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FDUTPA Claims: What Is A “Private Right of Action?”

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In Florida, businesses and other commercial organizations have a legal responsibility to treat consumers in a fair and good faith manner. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable for consumer damages under the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).

Notably, the FDUTPA contains a “private right of action”—meaning private parties can enforce the law. You do not have to wait on state regulators to file a legal claim. Here, our West Palm Beach deceptive & unfair trade practices lawyer provides an overview of an important legal concept: The private right of action. 

The FDUTPA Protects Consumers and Businesses 

The FDUTPA is one of the most important consumer protection laws in Florida. It helps to ensure that our state’s markets are fair and open. Individual consumers, commercial consumers, and competitor businesses are protected under the statute. The FDUTPA expressly prohibits:

  • Unfair methods of competition;
  • Unconscionable acts or practices; and
  • Unfair or deceptive acts or practices in trade/commerce.

A business or organization that violates the FDUTPA could face legal penalties—both in the form of a lawsuit from the aggrieved party and in the form of civil legal action from a state regulator. Indeed, Florida regulators can issue fines for FDUTPA violations. 

A Private Right of Action Allows Private Parties to Bring a Claim 

When a statute contains a “private right of action” it means that a private party—an individual, a business, or an organization—has the right to take action to enforce the law. Not all laws contain a private right of action. As a simple example, Florida Statutes § 655.85 bars certain types of check cashing fees. However, in 2015, an appeals court in Florida ruled that this specific statute contains no private right of action. In effect, this means that consumers cannot directly hold violators liable for a Section 655.85 violation. Instead, the State of Florida must initiate any legal claim.

In contrast, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act does include a private right of action. This gives FDUTPA a lot more “teeth” that some other types of consumer protection laws have. While Florida regulators can initiate an FDUTPA claim against a business that violates that statute, consumers do not have to wait on the state to take action. Any private party, including a competing business, has the right to file an FDUTPA lawsuit in Florida. Through an FDUTPA claim, a plaintiff can seek financial compensation for their actual losses related to the violation in question. 

Get Help From Our Deceptive and Unfair Commercial Practices Attorney Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we are committed to providing the highest level of guidance and support to our clients. With experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in deceptive and unfair commercial practice claims, our attorneys provide well-rounded representation. Call us now for a confidential case assessment. With legal office locations in West Palm Beach and Miami, our commercial lawyers are well-situated to represent clients throughout South Florida.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0500-0599/0501/0501PARTIIContentsIndex.html

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