John and Debra Markl v. Leake

Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05-15-00455-CV

Justices Fillmore (Opinion), Stoddart, and O’Neill

Husband and wife sued the husband’s girlfriend of ten years to prevent the girlfriend from selling real property that husband had contributed money and effort to purchase, refurbish, and maintain. They claimed the now-former girlfriend, having become “involved” with the husband’s nephew, owed both of them an informal fiduciary duty based on the confidential relationship between the husband and his then-girlfriend that included mutual life insurance policies, the girlfriend’s executing a will with husband as her beneficiary, husband’s putting the girlfriend on his company’s payroll, and numerous cash payments to the girlfriend. The trial court denied the husband and wife’s request for a temporary injunction, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that no fiduciary relationship existed. As to the wife’s claim, the Court found no authority that recognized “a fiduciary relationship between the wife of a husband involved in an extramarital affair and the woman with whom the husband is carrying on the affair.” In addition, the husband did not “cite any case, and [the Court] found none, declaring the existence of a fiduciary duty based on an extramarital affair.” The Court concluded that husband and girlfriend were simply in a dating relationship, and their relationship consisted of “a legally married man and his mistress,” not a fiduciary relationship with heightened duties owed to one another.