Baylor Law Review
Mental anguish jurisprudence has witnessed a tumultuous evolution. Consumer law, as codified in the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, has been uniquely impacted by the evolving law of mental anguish.
Recently, the Texas Supreme Court reaffirmed the standard for recovery of mental anguish damages under the DTPA. In the case of Boyles v. Kerr, the Texas Supreme Court had the opportunity to reconcile mental anguish damages under the DTPA with mental anguish jurisprudence. However, instead of aggressively recognizing one’s interest in their emotional well-being, the court retreated, reversing almost a decade of mental anguish jurisprudence.
This recently reaffirmed standard for recovery of mental anguish should be rejected. This determination is supported by the findings of a review of: 1) an historical overview of mental anguish; 2) the Texas Supreme Court’s current view of mental anguish under the DTPA; and 3) mental anguish damages under the DTPA in relation to the rules of judicial construction.
The Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized an individual’s right to be free from mental anguish. Yet, the court has created obstacles for the DTPA plaintiff that not only violate the drafters’ intent that the Act be liberally construed, but that are also contrary to the Act’s goals. If the court intends to recognize the individual right to be free from mental anguish, it will have to reject this standard of recovery, and not be afraid to be a leader in mental anguish jurisprudence.
Charles E. Cantú and Jared Woodfull V, Boyles v. Kerr: The Wrong Decision at the Right Time: Implications for Mental Anguish Damages Under the DTPA, 45 Baylor L. Rev. 827 (1993).