Houston Breach of Fiduciary Duty Attorney
There are a number of situations in which one individual owes a duty or responsibility to another party. One such duty is called a fiduciary duty, and it is a legal responsibility requiring someone to act in the best financial interest of another party. Failing to fulfill this duty can have serious consequences. Fiduciary duties are generally imposed by public policy when a specialized service, like legal help or money management, is involved.
Fiduciaries are expected to always act in the utmost good faith with perfect candor, openness, and honesty – and, of course, without deception. Any time a fiduciary has obtained profit through self-dealing or by causing a loss to another party, he or she may be held accountable; however, determining whether a breach has occurred is not always cut and dry.
A Houston breach of fiduciary duty lawyer understands the complexities and nuances of how the fiduciary relationship works and can represent clients in pursuing or defending against these claims.
What Is Fiduciary Duty?
Fiduciary duty is the strictest duty of care recognized by the legal system. It is broadly defined as the legal duty of one with superior knowledge and/or power to act in the best interest of another party. Fiduciaries, or the parties owing this duty, have a special relationship with the principals to whom they owe the duties. In essence, fiduciaries must act on the principals’ behalf. However, fiduciaries may not benefit from these relationships unless they have the principal’s express consent. Fiduciaries must also avoid conflicts of interest between themselves and their principals or between the principals and any of the fiduciary’s own clients.
While anyone can be appointed a fiduciary, a fiduciary duty applies to professionals like accountants, real estate brokers, and lawyers. If any of these professionals failed to act in your best interest, they likely breached their fiduciary duty. Fiduciary liability can also apply to members of a limited partnership, corporation, directors, and shareholders.
When Does a Fiduciary Relationship Arise?
A fiduciary relationship can exist in a lot of contexts, including those involving trusts, wills, and contracts. Relationships that commonly give rise to a fiduciary duty include:
- Corporate Officer/Shareholder
Corporations and Fiduciary Duties
Directors of corporations are charged with specific fiduciary duties. Their primary duties include the duty of care and the duty of loyalty.
Duty of Care
The duty of care requires directors educate themselves thoroughly with all material information available prior to making business decisions. A director may not simply accept the information presented at face value. Rather, he or she must assess it critically to protect the interests of the corporation and its shareholders.
Duty of Loyalty
A director’s duty of loyalty means they must act without any personal economic conflict. Corporate officers and directors are not legally allowed to use their fiduciary position of trust and confidence to further their own private interests.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty Damages
Business torts such as breach of fiduciary duty are not criminal offenses themselves, although some can arise from criminal conduct. While in a criminal case penalties are dictated by law, in a civil case the court or a jury will decide whether or not the defendant is legally responsible for the plaintiff’s damages and, if so, award financial compensation. Breach of fiduciary duty damages can include both losses that have already occurred and losses likely to occur in the future.
The way damages are awarded in each breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit is fact-specific, and varies on a case-by-case basis depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the claim and the severity and scope of damages. Generally though, breach of fiduciary duty awards can include:
- Damages – In many cases, plaintiffs are awarded monetary compensation for their damages, including not only compensatory damages for actual damages (i.e. lost profits), but also punitive or exemplary damages to punish and deter the wrongdoer when egregious conduct is found.
- Equitable Remedies – Equitable relief is a court-granted remedy requiring a party to act or refrain from acting when other legal remedies are insufficient. Equitable remedies can vary, but often include injunctions, court-appointed receivership, and more.
Local Counsel for Breach of Fiduciary Litigation
We also act as local counsel for out-of-state plaintiffs and defendants involved in breach of fiduciary duty litigation in Houston, Texas. When foreign businesses are subject to Texas litigation, Feldman & Feldman provides exceptional service as local counsel by advising non-Texas lawyers and businesses on the applicable local rules. We work as a team with our partner law firms.
Why Feldman & Feldman?
Breach of fiduciary duty lawsuits can get quite complicated since they may involve individuals, entities, or both, depending on the situation. Ensure you are fully prepared by working with an experienced Houston civil litigation attorney who will present your case as well as it can be in court. Feldman & Feldman provides thorough, aggressive, and dedicated representation to ensure the best possible outcome for your breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit.
The attorneys at Feldman & Feldman handle allegations of breach of fiduciary duty very carefully. We understand these claims often involve delicate situations. Because of this, we work efficiently to protect your interests while exploring all options for resolution. If you have been accused of breaching your fiduciary duty or if you believe your fiduciary’s actions constitute a breach, contact us today to schedule a consultation.