FDUTPA and Attorneys’ Fees: What You Need to Know
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) provides protections to consumers and businesses against fraud and other unjust commercial practices. By filing an FDUTPA lawsuit, a plaintiff can seek financial compensation for damages sustained. Notably, the statute also allows for the awarding of attorneys’ fees and legal costs. Here, our West Palm Beach deceptive & unfair trade practices attorneys highlight the key things you should know about legal fees and FDUPTA lawsuits.
The FDUTPA and Attorneys’ Fees: Four Things You Should Know
- The FDUPTA Contains a Fee-Shifting Provision
As a starting point, it is important to emphasize that the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act includes a clear fee-shifting provision. If you win an FDUPTA lawsuit, you have the right to seek financial compensation for reasonable attorneys’ fees and other legal costs from the other party.
- Attorneys’ Fees Can Be Awarded to Either Party
The FDUTPA allows for fee-shifting from the prevailing party to the non-prevailing. In other words, the loser can be ordered to pay the winner’s attorneys’ fees. The law works in both directions. A successful plaintiff can seek attorneys’ fees from the defendant. Likewise, a party who successfully defends an FDUTPA lawsuit can then move to get compensation for their attorneys’ fees.
- Fee-Shifting is Discretionary, Not Mandatory
Prior to 1994, the FDUTPA fee-shifting provision was mandatory. The prevailing party was always awarded attorneys’ fees in this type of fraud lawsuit. However, Florida legislators reformed the statute. Under the current version of the law, fee-shifting is discretionary. A Florida court has the authority to award attorneys’ fees, but it is not a requirement of the statute. If you want attorneys’ fees in an FDUTPA, you have the obligation to make a claim from them—proving to the court that awarding fees is appropriate.
- The Standard for Fee-Shifting is Somewhat Vague
As the awarding of attorneys’ fees is not mandatory in a Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act lawsuit, you may be wondering: What standard does the court use when weighing a claim for attorneys’ fees? The general answer is that Florida courts will consider the specific nature of the allegations. If a plaintiff brings a clearly frivolous FDUTPA claim, attorneys’ fees are likely to be awarded to the defendant. Similarly, if the defendant engaged in clear misconduct under the statute, they are likely to be required to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. If the case is “close”, attorneys’ fees may not be awarded as a remedy to the prevailing party.
Get in Touch With Our Florida Fraud Claims Attorneys Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida business and consumer fraud lawyers are focused on solving problems for clients. If you or someone you know wants more information about your rights or responsibilities under the FDUTPA, we are here as a legal resource. Call us now for a confidential initial case evaluation. We have law offices in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami and we represent businesses and individuals throughout South Florida.