Lighthouse Group, LLC v. Strauss (Lawyers Weekly No. 002-040-16, 12 pp.) (David Norton, J.) 9:15-cv-02463; D.S.C.
Holding: Where plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim arises solely out of defendants’ alleged failure to comply with the standard of care and involves the same factual allegations as plaintiffs’ legal malpractice claim, plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim is duplicative of its legal malpractice claim.
The court grants defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ breach of contract and unfair trade practices claims.
In support of their unfair trade practices claim, plaintiffs allege that the defendant-attorney used “his fiduciary capacity as both their lawyer and a business partner as a vehicle to misappropriate valuable corporate information and business opportunities that belonged to his Lighthouse clients” and that “after acting as a lawyer and a business partner for several years, [the attorney] secretly started his own competing companies and purloined the business of Lighthouse’s established customers and new customer referrals for the benefit of his own competing companies.”
Plaintiffs have failed to allege sufficient facts to show that the attorney’s conduct had an adverse impact on the public interest. Furthermore, the complaint does not provide a factual basis as to what actions constitute a violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act. The complaint provides no specific facts demonstrating that the attorney has conducted the same kind of actions in the past or that his procedures or business practices created a potential for repetition in the future. Plaintiffs’ allegations are insufficient to state a SCUTPA violation.