Monday, October 5, 2015

Statute of limitations in a breach of fiduciary duty action.

Practice point:  New York law does not provide a single statute of limitations for breach of fiduciary duty claims.  Instead, the applicable limitations period depends on the substantive remedy that the plaintiff seeks. Where the remedy sought is purely monetary in nature, courts construe the suit as alleging an injury to property, within the meaning of CPLR 214(4), which has a three-year limitations period.  However, if the relief sought is equitable in nature, the six-year limitations period of CPLR 213(1) applies.

Student note:  If a fraud allegation is essential to a breach of fiduciary duty claim, courts have applied a six-year statute of limitations under CPLR 213(8).  However courts will not apply the fraud statute of limitations if the fraud allegation is only incidental to the claim asserted, figuring that, otherwise, a fraud allegation could be used as a means to litigate stale claims.  So, where a fraud allegation is not essential to the pleaded cause of action, except as an answer to an anticipated defense of statute of limitations, courts will look for the reality and essence of the action and not its mere name.

Case:  DiRaimondo v. Calhoun, NY Slip Op 07002 (2d Dept. 2015)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  A claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress in a family dispute.