Deceptive Trade Practices
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) was enacted into law in 1973 to provide a cost effective means for consumers to protect themselves from abuses. It is codified in Chapter 17 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code.
The DTPA protects against false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty in connection with the sale of a good or service. In addition to generally prohibited conduct the Act sets forth a list of specifically prohibited conduct in Section 17.46.Tyler Consumer Protection Lawyer
One of the most valuable features of the DTPA is the special damage provisions. Section 17.50 provides that a consumer may recover actual economic damages. If a Judge or jury finds that the Defendant’s conduct was committed “knowingly” the consumer may recover not only economic damages but also mental anguish damages in addition an additional amount up to three times the economic damages. If the conduct of the Defendant is found to be “intentional” under the DTPA then the consumer may recover economic damages, mental anguish damages, plus additional damages in an amount not to exceed three times the combined total of the economic and mental anguish damages. Prevailing consumers may also recover costs of court and attorneys’ fees.Tyler Business Litigation Attorney
The Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects any “consumer” which includes any individual, partnership, or corporation with assets of less than $25 million or which is owned by an entity with assets less than $25 million. The Act is a potent tool for the protection of both individuals and small businesses.
Most waivers of consumer rights under the DTPA are void as contrary to public policy. Any violation of Texas Insurance Code Chapter 541 automatically qualifies as a violation of the DTPA. Section 17.505 requires that consumers give potential defendants a 60 notice and demand setting forth the details and amounts of the complaint and giving the defendant an opportunity to resolve the matter by payment of actual damages and attorneys’ fees. Section 17.49(c) exempts from the DTPA claims for professional services which primarily involve the rendering of advice, judgment, opinion, or similar professional skill. Most services rendered by attorneys and physicians are exempt from the Act. However, an attorney that acted unconscionable or a doctor that misrepresented a treatment or probable result would nonetheless be liable under the DTPA. Section 17.49(e) exempts traditional personal injury claims from the scope of the Act. However, a deceptive trade practice that results in personal injuries falls within the scope of the Act subject to the damage limitations of the Act. Section 17.49(f) excludes written contracts covering transactions involving more than $100,000 and Section 17.49(g) exempts transactions for more than $500,000. However, these exemptions do not apply to residential real estate transactions.
Good examples of actionable deceptive trade practices are the representation that property was not in the flood plain when in fact the property was in the 100 year flood plain, that a new car had never been wrecked when in fact it had been wrecked requiring substantial repairs, or that an investment had specific features that were not part of the investment.
The Deceptive Trade Practices Act provides a remedy which allows an abused consumer to potentially recover economic damages, mental anguish damages, treble damages, costs, and attorneys fees.
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