Misrepresentations – Get Lawyer Help

Lawyers in Weatherford, Mineral Wells, Aledo, Azle, Springtown, Cool, Brock, Millsap, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, and other places in Parker County need to have an understanding of what a “misrepresentation” is in the context of being actionable under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. These misrepresentations also apply in the insurance context.
Many situations are obvious, but what about situations where it is not so obvious? Can a representation be implied?
Here is a case that provides some guidance. It is a 1984, opinion issued by the Dallas Court of Appeals. The style of the case is, Skeet Chambless v. Barry Robinson Farm Supply, Inc., and John Deere Company.
This is an appeal from a directed verdict in favor of Barry Robinson and John Deere wherein they were accused of violations of the the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
Here is some background.
Chambless testified at trial that a clevis which was on a tractor at the time he saw and purchased the tractor was subsequently removed by Robinson prior to delivery of the tractor to Chambless. This fact was undisputed. Chambless testified at trial that he was never told that the clevis was optional equipment or that he would have to pay additional money in order to receive it and no evidence as to any such written representations was ever produced. The clevis was never delivered.
In discussing and ruling on this case in favor of Chambless, the court held that absent any representations (oral or written) to the contrary, by displaying the tractor with the clevis on it, Robinson represented that the clevis would be included in the sale of the tractor. The court held that, by displaying the tractor with the clevis on it at the time of the sale and refusing to deliver the clevis along with the tractor after the sale, Robinson misrepresented to Chambless what particular style or model tractor Chambless would actually be receiving, and that this misrepresentation was a violation of the DTPA. Section 17.46(b)(7) prohibits representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another.
The court said this misrepresentation may not have been intentional but the DTPA does not require intent or knowledge before a violation can be found.
This case is relevant in an insurance context also.
Many times an insurance agent is going to sit down with a potential new client and discuss with the client the needs of the client as those needs relate to insurance. This discussion may take place over several phones calls and emails or it may be one time in the agent’s office.
What is relevant is that at some point the agent is going to recommend and sell a policy to the client. By doing so, the agent is implying that the policy meets the needs that have been discussed.
The next occurrence that happens is that the insured incurs a loss and makes a claim for benefits. When this claim is made, an insurance adjuster informs the insured that the loss is not covered under the policy they have or that the loss is only partially covered.
So what happens?
The insured needs to see an Insurance Law Attorney. If the insured can swear, under oath if necessary, that his needs were discussed with the agent and then upon making a claim, the insured discovers the agent did not sell the insured a policy that covers those needs, then the insured has a claim against the insurance agent for the misrepresentation.
The insured’s argument is (1) they do not understand insurance (2) they could have read the policy word for word and still would not have understood the policy (3) that they relied on the insurance agent’s expertise (4) that after discussing his needs the agent sold the policy at issue (5) that by selling the policy at issue the agent was representing to the insured that the policy was what the insured needed.
The courts have held that even though the representation was not written or oral, it was an implied representation, much like the case above. So when the “implied” representation turns out to not be as represented … it is a misrepresentation.