It feels deeply unfair when someone breaches a contract or deceives you related to their business. You upheld your end of the bargain and trusted them to do the same. But they threw your goodwill back in your face.
If you have experienced a breach of contract or were tricked by deceptive business practices, contact The Curley Law Firm. We have years of experience negotiating contracts and fighting for a remedy when contracts are breached. Our founder, Adam Curley, has represented individuals and businesses large and small throughout his time practicing law.
What Is a Contract?
Virtually everyone will form a contract at some point in their life. While you may know how contracts work generally, you might not be familiar with the legal terminology we use to describe them.
A valid contract must have several elements:
- Offer—one of the parties offers a promise to do something or not do something;
- Acceptance—the other party communicated that they accept the proposed offer and consideration;
- Consideration—in exchange, another party promises to provide something of value; and
- Legal purpose—the subject matter of the contract is legal.
One of the simplest forms of contract is a sale. For example, Party One places shoes for sale, and Party Two buys the shoes. The sale is the offer. The payment is consideration for the shoes. By purchasing the shoes for a mutually agreed-upon price, Party Two accepts the offer.
How Do You Breach a Contract?
The elements of breach of contract include:
- There was a valid contract;
- You performed your end of the contract;
- The other party failed to perform their end of the contract; and
- The other party’s failure to perform caused you damages.
Generally, to collect damages, you must prove that you meet all four breach of contract elements and that the breach was material. A material breach of contract occurs when the contract’s essential terms are not performed. In essence, materiality represents the purpose of the contract. If you hire someone to build you a horse barn and they make you a tool shed, the builder materially breached the contract.
Or if you order a pair of shoes online and receive a different pair, there is a material breach. However, if you order a pair of shoes that arrive a few days late, there is likely no material breach. You still received the shoes, meaning the seller still performed the contract.
What Is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act?
The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) is designed to protect consumers from deceptive and fraudulent business practices. The Texas DTPA overlaps with breach of contract claims and applies to individuals and businesses.
The Texas DTPA makes engaging in “false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices” while conducting a trade or business illegal. Broadly, the law forbids misrepresentations related to goods or services:
- Condition, and
The Texas DTPA also prohibits misrepresenting:
- The reason for price reductions;
- The rights, obligations, and remedies in an agreement;
- The availability and coverage of a warranty or guaranty;
- A business’ structure; and
- Non-government entities as associated with the government.
It further outlaws pyramid schemes, unconscionable conduct, and insurance code violations.
What Can You Recover for a Breached Contract or DTPA Violation?
In both claims, the law seeks to place the harmed party in the position they would have been in had the other party acted properly.
Under the DTPA, you can recover economic damages, also known as “actual damages” or your provable financial losses. If the defendant knowingly defrauds or misleads you, you can also recover damages for mental anguish which is up to three times your economic damages. A court can also revoke any wrongly obtained licenses and order the defendant to cease their wrongful acts. And, if you win, the defendant must pay your attorney fees and court costs.
You are entitled to recover actual damages in a breach of contract claim as long as the defendant could reasonably foresee those damages. In rare cases, like when the contract involves a unique item or real estate, you may be awarded “specific performance,” where the court compels the defendant to uphold their end of the contract. Otherwise, you are generally compensated to approximate the resources you had when you entered into the contract. You may also recover attorney’s fees and court costs in certain situations.
How Can The Curley Law Firm Help?
At The Curley Law Firm, we can guide you through a claim when either a breach of contract or a DTPA issue arises, and we can help you when the two issues overlap. Our years of experience position our firm among those attorneys for breach of contract who can also handle DTPA claims between businesses. We can help you determine whether the breach resulted from a simple one-time purchase or a complex, multi-faceted contract. Contact us today to learn more.