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- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
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Breach: 11. Breach of Fiduciary Duty

1 Elements and Case Citations

  1. Fiduciary relationship exists;
  2. Defendant’s breach of fiduciary duty, meaning misconduct, including self-dealing or personal interest conflicts;
  3. Defendant’s breach is contrary to interests of Plaintiff; and
  4. Defendant’s misconduct directly causes damages to Plaintiff.

“A fiduciary relationship has been defined as ‘any relation existing between parties to a transaction wherein one of the parties is … duty bound to act with the utmost good faith for the benefit of the other party. Such a relation ordinarily arises where a confidence is reposed by one person in the integrity of another, and in such a relation the party in whom the confidence is reposed, if he voluntarily accepts or assumes to accept the confidence, can take no advantage from his acts relating to the interest of the other party without the latter's knowledge or consent.’ …”

People ex rel. Harris v. Rizzo, 214 Cal. App. 4th 921, 950 (2013).

A fiduciary relationship exists when one of the parties has a duty to act with the utmost good faith for the benefit of the other party. Gilman v. Dalby, 176 Cal. App. 4th 606, 614 (2009)


Supreme Court of California: Oasis West Realty, LLC v. Goldman, 51 Cal. 4th 811, 820 (2011).

California 1st Dist.: Filbin v. Fitzgerald, 211 Cal. App. 4th 154, 174 (2012).

California 2d Dist.: People ex rel. Harris v. Rizzo, 214 Cal. App. 4th 921, 950 (2013).

California 3d Dist.: Roberts v. Lomanto, 112 Cal. App. 4th 1553, 1562 (2003).

California 4thDist.: Jameson v. Desta, 215 Cal. App. 4th 1144, 1164 (2013).

California 5th Dist.: Mendoza v. Continental Sales Co., 140 Cal. App. 4th 1395, 1405 (2006).

California 6th Dist.: Mission West Properties, L.P. v. Republic Properties Corp., 197 Cal. App. 4th 707, 716 (2011); Pellegrini v. Weiss, 165 Cal. App. 4th 515, 524 (2008).


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Goodworth Holdings, Inc. v. Suh, 99 Fed. Appx. 806, 808 (9th Cir. 2004).

Central District: Global Acquisitions Network v. Bank of Am. Corp., No. CV 12-08758 DDP, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22351, at *18 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 19, 2013).

Eastern District: Fitzpatrick v. Fitzpatrick, No. 2:12-cv-2938 GEB AC PS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124781, at *16 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2013).

Northern District: Brown v. Brown, No. CV 13-03318 SI, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159199, at *15-16 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 5, 2013).

Southern District: Luciani v. Luciani, No.: 3:10-CV-2583-JM (WVG),2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149526, at *12-13 n.6 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012).

2 Defenses to Claim for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

(1) Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses. See Chapter __ for all defenses.

(2) Statute of Limitations: The length of the statute of limitations varies with the nature of the claim. “Breach of fiduciary duty not amounting to fraud or constructive fraud is subject to the four-year ‘catch-all statute’ of Code of Civil Procedure section 343. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc., § 343 [“An action for relief not hereinbefore provided for must be commenced within four years after the cause of action shall have accrued.”].) Fraud is subject to the three-year statute of limitations under Code of Civil Procedure section 338.” William L. Lyon & Associates, Inc. v. Superior Court, 204 Cal. App. 4th 1294, 1312 (2012).

(3) Unclean Hands: No recovery where plaintiff “in equity has violated conscience, good faith or other equitable principles in his prior conduct” because “one who violates his contract cannot have recourse to equity to support that violation.” Fiberboard Paper Prods. Corp. v. E. Bay Union of Machinists, 227 Cal. App. 2d 675, 727 (1964) (unclean hands defense applies to cases in equity and at law); see also Cal. Civ. Code § 3517.

(4) Laches: “A defendant must demonstrate three elements to successfully assert a laches defense: (1) delay in asserting a right or a claim; (2) the delay was not reasonable or excusable; and (3) prejudice to the party against whom laches is asserted.” Magic Kitchen LLC v. Good Things Internat., Ltd., 153 Cal. App. 4th 1144, 1157 (2007); see also Cal. Civ. Code § 3527.

(5) Agency: “An agency relationship is a fiduciary one, obliging the agent to act in the interest of the principal.” Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc., 15 Cal.4th 951, 977 (1977). “[I]t follows that the relationship between subagent and principal is a fiduciary one.” Mendoza v. Continental Sales Co., 140 Cal. App. 4th 1395, 1405 (2006).