Bradford v. Vento

In Bradford v. Vento, 48 S.W.3d 749, 755, 44 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 655 (Tex. 2001), the supreme court emphasized that the second element required by the charge--that Springs knew that Blind Maker was ignorant of the fact and did not have an equal opportunity to discover the truth--incorporates two requirements: (1) the defendant must be shown to have known that the plaintiff was ignorant of a material fact, and (2) the fact must be one that the plaintiff did not have an equal opportunity to discover. See 48 S.W.3d 749, 44 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 655. Bradford involved a fraud claim asserted by Vento, who became embroiled in a dispute over whether he had purchased a sports memorabilia shop from Taylor. 48 S.W.3d at 752-54. The shop was located at a mall. Id. at 752. After believing he had purchased the shop from Taylor, Vento went to Bradford's office, paid the shop's rent for the month of October 1994, informed Bradford that he had purchased the store, and inquired about a long-term lease. Id. Bradford congratulated Vento on purchasing the store, indicated that he had heard about his purchase, informed him that the monthly rent he had paid was a "decent deal," suggested that a long-term was a bad idea, and said he would "take care of" Vento in January. Id. Bradford did not mention that the store's lease was non-assignable, that additional rent would be due for December, and that Vento would be required to apply for a new lease. Id. Sometime after this meeting concluded, Taylor informed Bradford that he still owned the store and that there could be trouble with Vento. 48 S.W.3d at 752-53. Bradford alerted mall security, an altercation ensued involving Vento, Taylor, Bradford, and mall security, and Vento was asked by police to leave the mall because he could not prove his ownership. Id. at 753. Vento sued Bradford, among others. Id. The trial court submitted theories of both fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent nondisclosure to the jury, which awarded damages to Vento against Bradford. Id. at 753-54. The supreme court reversed, holding that there was no evidence that Bradford knew Vento was ignorant of a fact and did not have an equal opportunity to discover the truth. It relied on the fact that even though Vento claimed to have purchased the store, he never asked Bradford or any other mall personnel for a copy of the store's lease, the terms of the lease, or whether any rent was due for the two months between his meeting and January. 48 S.W.3d at 756. It added that Vento had never asked for the lease to be assigned to him and that he had only inquired about a long-term lease for himself. Id. Moreover, the supreme court held, there was "no evidence that Bradford knew that Vento had not obtained or could not obtain the information from other sources, such as Taylor, from whom Vento was buying the store." Id. at 755-56.