Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices in Florida
Two McDonald’s customers recently filed a class action lawsuit against the fast food giant. They filed their complaint in federal court in Florida, claiming that they’ve been charged the full price for the Quarter Pounder with Cheese even when they order it without the cheese. The customers are seeking damages under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, state unjust enrichment law, and federal antitrust regulations.
McDonald’s asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that retail restaurants don’t “have some legal obligation to reduce the price of a standard menu item to reflect the customer’s decision to decline some ingredient or component of that item.” The restaurant also argues that the customers weren’t injured by ordering a sandwich and paying the advertised price.
Whether the claim is viable remains to be seen.
What Is the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act?
The point of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act is to protect consumers from unconscionable business practices. (Routinely overcharging customers is clearly an unconscionable practice, so if McDonald’s is guilty of doing that then the customers have a viable complaint). Customers have the right to sue for damages when businesses engage in deceptive, unfair or unconscionable trade practices.
What Is Unjust Enrichment?
Unjust enrichment is a little more complicated. This comes up in situations where there isn’t an express contract between two parties, but the law sees fit to imply one. The goal is to prevent one party from being unjustly enriched, so courts will enforce the implied agreement. For example, in the McDonald’s case, the customers are arguing that the restaurant was unjustly enriched because it charged them for cheese on their Quarter Pounder when they asked for the cheese to be removed. Whether that constitutes unjust enrichment is for the court to decide.
To prove unjust enrichment, you must show that:
- you conferred a benefit on the defendant
- the defendant knows about the benefit and accepted it, and
- it would be unfair for the defendant to keep the benefit without paying fair market value.
In other words, courts will consider what’s fair given the circumstances. For example, in the McDonald’s case, is it fair that the retail restaurant charges customers the same price for a Quarter Pounder with cheese as for a cheese-less Quarter Pounder? If the court decides that McDonald’s treated their customers unfairly, then it could also find that the restaurant was unjustly enriched.
Is the McDonald Lawsuit Frivolous?
In its response to the recently filed lawsuit, the retail restaurant called the claims “nonsense.” They could be sanctioned if it turns out they filed a frivolous lawsuit.
Contact Us Today
Contact a Miami personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured by potentially deceptive trade practices. We will examine the facts of your case and help seek compensation for your injuries.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.