Lawyers Needed On Misrepresentation Claims

Weatherford lawyers and those in Mineral Wells, Aledo, Azle, Springtown, Willow Park, Millsap, Brock, Cool, Hudson Oaks, and other places around Parker County need to know the different ways that a misrepresentation can occur.
The Austin Court of Appeals issued an opinion in 1997, that shows one of the ways a misrepresentation can occur. This case is kinda different.
The style of the case is, Apple Imports, Inc. v. Debbie Koole and Pete Resendez. Here is some of the relevant background.
This is an appeal by Apple. A jury found for Koole and Resendez and against Apple for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). This court upheld the judgment against Apple.
On Saturday December 3, 1994, Koole and Resendez visited Apple’s automobile dealership and decided to purchase a used Mazda MX-3. As part of the consideration for the Mazda, they agreed to trade in their Dodge Dynasty. Due to the late hour, they were unable to complete the necessary papers to consummate the transaction before the dealership closed for the day. At an Apple employee’s suggestion, they drove the Mazda home and left their Dodge at Apple, planning to return on Monday to finalize the paperwork for the purchase. Over the weekend, however, they changed their minds about buying the Mazda. When they returned to the dealership on Monday to give back the Mazda and retrieve their Dodge Dynasty, however, they discovered that Apple had already sold the Dodge to a wholesaler in Eagle Pass, Texas, without their authorization and without title to the car. Apple arranged to have the car returned from Eagle Pass on Friday, December 9, 1994. However, they did not pick up the vehicle until July of 1995. When recovered, their Dodge had an additional 800 miles on the odometer and a long scratch on the driver’s side of the car that had not been present in December when they originally took it to the Apple dealership.
A lawsuit was the filed for DTPA violations among other things.
Apple argued that Koole and Resendez did not meet the definition of “consumers” under the DTPA. The court overruled this argument by pointing out that Texas Business & Commerce Code, Section 17.45(4) says to be a consumer requires two elements, (1) the person must seek or acquire goods or services by purchase or lease, and (2) the goods or services sought or acquired must form the basis of the complaint.
Apple argued that the Dodge Dynasty was a collateral service to the purchase of the Mazda and thus not a basis for the lawsuit.
The court said that the determination of consumer status is made by looking at the transaction from the plaintiff’s perspective. From Koole and Resendez’s viewpoint, the only transaction was the purchase of the Mazda MX-3. The trade-in of the Dodge Dynasty was simply a means to make the purchase. The planned trade-in was to form part of the consideration for the purchase of the Mazda and, therefore, was an integral part of the consumer transaction. The complaint arose out of a single transaction — the attempted purchase of the Mazda.
Apple also contended the act of selling the Dodge was merely a mistake and did not constitute or create a misrepresentation. The court disagreed saying, when Apple took possession of the Dodge to determine its “trade-in” value, Apple made an implied representation. Violation of an implied representation has been held to constitute a violation of the DTPA.
Thus, the court said, when Apple took possession of the Dodge for the stated purpose of appraising it for its “trade-in” value, Apple impliedly represented that it would not sell the car until the transaction was completed and there was a clear showing of a valid complete transfer of ownership.
The use of the DTPA in the case by the attorney representing Koole and Resendez resulted in more justice than they would have recovered from other legal recourses. It showed Apple, the DTPA punitive sections are harmful to those businesses not following prudent business practices and can be a costly way of doing business.