In Rotstain v. Trustmark Nat’l Bank, plaintiffs sued banks for assisting Stanford and his entities regarding a Ponzi scheme. No. 3:09-CV-2384-N, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10332 (N.D. Tex. January 20, 2022). Stanford and the entities under his control sold fraudulent certificates of deposit (“CDs”) issued by the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Limited (“SIBL”). The CDs paid relatively high rates of interest, but SIBL claimed it deployed the funds raised from CD sales only in low risk, high return funds. In reality, the CD proceeds were used to finance Stanford’s own extravagant lifestyle, and to pay off previous investors. In this suit, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant financial institutions provided banking services that supported and furthered Stanford’s scheme.
Continue Reading Federal Court Denies Defendant Banks’ Motion For Summary Judgment On Plaintiffs’ Knowing Participation In Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claim In Stanford Ponzi Scheme Case

In R.P. Small Corp. v. Land Dep’t, Inc., the plaintiff sued the defendant for breaching fiduciary duties due to a confidential relationship regarding oil and gas development. No. H-20-14902021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133695 (S. D. Tex. July 19, 2021). The plaintiff alleged that the defendant took advantage of his relationship, lied about his qualifications and experience, and overbilled and had self-dealing transactions. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the economic loss rule, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims all arose from oral and written contracts. The federal district court denied the motion to dismiss. The court first discussed the economic loss rule:

Under Texas law, the “economic loss rule generally precludes recovery in tort for economic losses resulting from a party’s failure to perform a contract when the harm consists only of the economic loss of a contractual expectancy.” In determining if the economic loss rule applies, Texas courts look to both the “source of the alleged duty and the nature of the claimed injury.” “[A] party may elect a recovery in tort if the duty breached stands independent from the contractual undertaking, and the alleged damages are not solely the result of a bargained-for contractual benefit.” This is because “‘[t]ort obligations are in general obligations that are imposed by law—apart from and independent of promises made and therefore apart from the manifested intention of the parties—to avoid injury to others.’”


Continue Reading Federal Courts Deny Motions To Dismiss Breach Of Fiduciary Duty Claims Due To The Economic Loss Rule

In Novedea Sys. v. Colaberry, Inc., co-founders of a business discussed terms of a buy-out, but ended up in litigation. No. 6:20-cv-00180-JDK, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152372 (E. D. Tex. August 13, 2021). One co-founder sued on his behalf and on behalf of the company against the other co-founder without discussing the suit with the other co-founder or the board of directors. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff did not have authority to file a lawsuit for the company. The plaintiff responded that his “authority derives from his standing “as a longtime manager and corporate officer” of Novedea, or alternatively, as a shareholder bringing a derivative action.” Id.
Continue Reading Court Holds That Shareholder Derivative Suit May Proceed Against An Officer Without A Pre-Suit Demand Where The Case Involved A Closely-Held Corporation

In Belliveau v. Barco, Inc., a licensor of intellectual property sued the owner of the licensee for breach of fiduciary duty related to the sublicensing to a third party. No. 19-50717, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 2489 (5th Cir. January 28, 2021). The district court dismissed the claim, and the plaintiff appealed. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that the defendant did not owe a fiduciary duty to the plaintiff.
Continue Reading Court Holds That A Defendant Did Not Owe A Fiduciary Duty To An Affiliate’s Licensee Because Its In-House Attorneys Did Not Have An Attorney/Client Relationship To The Plaintiff And There Was No Informal Confidential Relationship