What is a “deceptive trade practice” to an Austin consumer fraud attorney? The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), Texas Business and Commerce Code Title 2 Chapter 17 Subchapter E Section 17.41 et sequitur, declares unlawful all “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or practice” and at Section 17.46 describes numerous examples of the offense. The DTPA applies to every consumer in the State of Texas except those who have assets in the tens of millions.
The DTPA applies to all appliances, bread, cars, homes, commercial properties, hats, household electronics, household goods, plants, rodeo tickets, carpet cleaning services, construction services, employment services, pest control services, vacation services, and anything else purchased or leased. The DTPA applies to all, and the list of applications is infinite, any good or service conceivable except money and financial services.
What can the DTPA do for consumers? It can recover all economic damages from deceptive trade practices, economic damages like:
In addition to economic damages, the DTPA can recover consumer attorneys’ fees. This recovery is the true power of the DTPA an ordinary common law claim can recover economic damages but not attorneys’ fees, which come out of (and even may exceed) the recovery. Under the DTPA recovery of attorneys’ fees is separate from the recovery of economic damages. This DTPA feature encourages Austin consumer fraud lawyers to help consumers in cases where the claims otherwise might be too small to be worthwhile.
Defendants who violation the Texas DTPA “knowingly” may be liable for additional damages. The law caps these essentially punitive or exemplary awards at twice the amount of economic damages. As an example, if a court awards $10,000 in actual economic damages, the most the consumer plaintiff could recover would be $30,000 or $10,000 plus up to twice the actual damages (2 x $10,000 = $20,000) for a total of $30,000. If the court awards only another $5,000 in additional damages, the consumer would recovers the $10,000 in actual or economic damages and $5,000 in additional damages of for a total of $15,000. The actual or economic damages are not automatically doubled.
For answers to additional questions about the Texas DTPA or for a free consultation on whether a case is eligible for recovery of damages under the law, please contact an Austin consumer fraud attorney from Nunis & Associates at (512) 236-9696.