In Budri v. FirstFleet, Inc., an employee sued his employer and supervisor for a number of causes of action, including a claim for breach of fiduciary duty. No. 3:19-CV-0409-N-BH, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188251 (N.D. Tex. September 20, 2019). The federal magistrate recommended dismissing the breach of fiduciary duty claim because there were no allegations that supported the defendants owing a fiduciary duty to the employee:

Under Texas law, the essential elements of a breach of fiduciary duty claim are “(1) a fiduciary relationship must exist between the plaintiff and defendant; (2) the defendant must have breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiff; and (3) the defendant’s breach must result in injury to the plaintiff or benefit to the defendant.” Hunn v. Dan Wilson Homes, Inc., 789 F.3d 573, 581 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Graham Mortg. Corp. v. Hall, 307 S.W.3d 472, 479 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2010, no pet.)). Whether a party owes a fiduciary duty is a question of law. Meyer v. Cathey, 167 S.W.3d 327, 330 (Tex. 2005). Courts impose fiduciary duties on parties based on the special nature of the relationships between such parties. Johnson v. Brewer & Pritchard, P.C., 73 S.W.3d 193, 199 (Tex. 2002). A fiduciary duty arises from certain formal relationships as a matter of law, such as an attorney-client or trustee relationship. Id. Courts also recognize an informal fiduciary duty that arises from “a moral, social, domestic or purely personal relationship of trust and confidence.” Associated Indem. Corp. v. CAT Contracting, Inc., 964 S.W.2d 276, 287 (Tex. 1998). Here, Plaintiff alleges that on January 30, 2017, he put in a request to purchase a new headlamp bulb to replace the burnt-out bulb in his commercial truck as was necessary to comply with safety regulations, but Supervisor denied his request. Plaintiff contends by denying his request, Supervisor breached his fiduciary duty by failing to comply with a provision in the employee handbook that required him to assist Plaintiff while he was on the road, and to authorize electronic payments to allow him to pay for “parts and/or accessories of the truck equipment for minor repairs . . . to be made by the . . . [him] on the road” in order to comply with safety regulations. (Id.) Although Plaintiff appears to allege that Supervisor owed him a duty to assist him while on the road, he fails to identify any “special relationship” between him and Supervisor or any other Defendant, and he fails to allege how any breach directly resulted in an injury to him. (See id.) Even accepting all of his allegations as true, Plaintiff fails to state a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, and this claim should be dismissed. See Richardson v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, No. 3:13-CV-2578-O, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177318, 2014 WL 7336890, at *7-8 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 24, 2014) (dismissing breach of fiduciary duty claims where plaintiff failed to allege existence of a “special relationship of trust and confidence”); see also Johnson v. Affiliated Computer Servs., Inc., No. 3:10-CV-2333-B, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102128, 2011 WL 4011429, at *6 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 9, 2011) (dismissing breach of fiduciary duty claim where plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts that would indicate the existence of a fiduciary duty owed by the defendant); cf. Kardell v. Union Bankers Ins. Co., No. 05-01-00662-CV, 2002 Tex. App. LEXIS 5760, 2002 WL 1809867, at *7 (Tex. App.—Dallas Aug. 8, 2002, no pet.) (finding that a fiduciary duty did not exist between an employer and employee “based solely on the length of the employment relationship and the employee’s subjective trust of the employer.” (citing cases)).


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Photo of David Fowler Johnson David Fowler Johnson

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David maintains an active trial and appellate practice and has consistently worked on financial institution litigation matters throughout his career. David is the primary author of the The Fiduciary Litigator blog, which reports on legal cases and issues impacting the fiduciary…

[email protected]

David maintains an active trial and appellate practice and has consistently worked on financial institution litigation matters throughout his career. David is the primary author of the The Fiduciary Litigator blog, which reports on legal cases and issues impacting the fiduciary field in Texas. Read More

David’s financial institution experience includes (but is not limited to): breach of contract, foreclosure litigation, lender liability, receivership and injunction remedies upon default, non-recourse and other real estate lending, class action, RICO actions, usury, various tort causes of action, breach of fiduciary duty claims, and preference and other related claims raised by receivers.

David also has experience in estate and trust disputes including will contests, mental competency issues, undue influence, trust modification/clarification, breach of fiduciary duty and related claims, and accountings. David’s recent trial experience includes:

  • Representing a bank in federal class action suit where trust beneficiaries challenged whether the bank was the authorized trustee of over 220 trusts;
  • Representing a bank in state court regarding claims that it mismanaged oil and gas assets;
  • Representing a bank who filed suit in probate court to modify three trusts to remove a charitable beneficiary that had substantially changed operations;
  • Represented an individual executor of an estate against claims raised by a beneficiary for breach of fiduciary duty and an accounting; and
  • Represented an individual trustee against claims raised by a beneficiary for breach of fiduciary duty, mental competence of the settlor, and undue influence.

David is one of twenty attorneys in the state (of the 84,000 licensed) that has the triple Board Certification in Civil Trial Law, Civil Appellate and Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Additionally, David is a member of the Civil Trial Law Commission of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This commission writes and grades the exam for new applicants for civil trial law certification.

David maintains an active appellate practice, which includes:

  • Appeals from final judgments after pre-trial orders such as summary judgments or after jury trials;
  • Interlocutory appeals dealing with temporary injunctions, arbitration, special appearances, sealing the record, and receiverships;
  • Original proceedings such as seeking and defending against mandamus relief; and
  • Seeking emergency relief staying trial court’s orders pending appeal or mandamus.

For example, David was the lead appellate lawyer in the Texas Supreme Court in In re Weekley Homes, LP, 295 S.W.3d 309 (Tex. 2009). The Court issued a ground-breaking opinion in favor of David’s client regarding the standards that a trial court should follow in ordering the production of computers in discovery.

David previously taught Appellate Advocacy at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law located in Fort Worth. David is licensed and has practiced in the U.S. Supreme Court; the Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Federal Circuits; the Federal District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas; the Texas Supreme Court and various Texas intermediate appellate courts. David also served as an adjunct professor at Baylor University Law School, where he taught products liability and portions of health law. He has authored many legal articles and spoken at numerous legal education courses on both trial and appellate issues. His articles have been cited as authority by the Texas Supreme Court (twice) and the Texas Courts of Appeals located in Waco, Texarkana, Beaumont, Tyler and Houston (Fourteenth District), and a federal district court in Pennsylvania. David’s articles also have been cited by McDonald and Carlson in their Texas Civil Practice treatise, William v. Dorsaneo in the Texas Litigation Guide, and various authors in the Baylor Law ReviewSt. Mary’s Law JournalSouth Texas Law Review and Tennessee Law Review.

Representative Experience

  • Civil Litigation and Appellate Law