Monday, January 25, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
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)).
CONSUMER DEFINED FOR PURPOSES OF DTPA CLAIM
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)
IS A BORROWER A CONSUMER UNDER THE DTPA DEFINITION? - IT DEPENDS
PROVING A CAUSE OF ACTION FOR COMMON-LAW FRAUD AND NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION - WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS UNDER TEXAS LAW?
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)
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)