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Osuna v. Quintana

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Osuna and Jose Quintana (Jose) appealed a judgment to reimburse Socorro Quintana for money that Jose gave to Osuna in fraud of the community estate.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A third party who is responsible for the breach of a fiduciary duty is also responsible for that fraud.

    Facts.

    Jose Quintana was married to Socorro Quintana when he began an affair with Osuna. During his marriage with Osuna, Jose married Osuna and father three children with her. Jose supported the children he fathered with Osuna, gave Osuna large sums of money, bought Osuna a house and a vehicle. Ten years after marrying Osuna, Jose filed for divorce with Socorro, and the court granted communal property to Socorro as well as $460,000 to be paid either by Osuna or Jose, because Osuna knew about the marriage. Osuna and Jose appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a third party who is responsible for the breach of a fiduciary duty is also responsible for that fraud?

    Held.

    Yes. The trial court’s judgment is modified to reflect only $35,000 in gifts from Jose to Osuna, the remainder of the judgment is affirmed. When Jose gave money to Osuna, Jose was doing so outside of the interest of Socorro. Socorro maintains a right to collect from Osuna if Jose cannot pay the full amount because Osuna continued to accept gifts from Jose, despite knowing that Jose was married.

    Discussion.

    Spouses have a fiduciary duty to handle community property handled by each spouse. A breach of the fiduciary duty is considered fraud. If a husband provides gift to a mistress, then the wife is entitled to reimbursement for the gifts. If the defrauding spouse cannot reimburse the aggrieved spouse, then the aggrieved spouse can seek redress against the third party who received the funds.


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