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Ritz-Carlton Fights FDUTPA Over Alleged Deceptive Tipping

West Palm Beach Business Litigation Attorney 2023-01-26 16-49-13

According to a report from Law360, Ritz-Carlton is still locked in an FDUTPA dispute over alleged deception in regards to its tipping practices. The lawsuit—which was originally filed against the hospitality company in 2020—contends that restaurant locations at Ritz-Carlton hotels in Florida did not give consumers proper notice before adding automatic gratuities to their bills. Here, our West Palm Beach deceptive and unfair trading practices attorneys discuss the allegations raised in the lawsuit and the standard of liability in FDUTPA claims in Florida.

The Allegations: Consumers Deceived About Tipping Practices at Ritz-Carlton Restaurants 

In 2020, a federal appeals court cleared the way for a class action FDUTPA lawsuit to proceed against Ritz-Carlton. The key issue in dispute was the way that the company handled tipping at its Florida restaurant locations. The named plaintiff had meals at three separate Ritz-Carlton restaurants in Florida. The plaintiff made the following allegations:

  • An 18 percent gratuity was automatically added to one bill without being stated at all; and
  • An 18 percent “suggested” gratuity was automatically added to two other bills, though the receipts did state this fact.

The FDUTPA lawsuit is still making its way through federal court. Now, the defendant—Ritz Carlton—is facing a challenge as one of its attorneys is at risk of being disqualified from the case. The petition to dismiss the attorney accused him of “judge shopping.”

 What to Know About the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) 

The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) is a consumer protection law that was enacted in Florida in 1973. It is designed to protect consumers—and businesses—from deceptive, fraudulent, and misleading business practices. The FDUTPA applies to a wide range of business activities, including advertising, sales, and credit practices.

While the law uses the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act as a model, there is also one important legal distinction between the two statutes: The FDUTPA has a private-right-of-action. In effect, this means that a consumer, business, or organization can file a lawsuit against any party engaged in a deceptive or otherwise unfair commercial practice. They do not need to wait for regulators to act.

Under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), a consumer or business who prevails in a lawsuit may be entitled to recover damages for their actual damages. For the most part, FDUTPA claims are limited to recovery for “actual damages” in any litigation. Speculative damages—such as lost profits—typically cannot be recovered in this type of claim.

 Get Help From Our Southeast Florida FDUTPA Lawyers Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we have deep expertise taking on FDUTPA cases. If you have any specific questions or concerns about FDUTPA liability, our attorneys are here to help you understand your rights and options. Give us a phone call now to set up your confidential initial appointment with an attorney. From our legal offices located in West Palm Beach and Miami, we provide FDUTPA representation throughout the wider region in Southeastern Florida.



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