What You Can (And Cannot) Recover In An FDUTPA Lawsuit
The FDUTPA—Florida’s Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act—provides powerful legal remedies to consumers and businesses harmed by an unjust business practice. The statute allows individuals, companies, and organizations to pursue financial compensation for their damages. That being said, there are some limits in place for financial recovery under the law. In this blog post, our Miami deceptive & unfair trade practices attorneys provide a brief explainer for what damages you can (and cannot) recover through a successful deceptive and unfair trade practice claim in Florida.
FDUTPA: Plaintiffs are Limited to Recovering Compensation for Actual Damages
Our state’s deceptive and unfair business practices law is clear: Plaintiffs can only recover financial compensation for “actual damages.” If you can prove that a defendant committed an FDUTPA violation, you can recover financial relief for the full extent of your actual damages. Over the past several decades, there has been extensive litigation over what exactly the term “actual damages” means in the FDUTPA.
It has been defined by the court as the difference in the market value of the product or service as offered in comparison to the value of the product or service as actually delivered. Any consumer or business that suffered harm due to an FDUTPA violation should carefully document the full extent of their actual losses. Proper documentation will help a plaintiff prove that those losses are actually recoverable through an FDUTPA lawsuit.
Defining the Limits: Know What You Cannot Recover for Under the FDUTPA
In restricting plaintiffs to seeking financial relief for “actual damages”, the FDUTPA puts some limits on recovery that do not apply in other types of commercial litigation cases, including in general breach of contract claims. In the 2008 case of City First Mortg. Corp. v. Barton, the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an instructive decision, emphasizing that the FDUTPA does not allow plaintiffs to seek financial relief for:
- Nominal damages;
- Speculative losses; or
- Subjective feelings of disappointment.
The case involved a Florida homeowner who defaulted on a mortgage loan. The borrower entered into a settlement agreement with a now-defunct financial institution. Eventually, the borrower negotiated funding for the settlement with City First Mortgage Corp. Unfortunately, that funding fell through. The borrower eventually sued City First Mortgage for an FDUTPA violation. However, a Florida court ruled that the secondary lender (City First Mortgage) could not be held liable for the foreclosure agreement falling apart because the damages were “too speculative” in nature. Plaintiffs must tie their FDUTPA damages as closely as possible to the deceptive/unfair conduct of the defendant.
Call Our Miami, FL FDUTPA Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida commercial litigation attorneys have experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in FDUTPA claims. If you have any specific questions about FDUTPA claims and damages, we are available to help. Give us a call now or reach out to us online to arrange your completely confidential case evaluation. From our law office locations in Miami, Wellington, and West Palm Beach, our attorneys handle deceptive trade practices claims throughout South Florida.