Fiduciary Relationships

Disputes involving fiduciary relationships, such as the relationship between a trustee and the beneficiaries of a trust or between business partners, present unique challenges due to the extraordinary powers and obligations that fiduciaries have under the law, and also due to the close connections that sometimes exist between fiduciaries and those whom they serve.  Fiduciary relationships also can arise in the context of certain executive compensation and employment disputes, professional liability claims, and disputes over corporate governance. 

We have advised trustees and other fiduciaries as well as beneficiaries before, during, and after disputes over breaches of fiduciary duty and related claims.  We have advised trustees, beneficiaries and business partners regarding their rights and obligations under the law.  When necessary, we vigorously litigate or defend against claims that a fiduciary has violated his or her duties in arbitration and in court.  At all times, we assist our clients in respecting and enforcing the profound powers and duties that fiduciaries have.

Representative Matters

  • We secured a dismissal with prejudice of all claims brought against our clients in a hotly contested seven-figure breach of fiduciary duty case in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  Our clients were sued for breach of fiduciary and related claims by their purported joint venture partner, who alleged that our clients failed to distribute profits in accordance with the parties’ allegedly agreed-upon formula.  The Court granted our clients’ motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice and ruled in our clients’ favor with respect to one of two counts of their counterclaim.  The purported joint venture partner paid our clients to settle the other count of our clients’ counterclaim, after we defeated his motion to dismiss.  
  • We obtained judgment on the merits in favor of a trustee of several interrelated trusts, in a contentious family dispute over the management of the trusts.  The judgment was the culmination of four years of litigation that began when a co-trustee and a beneficiary sued our client in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, alleging breach of fiduciary duty and seeking our client's removal as trustee.  After obtaining dismissal of several claims as a matter of law, we conducted a four-day bench trial on the remaining claims.  The Court ruled in favor of our client on all four remaining claims brought against the trustee, exonerating our client of all allegations of wrongdoing and confirming the trustee's continuing authority to make trust decisions.
  • We obtained a complete defense victory on behalf of the managing partner of an investment partnership sued by six of the partnership’s minority partners for breach of fiduciary duty in an American Arbitration Association hearing.  The minority partners requested almost $1 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages and attorney fees. After a five-day hearing, the three-member AAA panel unanimously awarded the claimants less than $74K, which was substantially the same amount that our client stipulated to be due (i.e., less than 1/10th of what the claimants demanded). The panel also denied in full the claimants’ request for punitive damages and attorney fees.
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