Breach of fiduciary duty occurs when someone has a responsibility to act in the interests of another person and fails to do so. To establish that a fiduciary duty existed, you need to show that there was a special relationship of trust between you and the other party and that they violated their duty to you by doing something contrary to your interests. It’s not enough to just prove the other party acted against your best interest; in order for us to take your case to trial recover damages on your behalf, our experienced attorneys must show that you suffered a loss as a result of the other party’s fiduciary duty. Some of the most common cases of breach of fiduciary duty in Houston include:

Agents and Employees

The most common fiduciary relationship is that of agent and principal. An agent can be anyone who takes on a responsibility to act on another’s behalf. They have a fiduciary duty to further the interests of the principal and not act contrary to those interests. Employees are considered agents of their employer, who in that case would be deemed the principal. Non-employees can also be agents if they agreed to act on behalf of a company or individual. For example, if you have independent contractors or you have hired an outside firm to do work for you or negotiate on your behalf, those people could be considered agents.

Common examples of an agent breaching a duty to a principal include:

  • Sharing employer’s trade secrets
  • Failing to follow the employer’s directions
  • Improperly using or failing to account for employer funds
  • Acting on behalf of a competitor
  • Failing to exercise care in carrying out duties
  • Profiting at the employer’s expense

Partners

Partners need to be able to expect that all other partners will do their best to help the company succeed. If you have a partner who is consistently careless or, worse, sees your company as their own personal piggy bank, it’s not something you can ignore. A partnership attorney can help you understand your options and take action to protect your business. Partners have a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of one another and the company. Partners can breach this duty through the following actions:

  • Mismanaging, commingling, or failing to account for company funds or assets
  • Exposing the partnership to liability through negligence or malfeasance
  • Damaging the goodwill of the company through illegal or wrongful behavior
  • Concealing important information from partners
  • Failing to disclose conflicts of interest
  • Self-dealing, such as taking a business opportunity from the partnership for their individual benefit

Board of Directors

Every corporation has a board of directors that is elected by the shareholders and makes decisions on behalf of the company. In closely-held corporations, the board is frequently made up of majority shareholders. However, in larger corporations, board members are more likely to include other professionals who have been brought in to manage the company.

No matter how the board of directors is comprised, its members have a fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the company’s shareholders. A parallel duty applies to managing members of an LLC to act on behalf of all other members. If the board of directors or individual board members have breached a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, the shareholders can bring a lawsuit to protect their interests. Many of the same types of breaches that occur in the partnership context can also occur with members of a board of directors. Additional examples include:

  • Preventing shareholders from exercising their voting rights;
  • Denying shareholders access to records;
  • Refusing to pay dividends;
  • Voting unreasonable compensation for themselves; and
  • Taking wrongful actions to force out minority shareholders.

The high stakes associated with the breach of fiduciary duty suggest you choose the best representation possible. Our breach fiduciary duty attorneys have extensive experience handling these complicated cases and will work with you to find the most advantageous solutions on your behalf. To discuss your breach of fiduciary duty case, contact us today.