(CN) – A Kansas lawyer’s breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims against stockholders of the law firm that fired him do not survive summary judgment because stockholders acted within the scope of their duties by firing the lawyer for altering time sheets, a Kansas Court of Appeals ruled.
Daniel Diederich, also a stockholder in the firm, claimed that the four other stockholders of Kennedy Berkley Yarnevich & Williamson owed him fiduciary duty and tortiously interfered with his employment contract by firing him without allowing him access to meetings and unfairly paying him for his interest in the firm.
“Diederich has neither alleged facts to support his claim that there was a breach, nor tied these breach allegations to any of the damages he claims,” wrote Judge Hill. “Diederich’s claims are based on the actions taken by Defendants in terminating Diederich’s employment with the firm. Fiduciary duties owed by directors and officers do not extend to employees of the firm.”
In throwing out the tortious interference claim, the appeals court ruled that Diederich failed to identify what contract the stockholders interfered with and failed to provide evidence of the interference.
Affirming the district court’s summary judgment, Judge Hill wrote that “(Diederich) has not shown (the stockholders) were acting for their own individual advantage or that the Defendants were not acting for the benefit of the corporation.”