How Are Damages Measured In An FDUTPA Claim?
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is a state statute that is sometimes referred to as “Florida little-FTC Act.” The law allows businesses and consumers to hold bad acting companies legally liable for damages caused by a deceptive, unfair, misleading, or otherwise unjust commercial practice.
The FDUTPA allows plaintiffs to recover compensation for the “actual” losses that they suffered. You may be wondering: How are actual damages calculated in an FDUTPA lawsuit? The answer depends on several factors. Here, our West Palm Beach deceptive and unfair trade practices attorney answers the question by citing an illustrative example in Florida case law.
Case Example: FDUTPA Claims and Actual Damages
Background and Facts
The 1984 case of Rollins Inc. v. Heller was decided by the Third District Court of Appeal for the State of Florida. It provides a useful example of how damages are measured in Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) claims. The Hellers, a married couple in Florida, hired a company owned and controlled by Rollins Inc. to install and maintain a security system on their home.
For two years, the Hellers paid their fees and assumed that the system was working properly. Then, their residence was burglarized. Soon after, it became clear that the security system was not working properly—likely a factor in the break-in. Notably, more than $1 million worth of property was stolen from the Hellers in the burglary. Though, 90 percent of the property was recovered.
The Legal Question: Measurement of Damages in an FDUTPA Claim
The issue before the appeals court in this case was not a question of liability but a question of damages. Under the FDUTPA, the Hellers sought compensation for the full value of their unrecovered property damages (approximately $128,000). In defending the FDUTPA lawsuit, Rollins Inc. raised a number of different issues, including challenging the measure of damages.
The Lesson: Net Difference in Market Value
At the trial stage, the court awarded the plaintiffs more than $225,000 in damages, including full compensation for their unrecovered property losses and punitive damages. On review, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed the award.
The court determined that the proper measure of damages in an FDUTPA claim is the “market value of the product or service in the condition in which it was delivered and the market value in the condition in which it was delivered.” However, that is not a limitation. A plaintiff can get full compensation for actual losses. Therefore, the appeals court allowed the plaintiff to get compensation for unrecovered property losses, but disallowed the award for punitive damages.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a South Florida FDUTPA Attorney Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida FDUTPA lawyers fight tirelessly to protect the legal rights of our clients. If you want more information about how damages are measured in an FDUTPA claim, we are here to provide answers. Connect with us now to arrange your no obligation consultation. Our firm handles FDUTPA claims throughout the entire region, including in West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami, and Miami Beach.