Florida consumers are protected by the states’ Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act against unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the commerce of any trade or commerce. If you have been deceived or taken advantage of by any business, company or corporation, you may have a claim. If you think you have been the victim of an unfair or deceptive trade practice, call our experienced attorneys immediately to schedule your free consultation. Please click https://www.352law.com/contact/ to contact our Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act attorneys or call (352) 505-8900 to schedule your free consultation.
What is the Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act?
Initially enacted in 1972, Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) was created to give consumers legal protection and it prohibits deceptive, unfair and/or unconscionable trade practices and unfair methods of competition. At Massey & Duffy we are experienced in handling a variety of issues that arise when the act is violated. If you feel your rights have been violated, please call today – we may be able to help you.
Florida has various consumer protection statutes that provide remedies for unfair and deceptive acts and practices, commonly referred to as UDAP statutes. All states have enacted at least one UDAP statute. They apply to most consumer transactions and provide widespread consumer remedies for many sales abuses. UDAP violations are easier to prove than common law fraud. Generally, there is no requirement to prove a seller’s fraudulent intent or motive. In some cases, consumer reliance, damage or even actual deception is not prerequisite for action. Where a practice does not fall precisely under another consumer statute, UDAP statutes can provide an all-purpose remedy. Almost any abusive business practice is arguably a UDAP violation.
Where a private UDAP action is authorized, most statutes provide for private remedies beyond mere actual damages. Some jurisdictions authorize treble damages in certain situations, such as when the seller’s conduct is willful or the seller refuses to make a reasonable settlement. Some UDAP statutes explicitly authorize punitive damages, and such damages may be available in other states through the court’s inherent authority. Some UDAP statutes authorize minimum statutory damages ranging from $25 to $2,000. Most common among these are $100 and $200 minimum damages. Every state UDAP statute that permits a private right of action also permits the award of attorneys’ fees. Injunctions are explicitly authorized by a majority of statutes and may be allowed, even if not explicitly mentioned, where the UDAP statute refers to “other equitable remedies.”
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act is the federal law upon which most state UDAP statutes are patterned. “Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are declared unlawful.” 15 U.S.C. S 45. There are no private remedies, only FTC enforcement.
- For an excellent discussion of UDAP statutes see, National Consumer Law Center, “Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices,” The Consumer Credit and Sales Legal Practice Series, (3d ed. 1991 with 1993 cumulative supplement). The discussion which follows comes from this publication.
Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA)
FDUTPA broadly declares in §501.204(1) that “[u]nfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce” are unlawful. By design, FDUTPA does not contain a definition or “laundry list” of just which acts can be “deceptive,” “unfair,” or “unconscionable.” No specific rule or regulation is required to find conduct unfair or deceptive under the statute, but there are some exceptions.
Exceptions of the FDUTPA
- An act or practice required or specifically permitted by federal or state law.
- A publisher, broadcaster, printer, or other person engaged in distributing information or reproducing printed materials, including picture, so long as it is being distributed for pother without knowledge of violation.
- A claim for personal injury or death or a claim for damage to property other than the property that is the subject of the consumer transaction.
- Any person or activity regulated under laws administered by:
- the Office of Insurance Regulation of the Financial Services Commission;
- banks and savings and loan associations regulated by the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission
- banks or savings and loan associations regulated by federal agencies; or
- any person or activity regulated under the laws administered by the former Department of Insurance which are now administered by the Department of Financial Services
- Any activity regulated under laws administered by the Florida Public Service Commission
There are additional exceptions to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. It is imperative a knowledgeable and experienced attorney review your facts. If you feel your Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act rights have been violated, please call Massey & Duffy today – we may be able to help you. It is important you have a qualified and experienced attorney review your situation.
Contact Massey & Duffy Immediately
Our lawyers have the experience and ability required to support our clients on an expansive scope of Unfair & Deceptive Acts & Practices issues. At Massey & Duffy, we are experienced attorneys fighting for what is right. Please contact our FDUTPA attorneys or call (352) 505-8900 to schedule your free consultation.