A breach of trust occurs when one party acts in a way that breaks the terms of an established professional relationship, leading to harm to the other party. Breaches of trust typically refer to business and contractual relationships, such as that of the bank/customer, doctor/patient, beneficiary/trustee, guardian/ward, principal/agent, and attorney/client.
Two parties do not need a contract to have a fiduciary relationship – one in which each party owes duties of care to the other. They can have an understanding or a history of professional dealings with one another. A breach of trust is similar to a breach of fiduciary duty – they both represent instances in which one party breaks a contract, abuses power, or fails to carry out the standard duties of his/her position, causing harm to the other party. If this sounds like your situation, contact Butler Wooten & Peak LLP in Atlanta.
By law, a “breach of trust” is any violation of duties or of the terms of a trust, such as a contract. Breaking a promise, betraying someone’s confidence, or failing to obey duties of care may all be breaches of trust. The action does not have to be intentional, malicious, or “willful misappropriation” to qualify as a breach of trust. A breach of trust due to negligence or carelessness may also be grounds to file a claim. A breach of trust can take many forms, such as:
Breaches of trust can be criminal, civil, or both. Theft, for example, is a crime but also falls under the umbrella of a business tort. An employee working for a competitor’s company, on the other hand, is not a crime but it may be a civil wrong due to a breach of trust. Talk to an attorney to find out if you have criminal charges against the person breaching your trust as well as a civil claim. You can file both at the same time in Georgia.
To have the elements necessary to file a civil claim with the Georgia courts regarding a breach of trust, you must have suffered damages because of the breach. Damages can be financial losses, harmed reputation, lost business, personal injury, or emotional pain and suffering. If the claimant can prove that a fiduciary relationship existed, the defendant breached his/her duties (as the relationship demands), and that this breach caused harm, the courts may hold the defendant personally liable for losses.
Liability extends to both direct and indirect losses. The courts may also make the defendant hand over any profits he/she made from the breach of trust. In filing a claim, the plaintiff can recover for financial, social, and personal damages the breach caused. The plaintiff may also be eligible for punitive damages if the defendant acted maliciously or is guilty of gross negligence.
Breach of trust claims can be highly complex. Count on the attorneys at Butler Wooten & Peak LLP for trustworthy legal counsel during business tort claims. We’ve won well over $100 million in whistleblower cases and other similar torts. Call (800) 242-2962 for a free consultation.