Texas Fiduciary Litigator

Texas Fiduciary Litigator

The Intersection of Texas Courts and the Fiduciary field

David Fowler Johnson

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Court Finds That Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claims Is Preempted By Trade Secrets Claim

In Super Starr Int’l, LLC v. Fresh Tex Produce, LLC, a Texas entity that distributes produce throughout the United States filed suit against another Texas entity that imports foreign grown produce into the United States and other related entities for a variety of claims arising from the defendants’ attempts to distribute produce without the plaintiff.… Continue Reading

Court Reverses Summary Judgment For Directors Because They Could Not Consent To Their Own Breaches of Fiduciary Duty

In Corley v. Hendricks, three individuals (Gaylen, Dan, and Corley) operated a business as shareholders, officers, and directors. No. 02-16-00293-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3846 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth April 27, 2017, no pet. history). Galen then terminated Corley and removed him as an officer and director. Corley then sued the other two for breach of… Continue Reading

Court Reviews Damages For Mental Anguish, Exemplary Damages, and Other Categories For A Trustee’s Breach Of Fiduciary Duty

In Wells Fargo v. Militello, a trustee appealed a judgment from a bench trial regarding a beneficiary’s claims for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and fraud. No. 05-15-01252-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 5640 (Tex. App.—Dallas June 20, 2017, no pet. history). Militello was an orphan when her grandmother and great-grandmother created trusts for her. She… Continue Reading

Courts Hold That Fiduciaries Waived Complaints About Trial Court Orders

In In re Estate of Roach, a trial court removed an executor for multiple grounds, including: (1) Texas Estates Code Section 404.0035(b)(5), which authorizes removal when an independent executor becomes incapable of properly performing his fiduciary duties due to a material conflict of interest, and (2) Section 404.0035(b)(3), which authorizes removal when an independent executor… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Texas Recognizes A Tortious Interference With Inheritance Claim

In Anderson v. Archer, the trial court’s judgment awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million in damages based on a tortious interference with inheritance claim. No. 03-13-00790-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 2165 (Tex. App.—Austin March 2, 2016, pet. granted). The defendants appealed and argued that Texas law does not recognize such a claim. The court of appeals… Continue Reading

In A Usurpation Of Corporate Opportunity Case, The Texas Supreme Court Reversed A Constructive Trust Due To A Failure To Trace The Property To The Alleged Fiduciary Breaches And Reversed A Disgorgement Award Because There Was No Finding Of The Fiduciaries’ Profits

In Longview Energy Co. v. The Huff Energy Fund, LP, Longview Energy Company sued two of its directors and their affiliates after discovering one affiliate purchased mineral leases in an area where Longview had been investigating the possibility of buying leases. No. 15-0968, 2017 Tex. LEXIS 525 (Tex. June 9, 2017). A jury found that… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Refuses To Rule On Whether Texas Recognizes Tortious Interference With Inheritance Rights And Affirms A Constructive Trust Based On A Finding Of Mental Incompetence

In Jackson Walker LLPO v. Kinsel, Lesey and E.A. Kinsel owned a ranch, and when E.A. died, he divided his half between his children and Lesey. Jackson Walker, LLPO v. Kinsel, No. 07-13-00130-CV, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 3586 (Tex. App.—Amarillo April 10, 2015), aff’d in part, 2017 Tex. LEXIS 477 (Tex. May 26, 2017). Lesey… Continue Reading

Court Affirms Jury Finding Of No Breach Of Fiduciary Duty In Partnership Dispute

In Thunder Rose Enters. v. Kirk, the plaintiffs sued the defendant for various claims, including breach of fiduciary duty based on an alleged partnership dispute. No. 13-15-00431-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3481 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi April 20, 2017, no pet. history). The jury determined that the defendant did not breach a duty, and the plaintiffs… Continue Reading

Court Held That Submission Of Jury Question On Fiduciary Duty Was Harmless Due To Duplication Of Damages

In Hughes v. Hughes, a husband and wife sued each other for various claims, including breach of fiduciary duty. No. 13-15-00496-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 3489 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi April 20, 2017, no pet. history). In the charge conference, the wife objected to the question as having an improper definition of fiduciary duty and objected… Continue Reading

Court Held That Settlor Had Standing To Assert Extra-Contractual Misrepresentation Claims Regarding Insurance Policies He Previously Transferred To An Irrevocable Insurance Trust

In Lee v. Rogers Agency, Lee purchased three whole-life insurance policies in the 1980s where each had a face value of $1,000,000. No. 06-15-00037, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1069 (Tex. App.—Texarkana February 8, 2017, pet. filed). It was represented to Lee that the policies provided that Lee could shorten the premium payment period by tendering… Continue Reading

Court Holds That Shareholders In Closely Held Business Do Not Owe Each Other Fiduciary Duties

In In re Fritz, a bankruptcy court determined whether an exception to dischargeability was present. No. 15-347950BJH, 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 930 (N.D. Tex. Bankr. April 3, 2017). Although the state court judgment jointly awarded the plaintiffs $100,000 in damages and post-judgment interest, it did not specify which of the claims pled in the underlying state… Continue Reading

