Thursday, April 28, 2011
When Is Fraudulent Misrepresentation Actionable in Texas? - Essential Elements of Fraudulent Misrepresentation as a Tort
FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION AS A CAUSE OF ACTION UNDER TEXAS LAW
The elements of a fraudulent misrepresentation claim include proof by the plaintiff that (1) the defendant made a material misrepresentation; (2) the representation was false; (3) the defendant knew the representation was false when made or made it recklessly without any knowledge of the truth and as a positive assertion; (4) the defendant made the representation with the intention that it should be acted upon; (5) the representation was in fact justifiably relied upon; and (6) damage to the plaintiff resulted. See Grant Thornton LLP v. Prospect High Income Fund, 314 S.W.3d 913, 923 (Tex. 2010); see also Ernst & Young, L.L.P. v. Pacific Mut. Life Ins. Co., 51 S.W.3d 573, 575 (Tex. 2001).
Fraudulent inducement of contract
As a general rule, a party is not bound by a contract procured by fraud. Formosa Plastics Corp. USA v. Presidio Eng’rs & Contractors, Inc., 960 S.W.2d 41, 46 (Tex. 1998); see also Schlumberger Tech. Corp. v. Swanson, 959 S.W.2d 171, 179 (Tex. 1997).
Detrimental reliance on false representations
A false representation made indirectly to a third party and later relied on by the defrauded party may constitute fraud under certain circumstances. See BP Am. Prod. Co. v. Marshall, 288 S.W.3d 430, 444–45 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2008, pet. granted) (holding misrepresentations made to one sibling acting as agent for all siblings constituted misrepresentations to all siblings). “[A] person who makes a misrepresentation is liable to the person or class of persons the maker intends or ‘has reason to expect’ will act in reliance upon the misrepresentation.” Ernst & Young, 51 S.W.3d at 578. “Even an obvious risk that a misrepresentation might be repeated to a third party is not enough to satisfy the reason-to-expect standard; rather, the alleged fraudfeasor must ‘have information that would lead a reasonable man to conclude that there is an especial likelihood that it will reach those persons and will influence their conduct.’” Id. at 580 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 531 cmt. d (1977)) (emphasis added).
Deliberate misrepresentation vs. mistake, misunderstanding
Fraud requires proof of an affirmative misrepresentation, not simply a misunderstanding by a party. See Orion Ref. Corp. v. UOP, 259 S.W.3d 749, 771–72 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, pet. denied) (stating misunderstanding and other evidence do not amount to actionable misrepresentations).
SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals 01-10-00104-CV 4/28/11