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Professional negligence alone does not give rise automatically to a claim for breach of fiduciary duty. Although an attorney-client relationship imposes a fiduciary duty on the attorney not every instance of professional negligence results in a breach of that fiduciary duty. A fiduciary or confidential relationship is characterized by a unique degree of trust and confidence between the parties, one of whom has superior knowledge, skill or expertise and is under a duty to represent the interests of the other.
The corporation filed an action against its former attorneys alleging legal malpractice (count one), breach of contract (count two), intentional misrepresentation (counts three and five), negligent misrepresentation (count four), breach of fiduciary duty (count six), breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (count seven), and violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42-110a et seq. (count eight). The trial court rendered judgment for the corporation on the first, second, fourth, sixth, and seventh counts and for the attorneys on the third, fifth, and eighth counts. The trial court then awarded the corporation damages. The attorneys appealed the judgment, and the corporation filed a cross-appeal.
Did the trial court err in rendering judgment against a junior associate attorney on the negligent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty claims based on the same conduct underlying the judgment of malpractice?
After transfer, the court held the trial court had improperly rendered judgment against a junior associate attorney on the negligent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty claims based on the same conduct underlying the judgment of malpractice. Also, the court found the corporation failed to sustain its burden of proving damages with reasonable certainty. But the court affirmed the rejection of the corporation's claim under § 42-110a et seq.