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FLORIDA DECEPTIVE AND UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES ACT

 Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”) protects consumers from deceptive and unfair trade practices, and provides an avenue for those harmed by those acts and practices to be made whole again. Although plaintiffs are limited to recovery of actual damages, attorneys’ fees and costs are recoverable under the Act, in addition to civil penalties when applicable. 

FDUTPA, Stat. §501.201-213, is part of Florida’s consumer protection laws meant “to protect the consuming public and legitimate business enterprises from those who engage in unfair methods of competition, or unconscionable, deceptive, or unfair acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” Fla. Stat. 501.202(2). 

 

Claims under FDUTPA

“‘[A] consumer claim for damages under FDUTPA has three elements: (1) a deceptive act or unfair practice; (2) causation; and (3) actual damages.”’ In re Florida Cement & Concrete Antitrust Litigation, 746 F.Supp.2d 1291, 1320 (S.D. Fla. 2010), quoting Rollins, Inc., 951 So.2d at 869. The plaintiff need not prove fraud, see State of Florida, Office of Attorney General, Dept. of Legal Affairs v. Tenet Healthcare Corp., 420 F.Supp.2d 1288 (S.D. Fla. 2005).

 
Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices

            “An unfair practice is ‘one that offends established public policy’ and one that is immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or substantially injurious to consumers.” Rollins, Inc. v. Butland, 951 So.2d 860, 869 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007). D’ [internal citations omitted]. Due consideration and great weight in interpreting unlawful acts and practices under FDUTPA are given to federal courts and the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C.A. §45(a)(1). Fla. Stat. §501.204(2).

 

Examples include:

  • Certain breaches of contract

  • Bait and Switches

  • False Advertisements

  • Illegal Discounts

  • High Pressure Sales Tactics

  • Misrepresentation of Warranty Terms

  • False Claims of Uniqueness

  • Common Law Claims of Unfair Competition

 

Remedies

After a plaintiff has established that a deceptive act or unfair trade practice transpired and caused an injury to the plaintiff, the plaintiff must prove actual damages were the result act or practice.

 

Actual Damages

Actual damages are the difference in the market value of the product or service in the condition in which it was delivered and its market value in the condition in which it should have been delivered as described in the contract of the parties. See Rodriquez v. Recovery Performance & Marine, LLC, 38 So.3d 178 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).

 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be recovered for common-law claims of unfair competition. See Murphy Door Bed Co. v. Interior Sleep Systems, Inc., 874 F.2d 95 (2d Cir. 1989).

 

FDUTPA “does not provide for recovery of consequential or special damages.” Orkin Exterminating Co. v.DelGuidice, 790 So.2d 1158, 1162 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).

 

Attorneys’ Fees

The prevailing party in civil litigation under FDUTPA is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and cost under Fla. Stat. 501.2105.

 

Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief

“[A]ny aggrieved party may file an action asking the trial court for a declaratory judgment that a given practice violates the Act and for injunctive relief to prevent a subsequent violation.” Airflo A/C & Heating, Inc. v. Pagan, 929 So.2d 739 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006).

 

Civil Penalty

Under Florida Statute 501.2075 any entity that willfully violates used a method, act, or practice that is declared unlawful under FDUTPA is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 for each violation.

 

 

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of an act in violation of FDUPTA take the First Step and set up a consultation today.