FDUTPA Violations: Defining The Terms “Deceptive” And “Unfair”
Often referred to simply as the “Little FTC Act”, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act (FDUTPA) is our state’s most comprehensive consumer protection law. It allows consumers, organizations, and businesses to seek financial relief for damages caused by “deceptive” practices and/or “unfair” commercial conduct.
This raises an important question: What constitutes an FDUTPA violation? In this article, our Miami deceptive & unfair trade practices lawyers answer the questions by explaining the most important things to know about how Florida courts define the terms “deceptive” and “unfair” when interpreting the state’s key consumer protection law.
Background: Florida Policy Calls for Broad Interpretation
As a starting point, it is worthwhile to emphasize that Florida policy states that “deceptive” and “unfair” should be interpreted in a relatively broad manner. Considerable weight is given to the view of reasonable and ordinary consumers. That is to say that conduct a reasonable person would view as “deceptive” or “unfair” is prohibited by the FDUTPA.
Deceptive: Likely to Mislead
In Florida, businesses and organizations have a basic legal responsibility to engage fair, honest, and straightforward practices when engaging with consumers or other companies. In the 2000 case of Davis v. Powertel, Inc., a Florida appeals court stated clearly that the term “deceptive” under the FDUTPA should be interpreted with reference to federal court interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act). There is long-standing federal case law that defines a deceptive commercial practice as one that is “likely to mislead” consumers.
Unfair: Offends the Conscience of Ordinary Consumers
The FDUTPA also bars conduct that is considered to be unfair by consumers. Once again, Florida law instructed its courts to look to the federal interpretations of the FTC Act. A commercial practice is unlawfully unfair under the FDUTPA if it offends the conscience of a reasonable and ordinary person on the grounds that it is immoral, unethical, or unscrupulous.
FDUTPA Requires Objective, Not Subjective “Deceptive” or “Unfair” Practice
In many common law fraud claims, a plaintiff is required to prove subjective reliance. In other words, they have to establish that they were induced by the wrongful conduct of the defendant. The FDUTPA uses an objective standard instead of a subjective standard.
You are not required to prove that you were actually deceived to bring a claim for losses related to a deceptive practice under the FDUPTA. Likewise, it is not sufficient to prove that you were actually deceived to bring a successful FDUTPA claim. You must prove that the practice in question would be “likely to mislead” a reasonable consumer.
Set Up a Confidential Consultation With a Florida FDUTPA Lawyer Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we have considerable experience handling FDUTPA claims. If you have any specific questions about the legal interpretation of “deceptive” or “unfair” under Florida law, we can help. Contact us now for a confidential, no commitment review of your case. We provide FDUTPA representation throughout the entire region, including in Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, and Jupiter.