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What is a Deceptive Trade Practice in Texas?

- Bradford T. Laney, Texas Litigation Attorney

 

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act:

In short, a Deceptive Trade Practice is when someone rips off a consumer, which may entitle him or her to recover damages for their loss.  

In long, what is a Deceptive Trade Practice is defined in Texas Business and Commerce Code Chapter 17, which is referred to as the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA” for short).  The DTPA was enacted to protect consumers from false, misleading, or deceptive business practices. The DTPA also covers unconscionable acts committed against a consumer, as well as breaches of express or implied warranties. 

You May be Entitled to Recover Damages:

The most common cause of action under the DTPA comes from what is referred to as the “laundry list” of wrong acts.  To win a case under the DTPA for a laundry list violation, you will need to be able to prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence (51%):

  1. You are a consumer;
  2. The Defendant is someone that can be sued under the DTPA;
  3. The Defendant committed one of the deceptive acts listed in the DTPA’s laundry list of prohibited types of conduct (Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.46(b) – https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/SOTWDocs/BC/htm/BC.17.htm); and
  4. The Defendant’s deceptive acts caused you to suffer damage or injury.

If you can prove the four elements above, then it’s time to consider hiring an experienced attorney to recover your losses.  The types of damages you may be able to recover include out-of-pocket damages, benefit-of-the bargain damages, lost profits, settlement expenses, costs of mitigation, lost time, mental anguish, costs of court, and your attorneys’ fees.  You may also be entitled to triple your economic and mental anguish damages under Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.50(b)(1). 

Pitfalls in DTPA Cases:

You’ll want to make sure that you file your case within two years of the date of the deceptive practice, because this cause of action has a two year statute of limitations.  You will lose your rights if you sit on them past the two year mark.  

You’ll also want to meet with a lawyer to make sure you have a legitimate claim before filing one. If you file a frivolous claim that is not supported by the statute, you could end up having to pay the Defendant’s
attorneys’ fees.

You also want to give the Defendant at least sixty days written notice of your complaint and your intent to file a DTPA claim against him or her.

Brad is a commercial litigation attorney, who has successfully litigated Deceptive Trade Practices Act claims in Texas state and federal courts. If you need help figuring out if you have a claim or if you need to defend yourself against someone that has sued you, please do not hesitate to give Brad a call or email (713-297-1200, blaney@raleybowick.com).

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