Spengler & Agans takes pride in standing up for the powerless in cases where an abuse of power has resulted in harm. Our practice in this area includes cases involving consumer protection law, whistleblower cases, breach of fiduciary duty (duty of loyalty), and the N.C. Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Fraud / Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
Many civil cases in North Carolina include allegations of unfair and deceptive trade practices, brought under North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This is one of the more straightforward statutes on the books. The Act declares that “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are declared unlawful.” This is one of several claims, including fraud, that can be made in a case alleging that a party was deceived by another.
Our blog looked at these common claims through the lens of the infamous Fyre Festival, in a two-part blog series (part 1 and part 2). We also have written about some more the more obscure consumer protection laws.
Spengler & Agans has experience litigating fraud and unfair trade practices claims on behalf of these representative clients:
- a widow who brought claims against numerous defendants who were alleged to be part of a “Dead Sea Fraud” scheme that included selling deceptively marketed cosmetic products at South Park mall;
- eight homeowners in an action against a national homebuilder alleging the homeowners were deceived about the homebuilders plans to build their houses on a 25-foot eroding cliff that was created by backfill;
- a businessman who purchased a healthcare company from a buyer who allegedly concealed an ongoing investigation by Medicaid for more than $1 million in claimed overpayments to the company for services that were never performed; and
- a patient who was charged in excess of $50,000 for an emergency medical airlift after the airlift company attempted to “balance bill” the patient for tens of thousands of dollars that were not covered by health insurance.
Whistleblower (False Claims Act)
Spengler & Agans offers legal representation of whistleblowers who report fraud on the government (False Claims Act) and other unlawful behavior. Our firm has experience litigating whistleblower claims on behalf of these representative clients:
- an anonymous whistleblower who reported alleged fraudulent billing of Medicare for medically unnecessary services, under the False Claims Act;
- a truck driver who alleged he was terminated for whistleblowing on his employer’s requirement that he drive in excess of the maximum time allowed by federal trucking laws; and
- a business accounts manager who alleged that his employer demoted him in retaliation for reporting fraudulent conduct by the manager’s direct supervisor that created safety hazards and potential damage to the company’s shareholders.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
A claim for breach of fiduciary duty can arise when a person in such a position of trust fails to act in the best interest of the other party. In our day-to-day life, we owe a duty to act reasonably in our interactions with others, and a breach of this duty can give rise to a claim for negligence. Our legal system also recognizes special relationships, in which one party owes an elevated duty of care and loyalty. Think of an attorney-client relationship, or the relationship between a trustee and the beneficiaries of the trust. Attorneys and trustees have a “fiduciary duty,” that is an obligation to act in the best interest of another party.
These cases for breach of fiduciary duty often are heard in the North Carolina Business Court, which handles cases involving complex disputes.
Spengler & Agans has experience litigating on behalf of plaintiffs in claims of breach of fiduciary duty, including the following representative clients:
- represented beneficiaries against a trustee who allegedly failed to distribute the beneficiaries their share of distributions and entrusted trust assets to a now-disbarred attorney who absconded with the money;
- represented a client of an attorney in a claim for professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duty against the attorney for allegedly deficient legal advice that resulted in damages to client;
- represented the children of a decedent who alleged that the trustee mismanaged the trust assets, including a golf course that ultimately was lost to a foreclosure.