When manufacturers or retailers make false claims, spread disinformation, or use other misleading tactics to entice sales, they are engaging in one or more deceptive trade practices. Examples include the tampering of odometers by car dealers and making wildly inaccurate claims about a given product. Florida’s deceptive trade practices law adheres to the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and allows both the enforcing authority for a specific industry and consumers to file suit.
Learn more about Florida deceptive trade practices law in the following table and the more expanded summary below. See FindLaw’s Consumer Protection section for related articles and resources.
|Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act Adopted||No (§§501.201, et seq.) Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act|
|False Advertising Forbidden||Yes|
|Who May Bring Suit||Enforcing authority for specific industry; consumer in private action §501.203|
|Remedies Available||False advertising: 2nd degree misdemeanor (§817.45); food: 2nd degree misdemeanor (§500.177); actual damages if in bad faith; injunction; declaratory judgment that act is violation (§501.207). Damages vary based on industry where deceptive trade practice is used. Generally false advertising is a 2nd degree misdemeanor; willful unfair trade practices in any industry may result in up to $10,000 civil penalty for each violation; reasonable attorney’s fees and costs (§501.2075)|
|Auto Odometer Tampering Forbidden||Yes; 3rd degree felony (§319.35)|
Deceptive practices restrictions in Florida can be found in Chapter 501 of the Florida statutes, known as the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The law regulates the behavior of a wide range of industries, including food and supplements, real estate, consumer products (such as cars), and credit cards. Banned behavior varies based on the the industry involved, but generally manufacturers and retailers may not use deceptive labeling and advertising or otherwise tamper with a product being sold.
Who May Bring Suit
Both a private citizen who is the victim of deceptive practices and the government authority in charge of enforcing the conduct of a particular industry may bring suit against a manufacturer or seller.
Punishment for deceptive trade practices depends on the industry involved. For example, false advertising is usually a second-degree misdemeanor and car odometer tampering is a third degree felony.
Damages for injuries suffered vary based on the exact conduct alleged. Potential remedies include the following:
- Actual damages if the defendant acted in bad faith;
- Injunction (a court order instructing the defendant to either perform a particular action or to stop certain behavior); or
- Declaratory judgment (a court determination of the rights or duties of parties involved in a civil dispute).
Additionally, willful (intentional) unfair trade practices in any industry may result in a $10,000 in civil fine and reasonable attorney fees and costs paid to the party brining bringing the lawsuit.
If you have been misled or injured by false information provided by a seller or manufacturer of a product, there may be legal remedies available. An experienced Florida attorney can discuss the facts of your case with you and provide the appropriate legal advice for your situation.