Appearing before the Circuit Court in Pasco County, Attorney Kevin Brick argued for and obtained a judgment and an attorney’s fees award on behalf of his clients in a Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act case in February, 2017. The case involved a corporate and an individual defendant who wrongly held themselves out as licensed contractors able to perform certain home improvement construction projects, which were left uncompleted in 2016 after the contractors had been paid. Brick’s clients were then left to hire other contractors, at a higher cost, to complete the job.
At the hearing, Brick argued for – and won – an award of the higher costs paid to the other contractors as compensatory damages. Although the Defendants argued against the higher damages award, the Court agreed that the higher additional expenses incurred were a direct result of the Defendant’s breach of the contract. The main issue in the case was a breach of contract, but Attorney Brick also sued the defendants under a statutory cause of action under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (or “FDUTPA”) due to the deception used by the Defendants.
Under FDUTPA, anyone who is damaged by a deceptive act or unfair practice in furtherance of a trade or business is entitled to be protected under the Statute. Florida case law provides that, even if the breach of the contract and the deceptive act were one and the same, plaintiffs can still proceed under both causes of action so long as the breach is also a deceptive act. The damages under both causes of action were cumulative; however, suing under the statute allowed for Attorney Brick to argue for and obtain an additional award of attorney’s fees and costs, which would not have been available under the terms of the contract.
Although it is not mandatory for a court to order an award of attorney’s fees and costs under FDUTPA, the Court may use its discretion in providing such an award. Over the Defendant’s arguments and objections, the Court ordered that the Defendants pay all of Attorney Brick’s fees and costs, in addition to damages, at the close of the evidentiary hearing.
Brick Business Law, P.A. focuses on Florida business litigation issues such as breach of contract and violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The firm offers free consultations at their downtown Tampa offices, which can be set up by phone at 813-816-1816 or through the website’s contact form.