Breach of Trust: Causation and Damages

To succeed on a breach of trust claim, a plaintiff must prove (1) the existence of a fiduciary duty, (2) breach of the duty, (3) causation and (4) harm. Brown v. Brown 530 S.W.3d 35, 41 (Mo. Ct. App. 2017).

Causation and damages cannot rest upon “guesswork, conjecture or speculation beyond inferences that can reasonably decide the case.” Matter of Wilma G. James Trust, 487 S.W.3d 37, 48 (Mo. Ct. App. 2016). When there is a finding that a trustee has breached his or her fiduciary duty, the trustee is liable to the beneficiaries affected for the greater of (1) the amount required to restore the value of the trust property and trust distributions had the breach not occurred or (2) the profit the trustee made by reason of the breach. Section 456.10-1002, RSMo.

Damages can even include lost income, capital gain or appreciation that would have resulted from proper administration.

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