In Roberts v. Overby-Seawell Co., an employee sued his former employer for the failure to pay commissions. No. 3:15-CV-1217-L, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47821 (N.D. Tex. March 23, 2018). The former employer filed a counterclaim for breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the employee’s failure to disclose that he had an interest in other entities with whom the employer was entering into transactions. Both parties filed dispositive motions, and the court refused to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaim. The employee argued that he did not owe a fiduciary duty and that the former employer had no evidence of damages arising from his alleged breach of fiduciary duties. The former employer argued that the employee owed a fiduciary duty and breached that duty by failing to disclose his ownership interest in other entities, and by focusing his time and effort on those entities to his own personal benefit instead of pursuing new business for the employer. The court stated:
Under Texas law, the elements of a breach of fiduciary duty claim are: (1) the existence of a fiduciary relationship; (2) a breach of the fiduciary duty; and (3) the breach resulted in injury to the plaintiff or benefit to the defendant. Texas recognizes that the agent-principal relationship gives rise to a fiduciary duty. An agent “has a duty to deal openly with the employer and to fully disclose to the employer information about matters affecting the company’s business.” Further, an agent who negotiates on behalf of his principal must disclose any adverse interest in the matter of the negotiation. An agent owes a “duty to deal fairly with the principal in all transactions between them.” First, the court concludes that Roberts, acting as an agent who negotiated on behalf of OSC, owed Defendants a fiduciary duty that arose as a matter of law as part of the principal agent relationship. Second, contrary to Roberts’s argument in his motion for summary judgment, Defendants do not need evidence of damages, as a benefit to the plaintiff suffices to prevail on a breach of fiduciary duty claim. Roberts’s income tax returns are evidence of profits from these other businesses sufficient to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether he benefited from the alleged breach. Having reviewed the summary judgment record, the court determines that the parties have provided conflicting evidence as to whether Roberts fully disclosed his ownership interest and active role in other entities to Defendants, including Equiguard Agency, Lendwell, and Tech2Roi. As this issue is at the heart of Defendants’ breach of fiduciary duty counterclaim, the court will deny Roberts’s motion for summary judgment on this counterclaim.