Four Things Consumers In Florida Should Know About The State’s ‘Little FTC Act”
The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act) is a more than one-century old federal law that bars unfair commercial practices by businesses and organizations. The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is sometimes referred to simply as the state’s “Little FTC Act.” The FDUTPA was largely modeled after the federal FTC Act. Though, there are some key differences. Here, our Miami deceptive & unfair trade practices lawyer highlights four things consumers in South Florida should know about the state’s ‘Little FTC Act.’
- The Little FTC Act Allows Consumer to Sue Offending Businesses
The FTC Act is one of the most important federal consumer protection statutes. Yet, it lacks a private right of action. This means that a consumer cannot file an FTC Act lawsuit directly against an offending business. Federal regulators must take action. However, Florida’s Little FTC Act is different. It does have a private right of action. You can sue a business for an FDUTPA violation.
- Florida’s Little FTC Act Protects Consumers Against Deception and Unfair Conduct
The language in the Florida Little FTC Act is modeled directly after its federal forerunner. It holds that a consumer in Florida can hold a business liable for “unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practice.” Of course, these are relatively broad terms. It is official policy in Florida that courts should look to federal case law to determine what constitutes an “unfair” practice or “deceptive” act.
- Actual Damages are the Primary Legal Remedy for Consumers
The FDUTPA has somewhat more restrictive damage provisions than some other laws. Under the Florida Little FTC Act, consumers can hold an offending business or organization legally liable for “actual damages.” Recovery for speculative damages and punitive damages are disfavored. Consumers bringing an FDUTPA lawsuit should be prepared to show how they suffered actual losses because of the unfair or deceptive conduct.
- The Florida Little FTC Act Authorizes Discretionary Fee-Shifting
Courts may award attorneys’ fees to the successful party in an FDUTPA lawsuit. To be clear, this means that the “loser” may be required to pay attorneys’ fees no matter what side they are on. A plaintiff may be awarded attorneys’ fees as part of their FDUTPA compensation. Alternatively, a defendant may be granted attorneys’ fees if a court finds that a consumer filed a frivolous FDUTPA claim. It is important to emphasize that fee-shifting is totally discretionary under the Florida Little FTC Act. Courts are not required to award attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party.
Seek Guidance From an FDUTPA Consumer Protection Attorney in South Florida
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida consumer protection lawyers have extensive experience handling FDUTPA claims. If you believe that your rights were violated because a business engaged in deceptive or unfair commercial practices, we are more than ready to help. Contact us today to arrange a confidential appointment with an attorney. With a law office in Miami and an office in West Palm Beach, our firm represents consumers in FDUTPA claims throughout South Florida.