Fraudulent misrepresentation is a civil offense that occurs when someone makes a false statement of fact to another person with the intent of inducing that person to act in a certain way, and the other person acts in that way and suffers harm as a result.
Fraudulent misrepresentation falls under the purview of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” There are four basic elements of fraudulent misrepresentation:
- False statement or concealment — There is a patently untrue statement or a failure to disclose a material fact. This element can be satisfied through words, actions or even silence when there is a duty to disclose.
- Intent to deceive — The party making the statement knows the statement is false or has reckless indifference to its truthfulness.
- Reliance — The other party reasonably relies on the false statement to their detriment.
- Injury — The party who relied on the false statement suffers damages as a result, which can be in the form of financial or legal harm.
Fraudulent misrepresentation can manifest itself in various ways within the realm of business transactions. Here are some examples:
- False financial statements —A company provides potential investors with statements showing inflated profits and assets, and investors rely on these statements and suffer financial losses.
- Product misrepresentation — A manufacturer falsely claims that their product has certain features or qualities, which in reality it does not possess. Consumers buy the product based on these misrepresentations.
- Contractual promises — One party to a contract makes false promises or representations about its ability to perform certain obligations, and the other party relies on these promises to their detriment.
When a party successfully proves fraudulent misrepresentation, they may be entitled to legal remedies such as:
- Money damages — This means compensation for the actual financial losses the injured party suffered as a result of the misrepresentation. Damages can include the difference between the value they expected and the actual value they received.
- Injunctions — Where deemed necessary and just, a court may issue an order prohibiting continuation of the deceptive practice.
- Contract reformation or rescission — A court may amend the contract to reflect the true intentions of the parties or it may void the contract as if it never existed.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraudulent misrepresentation, or if you have been accused of such conduct, an experienced business litigation attorney can advise you of your legal rights and help you pursue the appropriate remedies and/or defenses.
H. Clay Parker, Esq. in Orlando represents Florida companies in all types of business litigation matters, including contractual and insurance disputes. Please call 407-216-2504 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.