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Pennington v. Singleton

Supreme Court of Texas
606 S.W.2d 682 (1980)


J.W. Singleton (defendant) sold his used boat to Charles Pennington (plaintiff). Singleton told Pennington that the boat was in “perfect condition.” Unbeknownst to both Singleton and Pennington, the boat’s engine was damaged and required nearly $500 in repairs. The trial court concluded that Pennington did not prove common-law fraud but did prove a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). The DTPA did not require the defendant to have knowledge of the statement’s falsity or an intent to deceive. The DTPA provided for treble damages. The trial court held the DTPA applied to Singleton and imposed treble damages. On appeal, Singleton argued that the DTPA did not apply because Singleton was not in the business of selling boats but was merely selling his secondhand boat in an isolated transaction. Singleton also argued the DTPA was unconstitutionally vague in terms of the conduct it prohibited. Singleton argued that the statute could not impose treble damages without requiring proof of fraudulent intent. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment, and Pennington appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McGee, J.)

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