Legal Memorandum: Cause of Action for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Issue: Under Florida law, what must a complaint allege in order to state a valid cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty?

Area of Law: Estate Planning & Probate, Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Breach of fiduciary duty; Valid cause of action
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 884 So. 2d 512; 636 So. 2d 1364; 908 So. 2d 1178; 74 Cal. Rptr. 2d 550; 837 So. 2d 348
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2008

A breach of fiduciary claim is separate from a wrongful death, negligence, or violation of statutory rights claim.  See, e.g., MN MedInvest Co., L.P. v. Estate of Nichols, 908 So. 2d 1178 (Fla. 2d Dist. Ct. App. 2005) (ordering arbitration of the personal representative’s claims against the nursing home for wrongful death, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty); Germann v. Age Inst. of Fla., Inc., 912 So. 2d 590 (Fla. 2d Dist Ct. App. 2005) (holding that the estate was not bound by an arbitration agreement and that the personal representative could therefore litigate its negligence, wrongful death, breach of fiduciary duty, and deprivations of statutory rights claims); Age Inst. of Fla., Inc. v. McGriff, 884 So. 2d 512 (Fla. 2d Dist. Ct. App. 2004) (also involving negligence, violation of resident’s rights, and breach of fiduciary duty claims brought by the personal representative of a deceased nursing home resident’s estate). 

The elements of a common-law breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim are: (1) the existence of a fiduciary duty, and (2) the breach of that duty, (3) such that it is the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages.  See Gracey v. Eaker, 837 So. 2d 348, 353 & n.4 (Fla. 2002) (citing Stevens v. Cricket Club Condominium, Inc., 784 So. 2d 517 (Fla. 3d Dist. Ct. App. 2001) (examining damages as element in claim); Jacobs v. Vaillancourt, 634 So. 2d 667, 670 (Fla. 2d […]