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The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects you against unscrupulous sellers

Richard M.  Alderman Interim Dean of the Law Center

Richard M. Alderman
Interim Dean of the Law Center

Q. In January, a business agreed to install a new “Ford remanufactured engine” in my truck. On the receipt, it came with a 100,000 miles and three-year warranty. Before 1,000 miles, the truck started making a knocking noise. The business told me it was the transmission. On May 9, I brought the truck to a local Ford dealer. The dealership performed a complete diagnostics on the truck. The dealer’s service tech said the knocking was coming from the engine. He also informed me that engine was not a Ford remanufactured engine, it didn’t have a Ford engine serial number and didn’t display a Ford ID plate. Also, some of the engine had been painted. In his opinion, a used engine had been installed in my truck. Based on these facts, what legal action would you recommend? In my view, this appears to be a case of outright consumer fraud. Thank you!
A. Texas has a very good consumer protection law called the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This law protects you whenever a seller makes false, misleading or deceptive representations, breaches a warranty or acts in an unconscionable manner. Based on what you say, my opinion is that the seller of the engine violated this law in many ways. Specifically, it misrepresented that the engine was a “new Ford remanufactured engine,” breached its express warranty regarding the engine, and acted in an unconscionable manner by taking “grossly unfair advantage of you.” If you were to sue under this law, it allows you to recover the money you have lost because of the seller’s conduct, up to three times your damages if you show the seller knew or should have know that it was not a new Ford manufactured engine, and any attorney’s fees you incurred.
My suggestion is to first speak with the seller and it know you expect it will promptly install the correct engine at no cost to you, or refund what you paid. Let the seller know you know your legal rights and will pursue them if you cannot work things out. If the seller refuses to work with you, your options are to file a claim in small claims court, or speak with a local consumer attorney. Remember, if you were to sue and prevail, you would recover your attorney’s fees from the other side.
Q. How is child support computed? Does the court look at things like overtime pay, and “extra” income? My soon to be ex says that only regular income is included.
A. Child support is computed from all “net resources.” This basically includes any income received from any source. It includes overtime pay, and any other income from any source, including things like rent, interest, dividends and even gifts and prizes. The amount is reduced, however, by any taxes or social security that is paid. Once the court determines the amount of net resources, state guidelines recommend the amount to be paid for child support. For one child, the amount is 20%, and 5% is added for each additional child.
Q. A friend told me you publish a Consumer Alert newsletter. How do I subscribe?
A. Your friend is correct. I publish a consumer newsletter that is delivered by email three times a week. It contains helpful information for consumers, everything from shopping tips to a discussion of legal issues. Best of all, the Consumer Alert is absolutely free. To subscribe, just visit my website, www.peopleslawyer.net.
Q. My lease ended and I went month-to-month. My landlord says I still must give 60 days notice before I leave. Is this legal? I thought you only had to give thirty days notice when a lease was month-to-month?
A. This has become a common question. As a general rule, when parties have a month-to-month tenancy, either party may end the relationship by giving thirty days notice. On the other hand, parties may always agree to extend or shorten this time period. My guess is that your lease has a clause saying that after the lease period ends you become a month-to-month tenant. It probably also says that even if you become a month-to-month tenant, you still have to give 60 days notice. I don’t like such clauses because tenants usually are not aware of them, but they probably are enforceable.

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