In Florida, businesses are prohibited in engaging in certain business practices. Through the Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act, Florida provides for accountability in order to ensure that businesses refrain from engaging in what is deemed deceptive behavior. While it is redundant to state that a business should refrain at all costs from engaging in prohibited behavior, it is especially important for a business to understand the types of practice it cannot engage in under the Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Codified at Fla. Stat. 501.201, et seq., the Act seeks to cover a number of otherwise illegal and immoral behaviors by a business. This includes making false claims, spreading disinformation, using misleading tactics to enhance sales, and engaging in false advertising. However, there is no single definition of what is considered deceptive or unfair under the Act. Therefore, it is advisable for businesses to avoid all practices that may be considered to be deceptive or unfair.
Under the Act, businesses that engage in this type of behavior expose themselves to both criminal and civil liability. Both the enforcing authority for the specific industry and an affected consumer in a private action can bring suit under the Act. The type of penalty incurred by the business will be based on the type of activity engaged in and who brings forth the suit. For example, allegations of false advertising can lead to a second degree misdemeanor charge. Damages will vary based on the industry where the deceptive trade practice is being used. Willful deceptive practices can result up to a $10,000 fine for each violation, as well as reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Any private citizen alleging wrongful actions under the Act can recover actual damages, an injunction, or declaratory judgment.
As a business owner, you must know what is owed of your company under the Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act. It is never too late to steer your company in the right direction. Sometimes you may not even be aware that your actions can expose you to such liability. Discussing your current business practices with an experienced attorney can help ensure that your business’s practices are in line with the legal requirements. Call the Trembly Law Firm at (305) 431-5678 today to schedule a consultation.