FDUTPA And False Advertising Claims
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is a state law designed to protect consumers and businesses against misleading and unjust commercial practices. As the statute reads, business practices are unlawful if they are deemed “unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices.”
One of the most common examples of an FDUTPA violation is false advertising. If you suffered financial harm due to false advertising in Florida, you may have a claim for compensation under the law. Here, our Miami deceptive & unfair trade practices attorney highlights some of the most important things to know about false advertising claims.
How is False Advertising Defined Under the FDUTPA?
To help ensure fair and competitive markets, federal and state laws prohibit false and deceptive advertising. As stated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are a wide range of federal ‘truth-in-advertising’ regulations on the book. The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act requires courts to give deference to the interpretations of the FTC when applying the statute. An advertisement may be false in several aspects, including:
- Warranty information; and
There can sometimes be a fine line between legitimate, but aggressive advertising designed to sell a product or service and unlawful false advertising that misleads consumers. Notably, Florida courts have consistently found that businesses are allowed to “puff up” their advertisements. The key difference is that companies cannot make a materially false claim or unintentionally conceal relevant information in order to paint a false perception in the mind of consumers.
Case Example: FDUTPA and False Advertising
An instructive example of a false advertising claim under the FDUTPA comes from the 2010 case of Nelson v. Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. In this case, the plaintiff filed a deceptive and unfair trade practices claim on the grounds that the defendant used false advertisements to sell one of its products, a formula for infants. According to the allegations, the defendant falsely claimed that its baby formula was the only one that contained DHA and ARA (two important nutrients). In reality, other (less expensive) brands contained the same level or a greater level of DHA and ARA.
The plaintiff eventually filed a class action lawsuit against the defendant for false advertising. In evaluating the false advertising FDUTPA claim, the Florida court ruled in favor of the consumer, finding that Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. made materially false statements in its advertisements that were made to induce action by consumers. The repeated use of the word “only” in the defendant’s advertisements was a key factor in the decision.
Get Help From a False Advertising Attorney in South Florida
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida FDUTPA lawyers have the professional skills and legal experience to protect the rights of businesses and consumers. If you have any questions about FDUTPA and false advertising claims, we are here to help. With offices in Miami, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens, we handle false advertising claims throughout South Florida, including in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Martin County.