The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) is a set of statutes designed to protect consumers against false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable acts and breaches of warranty. If a person or business commits a violation that causes consumer damage, they may be held liable, all thanks to the DTPA.
Early this year, Uber was forced to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit for misleading drivers about how much they could make on the ridesharing service. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which started its investigation in 2015, alleged that drivers in New York were making an average of $61,000 a year—$29,000 less than former CEO Travis Kalanick claimed. Many Uber advertisements for markets across the United States, including Miami and Los Angeles, also exaggerated earning claims.
In short, this was false advertising—one of many deceptive trade practices—and Uber paid the price for it.
Who Is a Consumer Under the Texas DTPA?
Under the DTPA, a “consumer” is defined as an individual, partnership, corporation, or governmental entity who seeks to acquire, by purchase or lease, any goods or services.
A person purchasing a slice of pizza is a consumer as much as a multimillion-dollar company seeking to acquire is, although businesses with assets of $25 million or more are exempt from the Texas DTPA.
Unlawful Acts Under the Texas DTPA
There are three primary categories of prohibited practices under the DTPA:
- Breach of Express or Implied Warranty – An express warranty can be either written or spoken, while an implied warranty is a guarantee that a good or service works as claimed.
- Unconscionable Acts – An unconscionable action can be described as a seller taking advantage of a consumer’s lack of knowledge, ability, experience or capacity to a grossly unfair degree.
False, Misleading or Deceptive Acts – These acts include:
- Passing off someone else’s goods or services as your own
- Selling goods or services for a different price than advertised
- Claiming that goods and services are a certain quality, standard or style when they are not
- Advertising goods as new or original when they are used, deteriorated or second-hand
- Claiming that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, uses, ingredients, benefits or qualities they do not have
- Designating goods or services a certain geographic location they do not have
- Engaging in any other conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding
The FTC regulates, among other things, unfair or deceptive trade practices. In Texas, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) is the state’s primary consumer protection statute, which gives consumers the right to file a lawsuit.
If you are a consumer or individual who has been victimized through a deceptive trade practice, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit.To pursue damages, a consumer must send a certified letter of written notice to the seller. The letter must contain details of the complaint, as well as quantifiable damages. If the seller fails to send back the amount requested in the letter, a suit may be filed.
Two ways a deceptive trade practice claim can be resolved include:
- Compensation: If actual damages are proven, you may be entitled to statutory damages to reimburse you for your losses. In severe cases, the court may require the defendant to pay triple the amount of losses.
- Equitable Relief: An equitable relief prevents a party from performing a particular act, such as claiming their product is a certain price or contains a certain ingredient, or forces them to follow certain measures.
Remedies for consumers include:
- Economic damages
- Noneconomic damages
- Punitive damages
- Attorney fees and court costs
- Revocation of the seller’s license to do business
- The appointment of a receiver
- An injunction
- A restoration order
Note: A consumer can obtain three times the amount of damages if the seller’s conduct is committed knowingly or intentionally.
Contact Deans & Lyons Today!
If you believe you are the victim of a false, misleading, and deceptive business practice, such as fraud, unconscionable act or breach of warranty, contact Deans & Lyons immediately. Our experienced Dallas business litigation attorneys can provide legal guidance to help you collect evidence, draft a certified letter of written notice and collect damages. We understand the complexity of a deceptive trade practice claim and can examine every detail of your case to build a strong legal strategy.Reach out to us today! Call (844) 297-8898 or contact us online .