Over at the Reverse and Render blog, Mike Northrup has a post about the Texas Supreme Court’s recent Aquaplex decision.
This was a commercial fraud case in which the defendant disputed intent, causation, and damages.
On the causation question, the Court looked to evidence of intent. In particular, discussing the filing of a lis pendens notice, the Court noted that the intent behind the filing was to stop the sale of property.
But the post at Reverse and Render wonders if letting evidence of that intent also prove the causation element of fraud “collapses” the fraud tort down into something too easy to prove:
It is unclear how this holding fits with prior precedent holding that evil motive or intent does not necessarily establish a cause of action. This opinion should give concern to those who file lis pendens. The purpose of lis pendens is give initial notice of a claim to property. According to the Aquaplex decision, the filing of a lis pendens might well constitute a complete claim for fraud.
Like Mike, I would also be surprised if the Court mean to loosen the requirement that causation be shown to support fraud damages. I think it’s more likely that this is an example of a complex fact pattern being difficult to squeeze into its per curiam opinion. With that in mind, it could be a mistake to rely too much on Aquaplex when crafting your next jury charge.