The DTPA offers a powerful tool for forcing wrongdoers to do the right thing in situations where the amount of money at issue might not otherwise justify the expense of litigation. Unfortunately, every industry has abusive practices that survive only because of a lack of enforcement of the civil laws. The DTPA was designed to address such situations. The DTPA applies to false, misleading and deceptive trade practices in connection with the sale of a good or service. The DTPA requires that a demand letter be sent to the wrongdoer setting forth the wrongful acts and demanding the payment of the resulting damages and attorneys fees. If the wrongdoer fails to pay the demand then the victim may proceed with the filing of a DTPA lawsuit and recover statutory damages. If the judge or jury finds that the Defendant “knowingly” violated the DTPA then the victim may recover three times the economic damages. The victim may also recover mental anguish damages. If the trier of fact finds that the Defendant acted intentionally then the trier of fact may award an amount equal to three times the mental anguish damages. In addition to actual damages and treble damages the victim may also recover costs and attorneys fees. Properly used the DTPA provides an economically feasible method of correcting and deterring small damage abusive practices.
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