Stephenson v. Cooke, Del. Ch., C.A. No. 3110-VCL (Sept. 24, 2008). In this 30-page Chancery Court decision, which is by necessity very factually intensive, the Chancery Court reasoned that a fiduciary relationship did not exist between two close friends, where one had relied extensively on the other to assist with financial affairs. The extensive factual details are indispensable to an understanding of the case but are far more lengthy than I intend to include in this short blurb. The key point is the discussion by the Court of when the existence of the fiduciary relationship/duty will be found. Reference to the Court’s analysis on pages 6 through 8 are especially helpful in this regard.
UPDATE: I just found out, as reported in my blog post here, that the Court recently took the unusual step of granting a motion to vacate this decision, apparently as part of a settlement.
UPDATE II: As a professional courtesy and a favor to plaintiff’s counsel in this case, at her request, I have decided as a gesture of goodwill on this day before Thanksgiving 2008, to delete the link to the actual opinion in this case. Although I have no obligation to do so, and neither plaintiff’s counsel nor anyone else has presented me with any controlling authority to require me to delete from my blog an opinion that had been previously published in full on the court’s own website, I decided for the first time since I started this blog almost 4 years ago, to take this action because, in part, I would appreciate someone doing that for me "if I were on the other side of the phone". Also, as an aside, I very recently learned that prior to vacating the opinion, the court had, subsequent to publishing the opinion, ordered some parts of it to be sealed. As a supplement to the foregoing, see letter here that was forwarded to me today from plaintiff’s counsel.