Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act was created to protect consumers from any false, misleading, and deceptive business practices. Anyone who seeks to purchase any goods or services can be protected by this act. A DTPA case can be brought in a construction or real estate dispute if the facts fit. The elements of a cause of action for violation of the DTPA are: (1) the plaintiffs are consumers; (2) the defendants can be sued under the DTPA; (3) the defendants committed one or more of the following wrongful acts: (a) a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice that is specifically enumerated in the “laundry list” found in Section 17.46 (b) of the Texas Business & Commerce Code; and that was relied on by the plaintiffs to the plaintiffs’ detriment; (c) breach of an express or implied warranty; (d) any unconscionable action or course of action; (e) the use or employment of an act or practice in violation of Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code; or (f) a violation of one of the “tie-in” consumer statutes as authorized by Section 17.50(h) of the Texas Business & Commerce Code; and (4) the defendants’ action was a producing cause of the plaintiffs’ damages. See Tex. Bus. & Com. Code §§ 17.41-17.63; Amstadt v. U.S. Brass Corp., 919 S.W.2d 644, 649 (Tex. 1996).
Consumers are defined in Section 17.42 of the Texas Business & Commerce Code. It explains that when the plaintiffs seek and acquire services by purchase and the transaction gives rise to the plaintiffs’ claims. The defendants can be sued under the DTPA when the defendants are not a protected class under the DTPA and when the defendants use or employ false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in connection with the plaintiffs’ transaction in purchasing the defendants’ goods and/or services. Courts look to determine whether the defendants engaged in false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of its trade or commerce with the plaintiffs, and if they were the producing cause of the plaintiffs’ damages.
Here is an example of a potential DTPA violation:
Sue and Company agreed to the terms of a construction contract for the project, which provided the project’s scope of work as detailed in the list of specifications. During the course of company’s work on the project, it failed to comply with its contractual obligations when it damaged the structural integrity of Sue’s home and caused other damages as specifically detailed below. Later, company provided Sue with a revised builder’s estimate based upon plaintiffs’ changes.
During the pre-contract negotiations, Company made numerous misrepresentations regarding its credentials, the quality of its work, quality of materials the likely benefits of its work, the warranties provided for company’s work, and Company’s repeated guarantees of customer satisfaction. In reliance on company’s representations regarding the project, Sue decided to contract with Company to perform the work necessary to complete the project.
Sue and Company agreed to the terms of a construction contract for the project, which provided the project’s scope of work as detailed in the list of specifications. During the course of Company’s work on the project, it failed to comply with its contractual obligations when it damaged the structural integrity of Sues’ Home and cause other damages. Sue later finds out that the construction company lied about its credentials, the quality of the work to be performed, the quality of the materials, the warranties and other guarantees. Sue finds out that the plumbers and electricians were not licensed even though represented to be licensed by the builder. As a result, Sue would be entitled to bring a DTPA case.
The Weaver Law Firm has handled many types of construction and real estate disputes and will be able to provide you with representation and guidance. A real estate and business attorney is here to help. If you find yourself misled into a difficult situation do not hesitate to contact us at The Weaver Law Firm, 713-513-556.