Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Rules relating to deceptive trade practices in the State of Texas are dealt with in Texas Business and Commerce Code under Title 2 (Competition and Trade Practices), Chapter 17 (Deceptive Trade Practices), Subchapter E (Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection), Section 17.41 et seq. According to Section 17.46, it is unlawful for any person to advertise goods or services with intent not to sell them.  Under Section 17.47, if the consumer protection division believes that any person is engaged in an unlawful act, the division can bring an action in the name of the state against such persons.  The Texas Attorney General has standing to bring a deceptive trade practice action pursuant to Section 17.47(a) against a merchant who allegedly makes numerous unauthorized charges on customers’ credit and debit cards.

Under Section 17.48, a district or county attorney may, with prior notice to the consumer protection division, bring an action seeking injunctive relief against any violator.  Pursuant to Section 17.50, if it is found that the conduct of the violator was willful, the aggrieved consumer may recover damages for mental anguish and may also be entitled to get up to three times the amount of economic damages in addition to actual damages.  Moreover, if the court finds that an action brought under this Section was groundless, both in fact and law, or brought for the purpose of harassment, then the court shall award to the Defendant reasonable attorneys fees and court costs.

According to Section 17.47, the consumer protection division, upon belief that any person is engaged in an unlawful act, can bring an action against that person to restrain such act by temporary restraining order, temporary order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction.  In addition to the request for a temporary order or permanent injunction, the Court may also award a civil penalty to be paid to the state in an amount not exceeding $20,000.  The court may also order an additional amount of not more than $2,50,0000, if a consumer is 65 years of age or older when the act or practice occurred.

Pursuant to Section 17.46 (16), disconnecting, turning back, or resetting the odometer of any motor vehicle so as to reduce the number of miles indicated on the odometer gauge is unlawful and at the same time a deceptive trade practice or act.

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.46

Deceptive Trade Practices Unlawful
(a) False, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful and are subject to action by the consumer protection division under Sections 17.47, 17.58, 17.60, and 17.61 of this code.
(b) Except as provided in Subsection (d) of this section, the term “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices” includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
***
(9) advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as
advertised;
(10) advertising goods or services with intent not to supply a
reasonable expectable public demand, unless the advertisements
disclosed a limitation of quantity;
***

(16) disconnecting, turning back, or resetting the odometer of any
motor vehicle so as to reduce the number of miles indicated on the
odometer gauge.

****

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.47

Restraining Orders
(a) Whenever the consumer protection division has reason to believe that any person is engaging in, has engaged in, or is about to engage in any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this subchapter, and that proceedings would be in the public interest, the division may bring an action in the name of the state against the person to restrain by temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or permanent injunction the use of such method, act, or practice.
****

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.48

Duty of District and County Attorney
(a) It is the duty of the district and county attorneys to lend to the consumer protection division any assistance requested in the commencement and prosecutions of action under this subchapter.
(b) A district or county attorney, with prior written notice to the consumer protection division, may institute and prosecute actions seeking injunctive relief under this subchapter, after complying with the prior contact provisions of Subsection (a) of Section 17.47 of this subchapter. On request, the consumer protection division shall assist the district or county attorney in any action taken under this subchapter. If an action is prosecuted by a district or county attorney alone, he shall make a full report to the consumer protection division including the final disposition of the matter. No district or county attorney may bring an action under this section against any licensed insurer or licensed insurance agent transacting business under the authority and jurisdiction of the State Board of Insurance unless first requested in writing to do so by the State Board of Insurance, the commissioner of insurance, or the consumer protection division pursuant to a request by the State Board of Insurance or commissioner of insurance.

Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 17.50

Relief for Consumers
(a) A consumer may maintain an action where any of the following constitute a producing cause of economic damages or damages for mental anguish:
(1) the use or employment by any person of a false, misleading, or
deceptive act or practice that is:
(A) specifically enumerated in a subdivision of Subsection (b) of
Section 17.46 of this subchapter; and
(B) relied on by a consumer to the consumer’s detriment;
(2) breach of an express or implied warranty;
(3) any unconscionable action or course of action by any person; or
(4) the use or employment by any person of an act or practice in
violation of Chapter 541, Insurance Code.
(b) In a suit filed under this section, each consumer who prevails may obtain:
(1) the amount of economic damages found by the trier of fact. If the
trier of fact finds that the conduct of the defendant was committed
knowingly, the consumer may also recover damages for mental anguish, as
found by the trier of fact, and the trier of fact may award not more
than three times the amount of economic damages; or if the trier of
fact finds the conduct was committed intentionally, the consumer may
recover damages for mental anguish, as found by the trier of fact, and
the trier of fact may award not more than three times the amount of
damages for mental anguish and economic damages;
(2) an order enjoining such acts or failure to act;
(3) orders necessary to restore to any party to the suit any money or
property, real or personal, which may have been acquired in violation
of this subchapter; and
(4) any other relief which the court deems proper, including the
appointment of a receiver or the revocation of a license or certificate
authorizing a person to engage in business in this state if the
judgment has not been satisfied within three months of the date of the
final judgment. The court may not revoke or suspend a license to do
business in this state or appoint a receiver to take over the affairs
of a person who has failed to satisfy a judgment if the person is a
licensee of or regulated by a state agency which has statutory
authority to revoke or suspend a license or to appoint a receiver or
trustee. Costs and fees of such receivership or other relief shall be
assessed against the defendant.
(c) On a finding by the court that an action under this section was groundless in fact or law or brought in bad faith, or brought for the purpose of harassment, the court shall award to the defendant reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees and court costs.
(d) Each consumer who prevails shall be awarded court costs and reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees.
(e) In computing additional damages under Subsection (b), attorneys’ fees, costs, and prejudgment interest may not be considered.
(f) A court may not award prejudgment interest applicable to:
(1) damages for future loss under this subchapter; or
(2) additional damages under Subsection (b).
(g) Chapter 41, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, does not apply to a cause of action brought under this subchapter.
(h) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, if a claimant is granted the right to bring a cause of action under this subchapter by another law, the claimant is not limited to recovery of economic damages only, but may recover any actual damages incurred by the claimant, without regard to whether the conduct of the defendant was committed intentionally. For the purpose of the recovery of damages for a cause of action described by this subsection only, a reference in this subchapter to economic damages means actual damages. In applying Subsection (b)(1) to an award of damages under this subsection, the trier of fact is authorized to award a total of not more than three times actual damages, in accordance with that subsection.


Inside Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Laws