Even though plaintiff’s complaint did not use the word “conspiracy,” its allegations that the defendant attorney assisted a trustee in effectuating his plan to breach his fiduciary duties necessarily depended on an express or implied agreement between the attorney and the trustee to accomplish that tort and so charged a conspiracy.  The claim thus fell within the scope of CCP 1714.10 which requires prior court approval before filing a complaint charging an attorney conspired with his client in an attempt to contest or compromise a claim or dispute.  Some claims for aiding a breach of fiduciary duty may not fall within CCP 1714.10, but this one did since the complaint alleged joint action by trustee and lawyer.  The fact that the alleged conspiracy achieved a pre-litigation settlement of plaintiff’s threatened claim did not take it outside the statute’s scope.  The claim did not fall within either CCP 1714.10(c) exception.  The lawyer’s receipt of fees, even if excessive or unnecessary, isn’t the type of personal financial gain that fit within the exception.  Nor did the lawyer owe plaintiff any duty directly, but only a duty that was derivative of the client trustee’s fiduciary duty.  So the trial court should have dismissed the claim.

California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5 (Jones, P.J.); July 31, 2018 (modified & published August 21, 2018); 26 Cal. App. 5th 445