How Do Business Competitors File A Claim Under The FDUTPA?
The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) prohibits companies from using misleading, abusive, and otherwise unlawful practices to sell products and services. The FDUTPA is well-known as an important consumer protection law. What is less known is that the state statute also provides legal remedies to competitors of businesses that have engaged in deceptive and unfair conduct. In this blog post, our West Palm Beach deceptive and unfair trade practices attorneys explain what a competitor needs to prove to bring a successful claim under the FDUTPA.
Background: Business Have Standing to File an FDUTPA Claim
The FDUTPA is a long-standing Florida state law that is based largely on the federal FTC Act. In fact, the law is sometimes referred to as by the shorthand the “Little FTC Act.” In years past, there were questions about whether or not businesses and organizations had standing under the law.
Florida courts have cleared the matter up. The FDUTPA grants provide legal standing. Individuals, businesses, and organizations all have the right to bring FDUTPA lawsuits. In fact, businesses can bring an FDUTPA claim against a direct competitor for losses related to deceptive/unfair practices.
The Challenge: FDUTPA Only Allows Recover for “Actual Damages”
While businesses (including corporate competitors) have the right to sue under the FDUTPA, the reality is the vast majority of deceptive and unfair trade practices lawsuits in Florida are still filed by consumers. It can be somewhat more challenging for a competitor to bring an FDUTPA. One of the primary reasons is that Florida’s Little FTC Act only allows plaintiffs an opportunity to recover compensation for “actual damages.” In other words, a business filing an FDUTPA lawsuit against a competitor must be prepared to establish that they suffered actual damages as a direct result of the defendant’s deceptive and unfair conduct.
A Solution: Past Lost Profits May Qualify as an “Actual Damage”
The FDUTPA does not allow recovery for speculative losses or future damages. In effect, this means that a plaintiff business could not see compensation for the loss of future profits. That being said, there have been some key rulings from Florida courts over the last few years that have clarified a business competitor’s right to bring an FDUTPA claim for profits that have already been lost.
The Bottom Line: Businesses in Florida can sue a competing firm for deceptive and unfair practices under the FDUTPA. To successfully recover compensation through an FDUTPA claim, a business competitor generally needs to prove that they suffered actual damages in the form of lost profits due to the unfair and deceptive practice in question.
Consult With an Experienced FDUTPA Attorney in South Florida
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business fraud lawyers have the professional expertise that you can trust. If your company sustained tangible harm because of a competitor’s use of deceptive and unfair commercial practices, we are here to help you find the best path forward. Get in touch with us by phone or send us a confidential message online to set up an initial appointment. With offices in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami, we handle competitor FDUTPA claims throughout Florida.