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Court of Appeal of Florida, First District
April 29, 2020, Decided
[*859] Rowe, J.
Beatrice Harrison appeals a final summary judgment entered in a class action she brought against Lee Auto Holdings, Inc. based on fees it charged for electronic titling and registration of vehicles. Harrison alleged multiple violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, including a claim that Lee Auto deceptively represented the electronic filing fee as a pass-through charge payable to the government or another third party. The trial court dismissed that FDUPTA claim. But the court found that Lee Auto's disclosure of the fee violated another provision of FDUTPA, requiring automobile dealers to make certain disclosures for predelivery services. Even so, the court denied Harrison's class certification motion, entered judgment for Lee Auto, and dismissed Harrison's complaint [**2] because it found she did not suffer actual damages and thus lacked standing to sue. We reverse and remand for further proceedings because Harrison adequately alleged damages under FDUTPA. And when all doubts are resolved in Harrison's favor, material facts remain in dispute about whether the manner in which Lee Auto disclosed the fee was likely to mislead consumers.
Harrison bought a 2009 Kia Rio from Lee Auto. The cash price of the car included a $79 fee payable to Lee Auto for the real-time electronic filing of the vehicle's title and registration (EFF).
Harrison filed a class action complaint on behalf of consumers who bought vehicles from Lee Auto and paid the EFF. Harrison alleged multiple FDUTPA violations, asserting that Lee Auto's disclosure of the EFF was deceptive because it did not inform consumers that the EFF exceeded the amount Lee Auto paid to electronically file the title and registration.
In her amended class action complaint, Harrison alleged two FDUTPA counts on behalf of the class. In count one, Harrison asserted that Lee Auto violated FDUTPA by deceptively representing the EFF as a pass-through charge, payable to a government or third-party vendor, and then retaining [**3] much of the fee.
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295 So. 3d 857 *; 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 5783 **; 45 Fla. L. Weekly D 1038; 2020 WL 2054612
BEATRICE HARRISON, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Appellant, v. LEE AUTO HOLDINGS, INC., d/b/a LEE BUICK GMC, and LEE NISSAN, Appellee.
Prior History: [**1] On appeal from the Circuit Court for Okaloosa County. Terrance R. Ketchel, Judge.
Harrison v. Lee Auto Holdings Inc., 233 So. 3d 1289, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 676 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Jan. 22, 2018)
consumers, pass-through, disclosure, actual damage, trial court, summary judgment, electronic, deceptive, third party, class certification, amended complaint, registration, Charges, lack standing, class action, cash price, mislead, titling, material fact, predelivery, disclose, port
Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices, State Regulation, Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appropriateness, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Appellate Review, Certification of Classes, Prerequisites for Class Action, Typicality, Transportation Law, Private Vehicles, Vehicle Registration, Fees & Taxes, Sales & Transfer of Ownership, Title, Trade Practices & Unfair Competition, State Regulation, Scope, Genuine Disputes, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Intent, Trials, Jury Trials, Province of Court & Jury, Regulated Practices, Private Actions, Remedies, Claims