law breach of fiduciary duty
The elements of a breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim are (1) the existence of a fiduciary relationship between
the plaintiff and defendant; (2) the defendant's breach of the fiduciary duties arising from that relationship;
and (3) injury to the plaintiff, or benefit to the defendant, resulting from that breach. Jones v. Blume, 196 S.
W.3d 440, 447 (Tex.App.-Dallas 2006, pet. denied).
WHEN DOES A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP EXIST?
It is well settled that "not every relationship involving a high degree of trust and confidence rises to the
stature of a fiduciary relationship." Meyer v. Cathey, 167 S.W.3d 327, 330 (Tex. 2005);Schlumberger Tech.
Corp. v. Swanson, 959 S.W.2d 171, 176-77 (Tex. 1997). Where the underlying facts are undisputed,
determination of the existence, and breach, of fiduciary duties are questions of law, exclusively within the
province of the court. Cathey, 167 S.W.3d at 330; Nat'l Med. Enters. v. Godbey, 924 S.W.2d 123, 147 (Tex.
1996). In certain formal relationships, such as an attorney-client or trustee relationship, a fiduciary duty
arises as a matter of law. Johnson v. Brewer & Pritchard, P.C., 73 S.W.3d 193, 199 (Tex. 2002); see also
Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Morris, 981 S.W.2d 667, 674 (Tex. 1998).
We also recognize the existence of an informal fiduciary duty that arises from a moral, social, domestic, or
purely personal relationship of trust and confidence. See Cathey, 167 S.W.3d at 331; Associated Indem.
Corp. v. CAT Contracting, Inc., 964 S.W.2d 276, 287 (Tex. 1998); see also Schlumberger Tech. Corp., 959
S.W.2d at 176. However, in order to give full force to contracts, we do not create such a relationship lightly.
Schlumberger Tech. Corp., 959 S.W.2d at 177. To impose an informal fiduciary duty in a business
transaction, the special relationship of trust and confidence must exist prior to, and apart from, the
agreement made the basis of the suit. Cathey, 167 S.W.3d at 331.
The elements of a breach of fiduciary duty claim are: (1) a fiduciary relationship 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. Jones v. Blume,
196 S.W.3d 440, 447 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2006, pet. denied). The TUCA [Texas Uniform Condominium Act]
provides that “[e]ach officer
or member of the board [of the unit owners' association] is liable as a fiduciary of the unit owners for the
officer's or member's acts or omissions.” Tex. Prop. Code Ann. § 82.103(a) (West 2007).
An officer or director of the unit owners' association is not liable to the association or any unit owner for
monetary damages for an act or omission occurring in the person's capacity as an officer or director
unless the officer or director breached a fiduciary duty to the association or a unit owner. Tex. Prop. Code
Ann. § 82.103(f)(1).
SUPREME COURT: BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY | SOL |
Texas Supreme court distinguishes suit for removal of trustee from tort action for breach of
fiduciary duty; holds that only the latter is subject to four-year statute of limitations.
The court of appeals held that this trustee-removal suit was barred by the four-year statute of limitations
applicable to breach-of-fiduciary-duty suits. We disagree and hold that no statutory limitations period
restricts a court’s discretion to remove a trustee. A limitations period, while applicable to suits seeking
damages for breach of fiduciary duty, has no place in suits that seek removal rather than recovery.
Accordingly, we reverse the court of appeals’ judgment that the case was time-barred and remand to that
court for further proceedings.
Ditta v. Conte, No. 07-1026 (Tex. Jun. 5, 2009) (Willett) (removal of trustee, statute of limitations does not
apply, trustee may be removed at any time, but suit for breach of fiduciary duty subject to four-year SoL)
REVIEW DENIED BY THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT
AON RISK SERVICES OF TEXAS, INC. v. HORIZON OFFSHORE CONTRACTORS, INC. AND HORIZON
VESSELS, INC.; from Harris County; 14th district (14-07-00549-CV, 283 SW3d 53, 03-12-09, pet. denied
Sep. 2009)(breach of fiduciary duty, election of remedies, judicial estoppel)
PETER J. PARENTI v. KINSEY MOBERG; from Bexar County; 4th district
(04-06-00497-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 05-30-07, pet. denied April 2008) as redrafted
(breach of fiduciary duty, res judicata, exemplary damages cap)
AFFIRMED A jury found Peter J. Parenti liable for breaching his fiduciary duty to Kinsey Moberg and for
knowingly aiding and abetting Moberg's mother and stepfather in breaching their fiduciary duty to Moberg.
Parenti raises four issues on appeal, contending that: (1) Parenti had no fiduciary duty to Moberg; (2)
Moberg was not entitled to mental anguish damages; (3) the award of attorney's fees from an underlying
probate action as actual damages was improper; and (4) the exemplary damages award is grossly
excessive. We affirm the trial court's judgment.
Texas Causes of Action and Defenses | 2011 Texas Supreme Court Opinions | 2011 Tex Sup Ct Per Curiams | Texas
Caselaw Topics Pages | Texas Opinions Homepage |