“ACTUAL DAMAGES” UNDER FLORIDA’S DECEPTIVE AND UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES ACT

u dec prUnder Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”), a party can only recover in principal what the statute refers to as “actual damages.” See Fla. Stat. s. 501.211(2) (“In any action brought by a person who has suffered a loss as a result of a violation of this part, such person may recover actual damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs….”) However, the statute does not define the term actual damages and, thus, parties need to analyze Florida caselaw to understand the meaning of actual damages. This is important so parties know the damages covered under FDUTPA. A claim under FDUTPA is sometimes asserted in a construction-related dispute. Sometimes, it is asserted if a party is seeking an avenue to potentially recover attorneys’ fees.

 
Florida courts (or federal courts interpreting Florida law) have maintained that “actual damages” refer to the “difference in the market value of the product or service in the condition it was delivered and its market value in the condition in which it should have been delivered according to the contract of the parties. A notable exception to the rule may exist when the product is rendered valueless as a result of the defect-then the purchase price is the appropriate measure of damages.Rollins, Inc. v. Butland, 951 So.2d 860, 869 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006) quoting Rollins, Inc. v. Heller, 454 So.2d 580, 585 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984).

 
This is similar to benefit of the bargain damages – the market value of the product represented minus the market value of the product delivered. See Gastaldi v. Sunvest Resort Communities, LC, 709 F. Supp. 2d 1299, 1304 (S.D.Fla. 2010).
Based on the way Florida cases define actual damages under FDUTPA, a party needs to prove its damages in accordance with this definition by analyzing the market value of the product represented versus the market value of the product actually received / delivered.

 

Examples of cases discussing the measure of actual damages under FDUTPA are as follows:

 

- Rollins v. Heller, 454 So.2d 580, 585 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984) – measure of damages would be the market value of the alarm system and the services alarm company agreed to provide [as represented] minus the market value of the alarm system and services actually provided [as delivered];

 

-Ft. Lauderdale Lincoln Mercury, Inc. v. Corgnati, 715 So.2d 311, 315 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) –measure of damages would be the market value of the used BMW that was never in an accident and with a remote infrared opener [as represented] minus the market value of the BMW which had been in an accident and without remote infrared opener [as delivered];

 

H&J Paving of Fla., Inc. v. Nextel, Inc., 849 So.2d 1099, 1102 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003) –measure of damages “would be the value of the product at the time of the sale based upon a useful life of approximately eight years [as represented] and [minus] the value of the product which would become obsolete within a few years [as delivered];”

 

Gastaldi v. Sunvest Resort Communities, LC, 709 F. Supp. 2d 1299, 1307 (S.D.Fla. 2010)– measure of damages would be the difference in the market value of the condominium units with the condominium having a luxury sports club in 2009 [as represented] minus the market value of the condominium units without the condominium having a luxury sports club in 2009 [as delivered].

 

Notably, actual damages under FDUTPA does not include consequential-type damages (or damages other than those established by the measure provided above). See Dorestin v. Hollywood Imports, Inc., 45 So.3d 819, 824-25 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010) (FDUTPA does not allow for consequential damages or any other damages outside of actual damages); Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc. v. DelGuidice, 790 So.2d 1158, 1162 (Fla. 5th 2001) (actual damages do not include actual consequential damages). For example, lost profits or interest on payments would not be a recoverable consequential damage. See Rodriguez v. Recovery Performance & Marine, LLC, 38 So.3d 178 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010) and Siever v. BWGaskets, Inc., 669 F.Supp.2d 1286, 1294 (M.D.Fla. 2009).

 

Understanding actual damages in a FDUTPA claim is important prior to asserting a claim so that a party knows what is recoverable and what is not recoverable under FDUTPA. It is also important so that a party knows how to prove actual damages.

 

 

For more information on FDUTPA, please see:

http://www.floridaconstructionlegalupdates.com/attorneys-fees-under-a-floridas-deceptive-and-unfair-trade-practices-act-and-b-offers-of-judgment/

 

 

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.