The "fiduciary" is held to a higher legal standard. Fiduciaries owe numerous duties to the beneficiary: loyalty, utmost good faith, candor, to refrain from self-dealing, to act with integrity of the highest standards, and full disclosure.
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, we represent clients with breach of fiduciary duty claims, which is what happens when a fiduciary abuses or falls below the standard imposed on them when they are acting from a position of trust. We represent both those who claim a breach and those who must defend themselves against such accusations.
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Managing shareholder Simon W. "Trey" Hendershot, III is one of "Houston's Top Lawyers" (H-Texas Magazine). Since 1987, Mr. Hendershot has successfully resolved a wide variety of fiduciary duty cases for his clients.
In general, there are two types of fiduciary relationships: (1) statutory, in which the law explicitly describes the relationship; and (2) common law, in which courts decided that certain relationships are fiduciary in nature. Fiduciary relationships are also formal or informal, yet the same duties-loyalty, utmost good faith, candor, etc.-are imposed upon the fiduciary. The specific list of duties will vary (and may increase) based on the type of relationship at hand, but every fiduciary owes these general duties to the beneficiary.
Examples of formal relationships include business partnerships, the attorney-client relationship, the relationship between an agent to his or her principal, the duty corporate officers and directors owe to the corporation, those acting together within the scope of a joint venture, executors and trustees as administrators of an estate or trust, and the typical employer/employee relationship.
Informal relationships, on the other hand, arise from the facts and circumstances of the situation. In a business transaction, one could be held liable for breach of fiduciary duty if the aggrieved party can establish that a relationship of trust and confidence existed before the transaction occurred, and that many such deals had been done in the past. In such a case, the aggrieved party could base a claim of breach upon an accusation that the fiduciary took advantage of the other party's trust.
The prevailing party in a case involving breach of fiduciary duty may obtain a number of types of damages and/or one or more equitable remedies.
Possible equitable remedies:
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, we represent business partners in a wide array of industries, from software to medical, who were harmed because of a partner's breach of fiduciary duty, or who themselves were accused of breach.
Some cases involve what we characterize as "business through litigation," in which breach of fiduciary duty claims arise out of heavy-handed competition. As mentioned in the section above about damages and equitable remedies, intentional breach can result in exemplary or punitive damages.
Certain types of agents owe a fiduciary duty to those who employ them. In any type of principal/agent relationship, the agent is to act in the principal's best interest at all times.
Insurance agents, for example, owe a fiduciary duty to the insurers (to the company they are selling the contract on behalf of). Escrow agents owe a fiduciary duty to both parties under contract. If an escrow agent releases funds before the time for doing so has come, the escrow agent has committed breach.
Employees owe a common law fiduciary duty to their employers. By law, employees are obligated to act in their employer's interest. At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C., we have represented business clients against former employees who breached their fiduciary duty to their employers, as well as defended former employees accused of breach.
We have represented business clients in the employer/employee context in a variety of industries, including medical billing, manufacturing, software, and chemicals.
In the employer-employee context, a breach of fiduciary duty may involve:
Many of our cases over the years have involved salespeople, as one example. Former sales employees may leave the company, take client lists and trade secrets with them, and go to a competitor with the information. A case such as this could involve the breach of a number of fiduciary duties, including breach for taking proprietary information and breach for tortious interference.
A significant focus of our practice at Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C., is representing shareholders of closely held corporations. Shareholders generally do not owe a fiduciary obligation to the corporation or to the other shareholders-absent other facts, such as a shareholder who acts to purchase a controlling interest. (Corporate officers and directors, however, do owe a fiduciary duty to the corporation.)
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, we analyze the particular type of action in the context of the person's role in the corporation. A shareholder who wears "multiple hats," or who takes certain actions, may be in essence both a corporate officer and a shareholder, and may owe a fiduciary duty.
At Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, our goal is to provide the utmost in value to every individual and business who becomes our client. For years, we have litigated breach of fiduciary duty claims of all types, in nearly every major industry in Texas, involving a variety of scenarios, from business partnerships to employers/employees. Let us prove our value to you. Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.