Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fraud and Fraud by Nondisclosure

In order to recover on an action for fraud, a party must prove that: (1) a material representation was made; (2) the representation was false; (3) when the speaker made the representation, he knew it was false or made it recklessly without knowledge of the truth as a positive assertion; (4) the speaker made it with the intention that it should be acted upon by the party; (5) the party acted in reliance upon it; and (6) the party thereby suffered injury. Soluntioneers Consulting, Ltd. v. Gulf Greyhound Partners, Ltd., 237 S.W.3d 379, 385 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, no pet.).

Fraud by nondisclosure is a subcategory of fraud. Id. Failure to disclose information is actionable only when there is a duty to disclose. Id. The duty to disclose may arise: (1) when the parties have a confidential or fiduciary relationship; (2) when one party voluntarily discloses information; (3) when one party makes a representation which gives rise to the duty to disclose new information that the party is aware makes the earlier representation misleading or untrue; or (4) when one party makes a partial disclosure and conveys a false impression, which gives rise to the duty to speak. Id. Whether such a duty exists is a question of law. Bradford v. Vento, 48 S.W.3d 749, 755 (Tex. 2001).

In regard to Lombana's assertion that she had a "special relationship" with AIG that required disclosure of any additional requirements for reinstatement of the Policy, we note that an informal fiduciary relationship, which may arise from "a moral, social, domestic or purely personal relationship of trust and confidence," is generally called a "confidential relationship." Associated Indem. Corp. v. CAT Contracting, Inc., 964 S.W.2d 276, 287 (Tex. 1998). A confidential relationship exists in cases in which "`influence has been acquired and abused, in which confidence has been reposed and betrayed.'" Id. (quoting Crim Truck & Tractor Co. v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 823 S.W.2d 591, 594 (Tex. 1992)). However, an insurer generally does not have a fiduciary relationship giving rise to a duty to an insured. See Rice v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 324 S.W.3d 660, 678-79 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2010, no pet.). Here, Lombana has presented no evidence that she had a confidential or fiduciary relationship with AIG.

Likewise, Lombana presented no evidence that the AIG call representative made a material misrepresentation during the January 22, 2009 telephone conversation with her with knowledge of its falsity, or that the AIG call representative made a misrepresentation with the intent that Lombana rely on it.

Accordingly, we hold that the trial court did not err in granting AIG summary judgment on Lombana's claim for fraud and fraudulent nondisclosure.

SOURCE: HOUSTON COURT OF APPEALS - No. 01-12-00168-CV. - 2/27/2014

In her eleventh issue, Lombana argues that the trial court erred in granting AIG summary judgment on her claim that AIG committed fraud or fraud by nondisclosure because she presented evidence that AIG had "voluntarily disclosed" some information about reinstatement of the Policy to her, but failed to disclose additional requirements. She asserts that the parties had a "special relationship," requiring disclosure of "any additional requirements [AIG] would impose to reinstate" the Policy, and AIG had a duty to disclose "the whole truth concerning what it would require to reinstate the Policy." In its summary-judgment motion, AIG argued that Lombana's claim for fraud and fraud by nondisclosure failed as a matter of law due to a lack of justiciable reliance and because she provided no evidence of a material misrepresentation, made with knowledge of its falsity or without knowledge of the truth upon which AIG intended that she rely.

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