United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PURE AIR DAIGLE, LLC, ET AL.
CHARLES STAGG, II, ET AL.
PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending is the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary
judgment with regard to their claim against defendants
Charles Stagg, II, Michael Scott Lanclos, Phillip Courville,
Jr., and Brad Guidry for breach of fiduciary duty. (Rec. Doc.
65). The motion is opposed. Considering the evidence, the
law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons
fully explained below, the motion is DENIED.
Stagg, Lanclos, Courville, and Guidry (“the Employee
Defendants”) were all formerly employed by Daigle
Welding Supply. The plaintiffs are the successors of that
company. Defendant Capitol Welders Supply Co. Inc. was a
long-time supplier of the plaintiffs. In 2016, Capitol formed
defendant St. Landry Gas & Supply, L.L.C., which is a
competitor of the plaintiffs. The Employee Defendants left
their employment with the plaintiffs and all of them went to
work for St. Landry Gas.
their complaint, the plaintiffs asserted claims against the
defendants for breach of contract, violation of the Louisiana
Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, breach of
fiduciary duties, conversion, conspiracy, tortious
interference with contractual relationships, and tortious
interference with business relationships.
instant motion relates solely to the plaintiffs' breach
of fiduciary duty claim against the Employee Defendants. In
the complaint, the plaintiffs contend that the Employee
Defendants breached the fiduciary duties that they owed to
the plaintiffs when they disclosed the plaintiffs'
confidential and proprietary information, including customer
and supplier lists, delivery schedules, and customer requires
during their employment with the plaintiffs. (Rec. Doc. 1 at
15). In the briefing, the plaintiffs expanded the scope of
the breach of fiduciary duty claim, arguing (1) that Stagg
breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiffs by seeking to
benefit himself and St. Landry Gas and by transacting St.
Landry Gas's business while Stagg remained employed by
the plaintiffs, (2) that Stagg breached his fiduciary duty to
the plaintiffs by knowingly involving himself in an
undisclosed conflict of interest while employed by the
plaintiffs, (3) that Lanclos, Courville, Guidry, and Stagg
breached their fiduciary duties to the plaintiffs while still
employed by the plaintiffs by encouraging each other and
others to take actions that injured the plaintiffs; (4) that
Stagg breached his fiduciary duty to the plaintiffs by lying
to his superiors and by concealing information from them, and
(5) that St. Landry Gas is vicariously liable for the
Employee Defendants' breaches of fiduciary duty.
The Applicable Summary Judgment Standard
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. A fact is material if proof of
its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the
lawsuit under the applicable governing law. A genuine issue
of material fact exists if a reasonable jury could render a
verdict for the nonmoving party.
party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility
of informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those parts of the record that demonstrate the
absence of genuine issues of material fact. If the moving
party carries its initial burden, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine
issue of a material fact. All facts and inferences are construed
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may
satisfy its burden by pointing out that there is insufficient
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's claim. The motion should be granted if the
nonmoving party cannot produce evidence to support an
essential element of its claim.
The Applicable Law
federal court sitting in diversity must apply state
substantive law and federal procedural law. Because this is a
diversity case, Louisiana's substantive law must be
applied. To determine Louisiana law, federal courts
look to the final decisions of the Louisiana Supreme
Court. When the state's highest court has
not decided an issue, the court must make an
“Erie guess” as to how the state supreme
court would decide the issue. In making such a guess, the
federal court may rely upon state appellate court decisions,
unless persuasive data convinces the court that the state
supreme court would decide the issue
differently. When making an Erie guess
concerning Louisiana law, the Fifth Circuit In making an Erie
guess, relies upon “(1) decisions of the [Louisiana]
Supreme Court in analogous cases, (2) the rationales and
analyses underlying [Louisiana] Supreme Court decisions on
related issues, (3) dicta by the [Louisiana] Supreme Court,
(4) lower state court decisions, (5) the general rule on the
question, (6) the rulings of courts of other states to which
[Louisiana] courts look when formulating substantive law and
(7) other available sources, such as treatises and legal
Breach of Fiduciary Duties
elements of a claim for breach of fiduciary duty under
Louisiana law include: (1) the existence of a fiduciary duty,
(2) a violation of that duty by the fiduciary, and (3)
damages resulting from the violation of duty.
“[W]hether a fiduciary duty exists, and the extent of
that duty, depends upon the facts and circumstances of the
case and the relationship of the
parties.” Employees and mandataries owe duties of
fidelity and loyalty to their employers and
principals.“An employee owes his employer a
duty to be loyal and faithful to the employer's interest
in business.” An employee is duty-bound not to act in
antagonism or opposition to the interest of his
courts have determined that, under circumstances where an
employee solicited customers and copied confidential customer
lists of his employer while still employed, ...