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Breach of Fiduciary Duty
In basic business torts, the most common cause of action is for breach of fiduciary duty in state court. Generally, the elements of a breach of fiduciary duty claim are: (1) a fiduciary relationship must exist between the plaintiff and defendant; (2) the defendant must have breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiff; and (3) the defendant's breach must result in injury to the plaintiff or benefit to the defendant. The biggest challenge normally is establishing whether or not one is a fiduciary. On this page you will find primary and secondary sources in support of how the fiduciary is defined. From here you can springboard into just about any business tort claim. Find below some of the most referenced case law and secondary sources to help jump start your research. For lawsuit considerations and strategies, visit this subpage.
Fiduciary is not limited to the legal setting
A leading case at common law is where a family placed their deceased father's best friend known as Uncle Key in a position of trust giving him rights to the land for the purpose of defending it from harassment. However, he took advantage of that trust and tricked the family into deeding over the property. The court held Uncle Key was in fact a fiduciary as he was placed in a position of trust.
Curl by Curl v. Key
"Confidential relationships are not limited purely to the legal setting but may be found to exist in situations in which moral,social,domestic or merely personal."
Aiding and Abetting
It is interesting to note that one can also be held liable for aiding an abetting breach of fiduciary duties.
Violation of the Duty
Much of the case law you are going to see will in some way reference or relate to the restatement of torts. Specifically Section 874.
Violation of The Duty
"A fiduciary relationship exists between two persons when one of them is under a duty to act for or give advice for the benefit of another upon matters within the scope of the relation."
Preemption by Statute
These are a few examples of when one may run into trouble when trying to pursue a state claim.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is a federal law that is allowed to preempt any and all state law claims. It imposes federal statutory and common law liability and preempts certain liability under the fiduciary duty. Click here to learn more.
Notre Dame Law Review Article
Aiding and abetting is recently being treated differently under ERISA. The courts point out a distinction that the person aiding and abetting need not or need to be a fiduciary in some instances. Click here to learn more.
-In a recent case Supreme Court Case Nieto v. Ecker, the court recognizes that non fiduciaries can not be held liable under the statute. The court shifts a long held view because ERISA was not intended to be supplemented with state law causes of action.
Airline Deregulation Act
This FIU law article offers insight to how Airline Preemption of state law has opened the gateway to allow airlines to take advantage of consumers.However there are some notable exceptions that can be used at the courts discretion. Click here to learn more.
Harm From Third Party
As you read through the next page, it is also important to understand that many employers are responsible for the acts of their agents. The Restatement (third) of agency will help familiarize you with why sometimes the company rather than the person is being sued. More often than not, it is because the company has more money than the employee.
1.01 Agency Defined
Agency is the fiduciary relationship that arises when one person(principal) manifests assent to another person(agent) that the agent shall act on the principals behalf and subject to the principal's control, and the agent manifests consent or otherwise consents so to act.
2.04 Respondeat Superior
"An employer is subject to liability for torts committed by employees while acting within the scope of their employment."
This section of the restatement provides guidance for when multiple tort feasors act to harm one person.