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What is fraudulent misrepresentation?

Fraudulent misrepresentation occurs when an individual knowingly makes a false statement with the intent to mislead another person, causing the other person to suffer harm. Misrepresentations can include making false statements or representations in a contract, falsely claiming specific qualifications or credentials, or exaggerating the value or quality of goods or services.

Need help with a fraudulent misrepresentation action? Schedule your consultation today with a top business litigation attorney.

What legal issues typically arise related to fraudulent misrepresentation?

The following among the most common misrepresentations that give rise to a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation:

  • A seller knowingly misrepresents the condition of a property to induce a prospective buyer to purchase it. For example, perhaps the seller knowingly misrepresents the roof’s age or the HVAC system’s condition.
  • In an employment context, fraudulent misrepresentation may occur when someone misrepresents their qualifications, experience, or references to get a job or promotion.
  • A fraudulent misrepresentation can further insurance fraud if an individual or business makes false statements to receive a more extensive insurance payout.
  • A used car seller tells a buyer that the vehicle has never been in an accident when in reality, the car has been in a severe crash and undergone significant repairs.

What are relevant laws related to fraudulent misrepresentation in Florida?

Both statutory law and common law govern fraudulent misrepresentation claims. Statutorily, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” Unfair or deceptive acts include making false or misleading statements intending to defraud. The law allows private individuals, as well as the state attorney general, to bring actions for relief. Furthermore, subsections 95.11(3)(j) & 95.031(2)(a), Florida Statutes, govern how soon a claimant must bring a fraudulent misrepresentation claim.

In Florida, courts have recognized claims for fraudulent misrepresentation in many contexts beyond those governed by the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. This case law has been critical in establishing what must be proven by the plaintiff and what defenses are available to the defendant in a fraudulent misrepresentation case.

What is required to prove a case of fraudulent misrepresentation in Florida?

The elements of a fraudulent misrepresentation claim are:

  • The defendant made a false representation concerning a material fact;
  • The defendant knew that the representation was false;
  • The defendant made the representation with the intention that the representation would induce another to act on it; and
  • The plaintiff’s reliance on the false statement caused the claimed injuries.

When a set of facts is appropriate to meet the requirements of fraudulent misrepresentation, there are many paths a claimant may take. We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path forward to seek appropriate remedies, such as:

  • Compensatory & Punitive Damages
  • Injunctions
  • Contract Reformation
  • Cancellation & Recission of Contract

To see what actions may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What are common defenses to fraudulent misrepresentation in Florida?

The primary defenses to fraudulent misrepresentation in Florida include:

  • Defendant’s intent: The defendant may claim they did not intend to induce the plaintiff to rely on the misrepresentation.
  • Immateriality: The defendant may argue that the misrepresented fact was immaterial.
  • Laches: The defendant could contend that the plaintiff unduly delayed in bringing an action.
  • No damages: The defendant may assert that the plaintiff did not suffer any damages due to their misrepresentation.
  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations, typically four years from when the facts giving rise to the claim were discovered or should have been discovered with due diligence, may bar the plaintiff’s claim.
  • Statute of repose: The statute of repose, which requires a claimant to bring an action within 12 years from when the defendant committed the alleged fraud, regardless of when the fraud was or should have been discovered, may bar the plaintiff’s claim.
  • Waiver: Finally, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff waived any misrepresentations if the plaintiff entered into a subsequent agreement regarding the same transaction.

When defending against a fraudulent misrepresentation claim in Florida, one core strategy is to focus on disproving the elements of intent or knowledge. Disproving these elements can be done by providing evidence of the defendant’s actual intent or by demonstrating that the defendant made an honest mistake. Such disproval would likely involve presenting witness testimony, documents, or other evidence to indicate that the defendant’s actions did not induce reliance or purposefully misrepresent the truth.

To see what defenses may be available for your unique situation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

Have more questions about a fraudulent misrepresentation-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of fraudulent misrepresentation does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

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