CACI 4103 Duty of Confidentiality—Essential Factual Elements

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4103 Duty of Confidentiality—Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun/it] was harmed by [name of defendant]’s breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1.That [name of defendant] was [name of plaintiff]’s [agent/stockbroker/real estate agent/real estate broker/corporate officer/partner/[insert other fiduciary relationship]];

2.That [name of defendant] had information relating to [name of plaintiff] that [he/she/nonbinary pronoun/it] knew or should have known was confidential;

3.That [name of defendant] [insert one of the following:]

[used [name of plaintiff]’s confidential information for [his/her/nonbinary pronoun/its] own benefit;]

[communicated [name of plaintiff]’s confidential information to third parties;]

4.That [name of plaintiff] did not give informed consent to [name of defendant]’s conduct;

5.That the confidential information was not a matter of general knowledge;

6.That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

7.That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.

Directions for Use

The instructions in this series are intended for lawsuits brought by or on behalf of the principal. They also assume that the plaintiff is bringing a legal cause of action, not an action in equity. (See Van de Kamp v. Bank of America (1988) 204 Cal.App.3d 819 [251 Cal.Rptr. 530].)

For a breach of fiduciary duty instruction in cases involving attorney defendants, see CACI No. 4106, Breach of Fiduciary Duty by Attorney—Essential Factual Elements.

While the advisory committee has not included “employee” as an option for identifying the defendant agent in element 1, there may be cases in which certain employees qualify as “agents,” thereby subjecting them to liability for breach of fiduciary duty.

A cause of action relating to the misuse of confidential information may also be brought, in certain circumstances, against non-fiduciaries. This instruction may be modified to apply to such cases.

Sources and Authority

Restatement Second of Agency, section 395, states: “Unless otherwise agreed, an agent is subject to a duty to the principal not to use or to communicate information confidentially given him by the principal or acquired by him during the course of or on account of his agency or in violation of his duties as agent, in competition with or to the injury of the principal, on his own account or on behalf of another, although such information does not relate to the transaction in which he is then employed, unless the information is a matter of general knowledge.”

“ ‘The law of confidential relationships governs duties of trust that one is not obligated to assume. Once a person commits himself to a confidential relationship, the law requires him to fulfill the duties attendant to the relationship. Confidential relations protect the trust that is implicit in relationships between employers and employees, between masters and servants, and between principals and agents, rather than the information that may pass between these parties.’ ” (Balboa Ins. Co. v. Trans Global Equities (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 1327, 1350–1351 [267 Cal.Rptr. 787], original italics, internal citation omitted.)

Secondary Sources

37 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 427, Principal and Agent, § 427.12[3] (Matthew Bender)