Broadway Victoria, LLC v. Norminton, Wiita & Fuster

When the basis for a claim of breach of fiduciary duty arises from the same facts and seeks the same relief as a plaintiff’s attorney negligence claim for malpractice, the claim for breach of fiduciary duty is duplicative and should be dismissed.  This decision affirms a judgment for the defendant law firm after a jury returned a verdict in its favor on the plaintiff’s negligence (legal malpractice) claim and the trial court dismissed plaintiff’s claim for breach of fiduciary duty.  Beyond mere allegations of professional negligence, a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty requires some further violation of the obligation of trust, confidence, and/or loyalty to the client. Here, plaintiff’s only evidence in support of its fiduciary duty claim was the same evidence used to support its negligence claim.  A breach of fiduciary duty claim cannot merely duplicate a claim for professional negligence.  When the basis for a claim of breach of fiduciary duty arises from the same facts and seeks the same relief as the attorney negligence claim for malpractice, the claim for breach of fiduciary duty is duplicative and should be dismissed.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5 (Kin, J., sitting by assignment); April 19, 2017 (partial publication); 2017 WL 1398470

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