FDUTPA Claims in Florida: Are ‘As-Is” Provisions in Contracts Always Enforceable?
Many purchase contracts—from real estate agreements to motor vehicle contracts—contain a so-called ‘as-is’ or ‘no-warranty’ clause. As it is popularly understood, an ‘as-is’ contract provision states that the seller makes no express or implied guarantees as to the condition of the property being sold. In other words, the buyer is assuming the risks.
While ‘as-is’ contract provisions are enforceable in Florida, there are limits. In some cases, the buyer may still have a claim against the seller under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA). Here, our West Palm Beach business & consumer fraud attorneys explain the most important things you need to know about the enforceability of ‘as-is’ contract provisions in Florida.
Know the Limits of As-Is Provisions in Florida: An Overview of White v. Ferco Motors Corp.
In Florida, courts generally try to uphold the bargained-for intent of the parties. In other words, when two parties enter a contract, Florida law generally favors upholding the terms of the agreement. Nonetheless, there are strict limits on what is and what is not enforceable. A 2018 decision from the Third District Court of Appeal of Florida provides a useful example.
In the case of White v. Ferco Motors Corp., the plaintiff (Mr. White) entered into a vehicle purchase agreement that included in the line “we are selling this vehicle to you as-is.” Almost immediately, the vehicle purchase by Mr. White broke down. It had a serious engine flaw that rendered a repair unreasonably expensive given the car’s underlying value. Mr. White filed a lawsuit on the grounds that his rights were violated under the FDUTPA.
In its decision, the court acknowledged the fact that Mr. White had signed a contract with a full ‘as-is’ clause. Yet, the court also ruled that this did not prevent him from filing a lawsuit under the FDUTPA. The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act exists to protect consumers from fraud and that a contract cannot be used to indemnify a seller against this type of fraud claim. These contract provisions are powerful, but they are still strict limits on what they can do in Florida.
The Bottom Line: As-is/no warranty contract provisions are legally enforceable in Florida. However, they do not prevent the buyer from filing an FDUTPA claim for fraud. A seller can still be held liable for material misrepresentations or material omissions even if the buyer signed an as-is contract.
Call Our South Florida FDUTPA Attorneys for Immediate Help With Your Case
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business and consumer fraud lawyers have the tenacity and knowledge to handle the full spectrum of FDUTPA claims. If you have questions or concerns about an ‘as-is’ contract provisions, we are more than ready to offer assistance. Contact us now for a confidential review of your legal case. We handle FDUTPA claims throughout South Florida, including in Miami, West Palm Beach, Sunrise, Pompano Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Lake Worth.