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Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Fiduciary Litigation

Even though it crosses over many different substantive practice areas, fiduciary litigation has in many way become its own practice area. Broadly speaking, a fiduciary relationship exists between individuals when there is a “special confidence reposed in one who in equity and good conscience is bound to act in good faith, and with due regard to the interests of the one reposing confidence.” McKeehan v. Wittels, 508 S.W.2d 577, 580 (Mo. Ct. App. 1974). A confidential relationship exists when one relies upon and trusts another in regard to handling of property and business affairs, thus creating some fiduciary obligations. Davis v. Pitti, 472 S.W.2d 382 (Mo. 1971). To give examples, fiduciary relationships between attorney-client, co-partners, director-shareholder, accountant-client, real estate agent-client, trustee-beneficiary, etc. The specific contours of the fiduciary duty will depend on the nature of a given relationship.

To prevail on a claim of breach of fiduciary duty, a plaintiff must establish that a (1) fiduciary duty existed between the plaintiff and defendant, (2) that the defendant breached the duty, and (3) that the breached caused damages to the plaintiff. Zakibe v. Ahrens & McCarron, Inc., 28 S.W.3d 373, 381 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000).

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