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Florida Deceptive Trade Practices Laws

Florida has not adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  Florida deceptive trade practices laws are stated in Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“Act”).  The Act is enumerated in Florida Statutes, Title 33, Chapter 501, Part II.

Under Sections 500.177 and 817.06, false advertising, and business or sale of adulterated food is a second degree misdemeanor.  Under Section 319.35, tampering a vehicle’s odometer to misrepresent the miles in the meter is a third degree felony.

Under Section 501.203, office of the state attorney is the enforcing authority if the violation occurs within the judicial circuit under office’s jurisdiction.  The state attorney’s office acts upon receiving a written complaint.  Sometimes the Enforcing authority will be the Department of Legal Affairs, if the violation occurs and affects more than one judicial circuit.

Under Section 501.207, remedies available through the enforcing authority are actual damages if the violation was in bad faith, declaratory judgment that an act is a violation, and injunction.  Under Section 501.2075, civil penalty up to $10,000 per violation is imposed in addition to reasonable attorney fees and costs.

Fla. Stat. § 501.204  reads:

§ 501.204.  Unlawful acts and practices

   (1) Unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.

(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that, in construing subsection (1), due consideration and great weight shall be given to the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts relating to s. 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 45(a)(1) as of July 1, 2006.

Fla. Stat. § 501.203 reads in part:


“(2) “Enforcing authority” means the office of the state attorney if a violation of this part occurs in or affects the judicial circuit under the office’s jurisdiction. “Enforcing authority” means the Department of Legal Affairs if the violation occurs in or affects more than one judicial circuit or if the office of the state attorney defers to the department in writing, or fails to act upon a violation within 90 days after a written complaint has been filed with the state attorney.”

Fla. Stat. § 501.207 reads in part:
“§ 501.207.  Remedies of enforcing authority
   (1) The enforcing authority may bring:
   (a) An action to obtain a declaratory judgment that an act or practice violates this part.
   (b) An action to enjoin any person who has violated, is violating, or is otherwise likely to violate, this part.
   (c) An action on behalf of one or more consumers or governmental entities for the actual damages caused by an act or practice in violation of this part. However, damages are not recoverable under this section against a retailer who has in good faith engaged in the dissemination of claims of a manufacturer or wholesaler without actual knowledge that it violated this part.
(2) Before bringing an action under paragraph (1)(a) or paragraph (1)(c), the head of the enforcing authority shall review the matter and determine if an enforcement action serves the public interest. This determination shall be made in writing, but shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 120.”

Fla. Stat. § 817.06 reads:

“§ 817.06.  Misleading advertisements prohibited; penalty
   (1) No person, persons, association, copartnership, or institution shall, with intent to offer or sell or in anywise dispose of merchandise, securities, certificates, diplomas, documents, or other credentials purporting to reflect proficiency in any trade, skill, profession, credits for academic achievement, service or anything offered by such person, persons, association, copartnership, corporation, or institution directly or indirectly, to the public, for sale or distribution or issuance, or with intent to increase the consumption or use thereof, or with intent to induce the public in any manner to enter into any obligation relating thereto, or to acquire title thereto, or any interest therein, or ownership thereof, knowingly or intentionally make, publish, disseminate, circulate or place before the public, or cause, directly or indirectly, to be made, published, disseminated or circulated or placed before the public in this state in a newspaper or other publication or in the form of a book, notice, handbill, poster, bill, circular, pamphlet or letter or in any other way, an advertisement of any sort regarding such certificate, diploma, document, credential, academic credits, merchandise, security, service or anything so offered to the public, which advertisement contains any assertion, representation or statement which is untrue, deceptive, or misleading.
(2) Any person, persons, association, copartnership, corporation, or institution found guilty of a violation of subsection (1) shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.”

Inside Florida Deceptive Trade Practices Laws