What is a Fiduciary Relationship and What are the Duties Owed by a Fiduciary?

Under Florida law, the term "fiduciary or confidential relation" is a very broad one.  Quinn v. Phipps, 113 So. 419, 420 (Fla. 1927).  "If a relation of trust and confidence exists between the parties, that is to say, where confidence is reposed by one party and a trust accepted by the other, or where confidence has been acquired and abused, that is sufficient as a predicate for relief.  The origin of the confidence is immaterial."  Id. at 421.

"Unless the relationship is formed through the terms of an express agreement, the issue whether a fiduciary relationship exists will generally depend upon the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the relationship of the parties and the transaction in which they are involved.  To establish a fiduciary relationship, a party must allege some degree of dependency on one side and some degree of undertaking on the other side to advise, counsel, and protect the weaker party. When the parties are dealing at arm's length, a fiduciary relationship does not exist because there is no duty imposed on either party to protect or benefit the other."  Taylor Woodrow Homes Fla., Inc. v. 4/46-A Corp., 850 So. 2d 536, 540-41 (Fla. 5th DCA 2003)(citations ommitted). 

"A fiduciary owes to its beneficiary the duty to refrain from self-dealing, the duty of loyalty, the overall duty to not take unfair advantage and to act in the best interest of the other party, and the duty to disclose material facts."  Capital Bank v. Mvb, 644 So. 2d 515, 520 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994); See also Sallah v. BGT Consulting, LLC, No. 16-81483-CIV, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101639, at *13 n.5 (S.D. Fla. June 29, 2017)("The fiduciary must act as a prudent person with reasonable care, skill, and caution. Fla. Stat. § 736.0804.").

"The elements of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty are: the existence of a fiduciary duty, and the breach of that duty such that it is the proximate cause of the plaintiff's damages."  Gracey v. Eaker, 837 So. 2d 348, 353 (Fla. 2002).

Joel Ewusiak frequently represents parties in lawsuits and arbitration proceedings involving allegations that fiduciary duties were owed and breached.  Please contact Joel for legal assistance with your particular matter.