TEXAS DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES ACT

INSURANCE & CONTRACT CLAIMS

Texas DTPA Lawyers

DTPA

A deceptive trade practice is an activity that an individual or business engages in, designed to mislead or lure the public into purchasing a product or service. Activities are given special status as offenses against the public, in general, and are therefore accorded by law special enforcement status. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) is one of the most important and influential forms of consumer protection in our state. Unfortunately, even with such protection in place, some businesses still engage in false, misleading, or deceptive acts.

When this happens, consumers have a right to file a DTPA claim for these unconscionable actions. At Reich & Binstock, we protect consumers from false or misleading statements or actions that a business entity may have used to trick consumers. If you decide to file suit, we will be here to back you up against any deceptive act that you encounter. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call 713-622-7271 today.

What is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act?

The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act or DTPA is one of the most important consumer statutes. This statute developed out of the Texas legislature, recognizing that consumers need to be protected from fraudulent business practices. The law encourages victims of dishonest companies to file lawsuits which serve to incentivize businesses to act fairly and honestly. Specifically, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act aims to protect consumers from misleading or deceptive acts such as the following.

  • Engaging in a real estate transaction without disclosing issues with the property
  • Car dealers fraudulently representing a vehicle as one in better condition
  • A repair service lying about the need for repairs or replacement parts
  • Knowingly making false statements about a consumer’s rights in a contract
  • Failing to honor an express or implied warranty
  • Using fake business reviews, failing to disclose paid endorsements, or suppressing negative reviews
  • Charging an exorbitant or excessive price in a consumer transaction

While these are some of the most common instances of deceptive trade practices, it is not possible for one law to outline the full range of possibilities. However, the DTPA helps to protect Texas consumers with a catch-all element. Any “unconscionable actions” are unlawful and subject to a DTPA lawsuit. Unconscionable actions are those which involve taking advantage of the “lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity to a grossly unfair degree.”

What Does the DTPA Do?

texas deceptive trade practices act

The primary goal of the DTPA is to protect consumers against false, misleading, or deceptive business practices. It applies to a broad range of transactions, including the sale of goods (both new and used) and services. In this context, “goods” also include real property such as homes. 

One of the interesting aspects of the DTPA is its purposefully broad wording. This allows it to apply to a number of different situations that the act itself may not explicitly cover. It bans certain deceptive business practices, such as the following.

If a business offers a false or misleading representation of its goods or services that it cannot provide, this is a breach of warranty. Breaches of warranty are not limited to a written notice only. They can also include spoken promises made about a product or service.

These are misleading or deceptive acts that lead to a one-sided transaction. Basically, when a business entity uses deceptive acts and takes advantage of a consumer’s lack of knowledge, this is an unconscionable act.

This category includes many different deceptive business practices. One example is a mislabeled product. Maybe the product’s label states that it is made of or contains ingredients that it does not contain. 

What are the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act Elements?

In order to sue under the DTPA, several elements must be met. The elements of a DTPA action include that the plaintiff must be a consumer, the defendant must have committed one of the proscribed acts under the DTPA, and the defendant’s actions must have been the producing cause of the plaintiff’s harm.

In layman’s terms, what this means is that the person suing must have either purchased or leased a good or service and the defendant must have engaged in some sort of false, misleading or deceptive business practices in relation to that good or service.

Texas DTPA Consumer Definition

deceptive trade practices act

Under the Texas DTPA, a consumer is defined as someone who seeks out or acquires by purchasing or leasing any goods or services. 

A consumer can be any individual, corporation, partnership, or government entity. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to be a “person” to be a consumer. There are several types of consumers, such as a business consumer. 

Additionally, you don’t even have to buy something to be a consumer. You could qualify as a consumer if you intend to lease or purchase an item or if you follow through with leasing or purchasing. 

What are Texas DTPA Laundry List Violations?

Some of the most common laundry list violations include:

  1. Representing that goods or services have characteristics that they do not;
  2. Claiming that goods or services are of a particular quality which they are not;
  3. Representing that an agreement confers or involves legal rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law; and
  4. Failing to disclose information concerning goods or services which was known at the time of the transaction if such failure to disclose such information was intended to induce the consumer into a transaction into which the consumer would not have entered had the information been disclosed.

Which Entity Enforces the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) Rules?

The Texas DTPA provides remedies for both public and private violations. The Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s Office enforces the public remedies. In fact, the DTPA is the main tool that the Office uses to protect consumers in Texas. 

What Forms Do You Need to File a DTPA in Texas?

The DTPA does not allow consumers to sue as soon as they know there’s a problem. When you are ready to file a DTPA lawsuit in Texas, you can’t go straight to the courthouse to file your claim. The Deceptive Trade Practices Act requires that you give written notice of your problem to the business at least 60 days before you can file the suit in court. 

Who Can Sue Under Texas DTPA?

texas dtpa

In order to sue under the DTPA, you must be considered a consumer. This is defined as any individual, partner, corporation, or government entity that seeks to acquire by purchase or lease of goods or services. 

What Must a Consumer Provide in a DTPA Lawsuit?

A DTPA consumer must prove that the representations were a producing cause of his or her injuries. The DPTA defendant’s actions must also be in connection with the transaction.

To learn more about what qualifies as a “Consumer” under the DTPA, click here: The DTPA: What does it mean to be a “Consumer?”

What is the Deceptive Trade Practices Act Statute of Limitations?

A Deceptive Trade Practices Act lawsuit must generally be filed within two years after the date on which the misleading or deceptive act or practice occurred.

DTPA Illegal Actions

deceptive trade practices

The proscribed actions under the DTPA include any of the following:

  1. A “laundry list” violation;
  2. Breach of an expressed or implied warranty;
  3. An unconscionable action; or
  4. Violations of the Texas Insurance Code.

DTPA Attorneys in Houston

At Reich & Binstock in Houston, our knowledgeable lawyers can help you understand the specific requirements stipulated by the DTPA. If you believe you may have a DTPA case, contact our lawyers for a free and confidential case evaluation. We will file a DTPA lawsuit on your behalf and investigate each consumer’s claim thoroughly before proceeding.

When Texas business entities, real estate brokers, a pyramid promotional scheme, or even a repair service engage in misleading or deceptive acts, this directly harms consumers. As one of those consumers, you deserve to have your voice heard. Call 713-622-7271 or 800-622-7271 toll-free or complete our confidential online form.

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