Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Monday, February 1, 2010

What is a quasi-contract, implied-in-fact contract?


“A contract implied in law, or a quasi-contract, is distinguishable from a true contract because a quasi-contract is a legal fiction, an obligation imposed by law regardless of any actual agreement between the parties.” Fraud-Tech, Inc. v. Choicepoint, Inc., 102 S.W.3d 366, 386 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 2003, pet. ref’d); see Fortune Prod. Co. v. Conoco, Inc., 52 S.W.3d 671, 684 (Tex. 2000).

Underwood Graves v. Logan (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 28 2010)(no express contract or implied duty for creditor to promptly provide pay-off statement for real estate note found; breach of contract claim brought by maker after sale of real estate fell through accordingly fails)

Breach of Contract Elements (Houston Court of Appeals Cites)

BREACH OF CONTRACT: ELEMENTS OF CAUSE OF ACTION IN TEXAS The essential elements in a suit for breach of contract are: (1) the existence of a valid contract; (2) the plaintiff performed or tendered performance; (3) the defendant breached the contract; and (4) the plaintiff was damaged as a result of the breach. Bank of Tex. v. VR Elec., Inc., 276 S.W.3d 671, 677 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2008, pet. denied); Prime Prods., Inc. v. S.S.I. Plastics, Inc., 97 S.W.3d 631, 636 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2002, pet. denied). “ DEFINITION OF BREACH OF CONTRACT, CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION A breach of contract occurs when a party fails to perform an act that it has expressly or impliedly promised to perform.” Case Corp. v. Hi-Class Bus. Sys. of Am., Inc., 184 S.W.3d 760, 769–70 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2005, pet. denied). SOURCE: Underwood Graves vs. Logan , No. 01-08-00359-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 28 2010) (real estate transactions, creditor's failure to promptly provide pay-off amount for real estate loan not actionable; no contractual obligation to do so shown; no implied contractual duty)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meeting of the Minds Element in Contract Formation

ELEMENTS OF ORAL AND WRITTEN CONTRACT The elements of written and oral contracts are the same and must be present for a contract to be binding. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Lopez, 93 S.W.3d 548, 555 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, no pet.). A binding contract must have an offer and an acceptance; the acceptance must be in strict compliance with the terms of the offer. Advantage Physical Therapy, Inc. v. Cruse, 165 S.W.3d 21, 25 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, no pet.). ASSENT / ACCEPTANCE ELEMENT: MORE THAN MERE ACQUIESCENCE REQUIRED Generally, acceptance of an offer must be communicated to the offeror for a contract to be binding. Id. at 26. Thus, silence does not ordinarily indicate acceptance of an offer. See id. (citing Restatement (Second) of Contracts § 69(1) cmt. a (1981)); see also Tex. Ass’n of Counties County Gov’t Risk Mgmt. Pool v. Matagorda County, 52 S.W.3d 128, 132 (Tex. 2000) (noting that “as a general rule, ‘silence and inaction will not be construed as an assent to an offer’” (quoting 2 Williston on Contracts § 6:49 (4th ed. 1991))). SOURCE: The Levin Law Group, PC v. Sigmon (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Jan. 21, 2010) (Defendant conclusively established that he did not accept the terms of the mediation specified in the letters faxed by Plaintiff, the mediation rules form, or the mediation agreement form—an essential element of plaintiff's claim alleging breach of agreement to mediate)

Monday, January 18, 2010

DTPA Claim: Plaintiff Must Be A Consumer for Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act to Apply

DTPA ELEMENT: Consumer Status of Complainant 
Consumer status is an essential element of a DTPA claim. Rivera v. S. Green Ltd. P’ship, 208 S.W.3d 12, 21 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2006, pet. denied) (citing Doe v. Boys Clubs of Greater Dallas, Inc., 907 S.W.2d 472, 478 (Tex. 1995)).
A consumer is an individual who seeks or acquires goods or services by purchase or lease. Id.; Tex. Bus. & Com. Code Ann. § 17.45(4) (Vernon Supp. 2009) (“‘Consumer’ means an individual, partnership, corporation, this state, or a subdivision or agency of this state who seeks or acquires by purchase or lease, any goods or services, except that the term does not include a business consumer that has assets of $25 million or more, or that is owned or controlled by a corporation or entity with assets of $25 million or more.”).
Whether a plaintiff is a consumer under the DTPA is a question of law for the court to decide. Rivera, 208 S.W.3d at 21.
SOURCE: Cash Rent-A-Car v. Old American County Mutual Fire Ins. Co. No. 01-09-00021-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 14, 2009)



Fraud and Negligent Misrepresentation Cause of Action in Texas


In order to prove fraud, a party must show that (1) a material representation was made; (2) the representation was false; (3) when the representation was made, the speaker knew it was false or made it recklessly without any knowledge of the truth and as a positive assertion; (4) the speaker made the representation with the intent that the other party should act upon it; (5) the party acted in reliance on the representation; and (6) the party thereby suffered injury. In re FirstMerit Bank, N.A., 52 S.W.3d 749, 758 (Tex. 2001). Fraud by nondisclosure is a subcategory of fraud. See Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Swanson, 959 S.W.2d 171, 181 (Tex. 1997).

In order to prove negligent misrepresentation, a plaintiff must show that (1) the defendant made a representation in the course of its business, or in a transaction in which it has a pecuniary interest, (2) the defendant supplied “false information” for the guidance of others in their business, (3) the defendant did not exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information, and (4) the plaintiff suffered a pecuniary loss by justifiably relying on the representation. Henry Schein, Inc. v. Stromboe, 102 S.W.3d 675, 686 n. 24 (Tex. 2002) (citing Fed. Land Bank Ass’n v. Sloane, 825 S.W.2d 439, 442 (Tex. 1991)). 
SOURCE: Cash Rent-A-Car v. Old American County Mutual Fire Ins. Co. (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 14, 2009) (Jennings)(conversion, trespass, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract and bailment agreement, violations of the Texas Theft Liability Act, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”), and the Texas Insurance Code)

Conversion, Civil Theft Claim, and Trespass


The elements of a conversion claim are (1) the plaintiff owned or had possession of the property or entitlement to possession; (2) the defendant unlawfully and without authorization assumed and exercised control over the property to the exclusion of, or inconsistent with, the plaintiff’s rights as an owner; (3) the plaintiff demanded return of the property; and (4) the defendant refused to return the property. Khorshid, Inc. v. Christian, 257 S.W.3d 748, 758–59 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2008, no pet.).

Statutory Cause of Action under Texas Theft Liability Act (alt. to conversion)

Under the Theft Liability Act, a person who commits theft by unlawfully appropriating property with intent to deprive the owner of property is liable for the resulting damages. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. §§ 134.002(2), 134.003(a) (Vernon 2005); Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 31.03(a) (Vernon Supp. 2009). Appropriation of property is unlawful if it is without the owner’s effective consent. Id. § 31.03(b)(1).

Common-law Trespass Claim

“Trespass to personalty is an injury to, or interference with, possession of the property, unlawfully, with or without the exercise of physical force.” Russell v. Am. Real Estate Corp., 89 S.W.3d 204, 210 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2002, no pet.) (citing Jamison v. Nat’l Loan Investors, L.P., 4 S.W.3d 465, 469 n.2 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. denied)). Destruction of, or injury to, personal property, regardless of negligence, may be a trespass. Id.

SOURCE: Cash Rent-A-Car v. Old American County Mutual Fire Ins. Co. No. 01-09-00021-CV (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Jan. 14, 2009)