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How the Wrong Strategy Can Kill Your New York Breach of Fiduciary Duty Case

 

If you thought that a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit is essentially a boilerplate exercise, let me disabuse you of that notion right here and now.

 

It isn't.

 

And the reason why it must be carefully analyzed - and strategized - is because the very life and death of your claim may depend on it. Let me explain.

 

As noted in "How to Calculate the Time Limit for NY Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims," this particular genre of claims is unique because, at least to my knowledge, they are the only type of claims that have a variable statute of limitations. Unlike other claims, such as a run-of-the-mill breach of contract claim, which has an established six-year statute of limitations (unless the contract between the parties shortens the time within which to file a claim), the time limit within which you can bring a breach of fiduciary duty claim depends entirely on the type of judicial relief you seek.

 

Thus, for example, if you want the court to undo the (unwritten) deal you had with the defendant, you are seeking equitable relief, and therefore, will have the benefit of a six-year time period within which to file your claim; on the other hand, if your claim is purely to recover monetary damages, your claim will be classified as "an injury to property" within New York's statutory scheme, and then you will only have three (3) years to bring suit.

 

The lessons to be gleaned from this are clear: (1) if you suspect that you may have a breach of fiduciary duty claim on your hands, keep one eye on the calendar to make sure you don't blow any statutes of limitations; and, (2) before filing a breach of fiduciary duty claim, make sure you've carefully analyzed the facts of your particular case with an attorney experienced in this area.