Florida Court: FDUTPA Allows Class Action Certification For Concealment Claims
On December 6th, 2021, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a decision in the case of Cardenas v. Toyota Motor Corp. The court determined that class action certification was appropriate in a concealment case filed under the FDUTPA. Notably, a related civil RICO claim was not approved for class action certification. In this blog post, our West Palm Beach deceptive and unfair trade practices lawyer analyzes the decision from the Florida appeals court.
An Analysis of Cardenas v. Toyota Motor Corp
Background and Facts
In Cardenas v. Toyota Motor Corp, a class action lawsuit was filed against Toyota. The plaintiffs in this case sought to pursue both a class action civil RICO claim and a class action FDUTPA claim. For these claims, the plaintiffs sought to include any person who purchased a hybrid Toyota Camry in Florida between 2012 and 2014. The named plaintiff in this case, Javier Cardenas, purchased a hybrid Toyota Camry from an auto dealer in South Florida in 2014.
The plaintiffs allege that the vehicles in question had serious defects. Notably, the plaintiffs contend that the Toyota Motor Corp. was aware of the defects and proactively attempted to conceal the defects from consumers. According to the plaintiffs, Toyota knew that the vehicles had poorly designed/constructed HVAC systems. Due to the defect, small particles would become trapped causing the car to emit foul odors.
Class Action Certification—Only for FDUTPA
The plaintiffs in this case moved for class action certification for both their civil RICO claim and their deceptive and unfair trade practices lawsuit. Each claim is based on a similar legal theory—that Toyota actively tried to conceal a serious vehicle defect from consumers. Getting certified as a class can be a powerful tool for consumers. However, class action certification can also be difficult to obtain. The following three things are required of plaintiffs:
- They must prove that their class is so large that individual lawsuits is not practical;
- They must prove that class members have a common underlying claims; and
- They must establish that they are in a position to protect the interests of class members.
Upon reviewing the specific circumstances of this dispute, the Florida appeals court determined that class action certification is appropriate in the FDUTPA claim, but not the civil RICO claim. For several reasons, the court determined that the potential RICO claims of possible class members were too dissimilar and too speculative to warrant class certification. However, they found that potential class members do have common FDUTPA claims because plaintiffs are not required to prove actual reliance in an FDUTPA case. They merely have to prove that a reasonable consumer would have relied on the defendant’s representations.
Call Our West Palm Beach, FL FDUTPA Attorney Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our commercial litigation team has extensive experience representing clients in Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act claims. If you have any questions about your legal options, we are here to provide reliable support. Get in touch with us by phone for a confidential case evaluation. Our law firm represents clients all over Southeastern Florida, including in Miami, Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Fort Lauderdale, and Jupiter.