorney on your side. Contact Derek Usman at 813-377-1197 for consultation and legal assistance.

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