Common Law & Statutory Fraud Attorney
Texas had the 5th highest incidence of fraud per capita in 2018. Chances are, either you or a loved one have been the victim of fraud and may not have realized there are remedies available. Fraudulently inducing a consumer into a transaction is against the law, and if you have been a victim, your best option is to hire an experienced lawyer to make you whole again.
The term “fraud” encompasses the underhanded means businesses sometimes use to trick hardworking people and take their money. Texas law provides causes of action for common law fraud and statutory fraud. These laws are similar, but have a few distinctions. In sum, if someone lied or concealed the truth to entice you to enter a transaction and you suffered a loss because of it, you may have a fraud case. If you think someone has committed fraud against you, call the Law Office of Richard Schechter today for a free consultation.
Texas Common Law Fraud
There are two types of fraud claims in Texas: common-law fraud and statutory fraud. To win a common law fraud case, a consumer must prove the defendant knowingly or recklessly made a material false representation, intending for the consumer to rely on that representation, enticing them into the transaction. If the consumer actually relied on the representation and suffered a loss because of it, the defendant committed fraud.
Defendant made a false representation to the plaintiff. False representations come in many forms:
- False statements of fact. A false statement of fact is just what it sounds like: an affirmative statement of fact the defendant knows to be untrue when the statement is made. If, for example, you take your car to a mechanic who tells you “it’s completely fixed” when he knows he didn’t perform the entire work order, he has made a false statement of fact.
- False statements of opinion. While opinions are typically not binding, under some circumstances they can be so misleading that they create a false representation for fraud purposes. Sometimes the defendant will claim to have special knowledge about facts that the consumer doesn’t have access to, expecting the consumer to rely on those “facts”. For example, an insurance adjuster giving a low-ball opinion about the value of your claim to induce you to settle your claim could be a false statement of opinion.
- False promises of future performance. This occurs where the defendant makes the promise with no intention of ever performing. The plaintiff will have to show that the defendant did not intend to perform the promise at the time the promise was made. If a raffle contest sold tickets but never had title to the prize, the consumer could show false promise.
- False representations by conduct. False representation by conduct can be shown by actions the defendant took to conceal the truth. For example, rolling back the odometer on a used car would create a false representation by conduct.
- The representation was material to the transaction. A representation is material if a reasonable person would be persuaded by the information when entering a transaction. The false representation does not have to be the consumer’s only motivation for entering the transaction, but the consumer must rely on the representation when deciding to seal the deal.
- Defendant knowingly or recklessly made the false representation. A statement is reckless when made as a positive assertion of fact with no actual knowledge of its truth.
- Defendant intended for plaintiff to act on the representation. The plaintiff must show the defendant expected them to rely on the misrepresentation in deciding to enter the transaction.
- Plaintiff relied on the representation. The plaintiff has to show actual and justifiable reliance. If there are indications that the statement is false, a consumer must use due diligence to uncover the truth.
- Plaintiff sustained damages as a result of relying on the statement. The harm suffered usually occurs in the form of pecuniary loss, but can also include consequential losses like mental anguish.
There is no shortage of cunning in Texas businesses. If you have been the victim of fraudulent misrepresentation, the statute of limitations for filing a claim is 4 years. Don’t let the limitations period expire before seeking help. Call the Law Office of Richard Schechter today for a confidential case evaluation.
Statutory Fraud In Real Estate Or Stock Transactions
A claim for statutory fraud is based on Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 27.01. Statutory fraud is much like common law fraud, except the plaintiff does not have to establish the defendant’s actual awareness of the falsity… Further, statutory fraud must involve either a real estate or stock transaction. The property does not have to actually be transferred for the consumer to have a valid fraud case, as long as there was a contract to convey the property. Statutory fraud occurs when there is a false representation of a past or existing material fact, the representation is made for the purpose of inducing you to enter into a contract, and you enter into the contract relying on the representation.
What are the remedies for fraud?
- Out-of-pocket damages. If you can prove you have been defrauded, you can recover out of pocket damages for the difference between what you paid and the value of what you received.
- The benefit of the bargain damages. You could alternatively be awarded benefit of the bargain damages, which are the difference between the value as represented and the value actually received.
- Personal property damages. If you purchased property as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation, you can get personal property damages in the amount required to repair the property to its promised value.
- Mental anguish damages. When the defendant’s conduct is especially deplorable, mental anguish damages are available.
- Exemplary damages. When the plaintiff proves fraudulent conduct with clear and convincing evidence, exemplary damages might be awarded to deter defendant’s dishonest conduct in the future.
- Court costs.
- Attorney’s fees. Attorney’s fees are only available in statutory fraud cases.
- Other types of damages. Depending on the particular facts of your case, you may also be able to recover other types of damages, including expenses you incurred to fix the misrepresentation, loss of use, damage to your credit, lost profits and other incidental damages.
Unscrupulous business practices occur every day, and schemes to defraud consumers will only be stopped by people brave enough to stand up to dishonest businesses. Our legal team has the training and expertise to get you the recovery you deserve. If you think you have been defrauded by a tricky businessperson, call the Law Office of Richard Schechter today for a free and confidential case evaluation.
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