Court Holds That Family Member Did Not Owe Fiduciary Duties To Other Family Member

In Walker v. Walker, a son sued his father and brother regarding the ownership of a beach house. No. 14-16-00357-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2742 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] March 30, 2017, no pet. history). The son alleged that the father made an oral gift of the property to the son. The son alleged that… Continue Reading

Court Affirms Sanctions Order Against Fiduciary Due To Discovery Abuses

In Eng v. Kolbe, a mother sued her daughter for abusing a power of attorney document. No. 03-15-00409-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2680 (Tex. App.—Austin March 30, 2017). The daughter was assisting her aging parents with their finances as her father suffered from dementia and her mother suffered from macular degeneration. Later the mother revoked… Continue Reading

Court Holds That Members of LLC May Owe Each Other Fiduciary Duties

In B Choice v. Epicentre Development Associates, the federal district court affirmed a magistrate’s recommendations concerning whether members of an LLC owe fiduciary duties to each other in Texas. No. H-14-2096, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46284 (S. D. Tex. March 29, 2017). The court held that whether the members owed each other fiduciary duties was… Continue Reading

Court Enforces Release Agreement Between Trustees/Executors and A Beneficiary

In Harrison v. Harrison Interests, a beneficiary of an estate and multiple trusts had a dispute with the executors and trustees. No. 14-15-00348-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1677 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] February 28, 2017, no pet. history). The parties then executed a master settlement agreement that allowed the parties to dissociate themselves, distribute property,… Continue Reading

Court Denied Motion To Stay Enforcement of A Turnover Order Against Fiduciary

In In the Estate of Gary, a trial court granted a motion to remove an administrator and later granted a turn over order regarding same. No. 07-16-00421-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1991 (Tex. App.—Amarillo March 8, 2017, no pet. history). The administrator filed two motions requesting that the trial court set a supersedeas amount on… Continue Reading

Court Held That Company’s Employee Did Not Owe Fiduciary Duty To Vendor

In E-Learning LLC v. AT&T Corp., the plaintiff provided computer software services to the defendant. No. 04-16-00291-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1726 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2017, no pet. history). Beginning in 2010, the parties changed the way they transacted business. From 2010 to 2012, the plaintiff provided goods and services on three projects and dealt… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Addresses The Causation Requirement For A Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim And Conspiracy, Aiding And Abetting Breach Of Fiduciary Duty, And Joint Venture Theories

In First United Pentecostal Church of Beaumont v. Parker, a church hired an attorney to defend it against sexual abuse allegations. 2017 Tex. LEXIS 295 (Tex. March 17, 2017). During the same time, the church also engaged the attorney to assist in a hurricane/insurance claim. When the insurance company offered to pay over $1 million… Continue Reading

Court Finds Manufacturer/Distributor Relationship Does Not Create An Informal Fiduciary Relationship

In Samsung Electronics America v. Chung, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (“Samsung”) filed suit against All Pro Distributing, Inc. (“All Pro”) and certain former employees alleging claims for breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty related to an alleged scheme involving the distribution of service parts for Samsung devices. No. 3:15-CV-4108-D,… Continue Reading

Court Finds That There Is A Fact Issue On Whether Corporate Shareholder And Officer Breached Fiduciary Duties To Creditors

In Tow v. Wellington Yu, a bankruptcy trustee sued a corporation’s shareholder and officer for breaching fiduciary duties by entering into a settlement agreement that required the sale of real estate where the defendant would take a percentage of the proceeds. No. H-14-3103, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21987 (S.D. Tex. January 30, 2017). The defendant… Continue Reading

Courts Hold That Multiple Probate Court Orders Were Not Appealable

In The Management Trust of Norsworthy, the court reviewed a trustee’s accountings and petition for approval to enter into an agreement with the beneficiary’s wife to make regular distributions to her for certain recurring expenses. No. 05-16-00683-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1335 (Tex. App.—Dallas February 15, 2017, no pet.). Thereafter, the beneficiary’s wife attempted to… Continue Reading

Please Release Me, Let Me Go: Court Affirms The Appointment Of A Receiver Over Ray Price’s Assets Pending A Contest

In In re Estate of Price, Ray Price, a renowned country music singer and songwriter, died in 2013 and was survived by his wife and his biological son. No. 06-16-00062-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 1265 (Tex. App.—Texarkana February 15, 2017, no pet. history). Crazy Arms [And Maybe Mind?]. Shortly before Price’s death, and while he… Continue Reading

Court Holds That A One-Line Will Should Have Been Admitted To Probate

In In the Estate of Setser, the decedent signed a 1993 will naming his daughter as the sole beneficiary. No. 01-15-00855-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 937 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] February 2, 2017, no pet. history). Later, in 2014, he signed a hand-written will naming his good friend and roommate Heim as the sole beneficiary… Continue Reading
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