Firm Wins Lawsuit Involving Website Claims Under The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act

On February 2, 2016, Stuart Shareholder Scott Konopka and attorney Paige Gillman, working with co-counsel Joe Centrich and Lance Winchester from Texas, won a summary judgment on all claims against their client, the owner and operator of popular website that publishes online criminal histories and mugshots. Plaintiff complained that the Defendants’ republishing of information about Plaintiff’s arrest violated her privacy rights, Section 540.08, Florida Statutes, and The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”).

In response, we argued that Section 540.08 Florida Statutes “is designed to prevent the unauthorized use of a name to directly promote the product or service of the publisher.” Tyne, 901 So.2d at 806. Revenue generated due to third-party advertising is not a “commercial purpose,” as required by the statute. Defendants’ actions in republishing the information about Plaintiff’s arrest and having advertising on the website did not constitute the “direct promotion” needed to support Plaintiff’s claim. The court agreed.

As to the claim under FDUTPA, we argued that FDUPTA “broadly prohibits any unfair or deceptive acts or practices committed in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” Fla. Stat. § 501.204(1). In order to state a claim for injunctive relief under the FDUTPA, a plaintiff must prove that (1) the defendant engaged in a deceptive act or practice in trade or commerce, and (2) the plaintiff was aggrieved by the deceptive act or practice. Klinger v. Weekly World News, Inc., 747 F. Supp. 1477, 1480 (S.D. Fla. 1990); see Collins v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 894 So.2d 988, 989 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004). Agreeing with our argument under FDUPTA, the court held that the images and information posted on the Defendants’ Websites were not “deceptive” or “unfair,” and the logos and other wording included on the Defendants’ websites would not deceive consumers about the information contained on the websites. Further, the court agreed with our argument that the Plaintiff was not “aggrieved” by the Defendants’ Websites as that term is defined in Fla. Stat. § 501.204 and interpreted by the courts, as the Plaintiff had no “legitimate business enterprise” to protect. See, e.g., Big Tomato v. Tasty Concepts, Inc., 972 F.Supp. 662, 664 (S.D. Fla. l997); Am. Pest Corps., Inc. v. Barco Chem. Div., Inc., 317 So.2d 789, 790 (Fla. 4th DCA 1975). Further, Plaintiff could not show that Defendants’ Websites lead to confusion among the consuming public. As a result, the court granted Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment on all issues.

View Judgement

Mrachek Law is a boutique business litigation law firm focusing on efficiently and effectively assisting its clients with offices in Stuart and West Palm Beach, Florida.