Brannock & Humphries Helps Obtain Important Decision On FDUTPA Claims

Ruling in favor of Brannock & Humphries’ client, the Second District Court of Appeal issued a precedent-setting ruling today about the scope of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).

The case centered on the amounts charged by medical record companies.  Florida law sets the rates that these companies can charge.  Those rates vary based on whether the patient him or herself is requesting the records or whether the records are being requested by another entity.  When patients request their own medical records, Florida law limits the charges to twenty-five-cents per page.  Despite this limitation, some companies charge four times that limit when the records are requested by lawyers on behalf of the patients.

A prior decision confirmed that the companies are limited to the twenty-five-cent rate whether the records are requested by a patient or by the patient’s lawyer.  Nevertheless, the defendant-company in this case continued to quadruple charge for the records.  The issue presented to the appellate court as part of a class action challenging the quadruple overcharge was whether it not only violates the technical rule about the rates that can be charged, but whether this quadruple overcharge also constitutes a FDUTPA violation.

One of the purposes of FDUPTA is to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive trade practices.  Although there is much precedent on what is a “deceptive” practice, there is relatively scant law on what types of practices are considered “unfair.”  The Second District’s decision in this case, determining that intentionally overcharging patients for their own medical records is one such “unfair” practice, will provide useful precedent for future FDUTPA cases.