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Angelo v. Parker

Florida Court of Appeals, First District

June 20, 2019

Michael T. Angelo d/b/a Orange Park Auto Mall, Appellant,
v.
Timothy Parker, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated, Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.

          On appeal from the Circuit Court for Duval County. Thomas M. Beverly, Judge.

          Michael Fox Orr and Jeremy M. Paul of Dawson Orr, Professional Association, Jacksonville, for Appellant.

          Roger D. Mason, II and Elizabeth A. Buchwalter of Roger D. Mason, II, P.A., Tampa, for Appellee.

          ROWE, J.

         Michael T. Angelo d/b/a Orange Park Auto Mall (the Dealership) appeals an order granting class certification in an action brought under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA). Timothy Parker moved to certify a class of consumers who the Dealership purportedly overcharged title and registration fees. The Dealership argues that the trial court abused its discretion in certifying the class because Parker did not allege a legally sufficient FDUTPA claim, preventing the trial court from conducting the rigorous analysis required before ordering class certification. We agree.

         Procedural History

         Parker purchased a vehicle from the Dealership and was charged $420 for title and registration fees. The sales contract signed by Parker included a disclosure that the fees were estimated at the time of sale but was silent about any overage. Eleven days after the sale, the Dealership paid $403.90 to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) for the title and registration fees. The Dealership did not refund Parker the difference between the estimate and the amount paid to the DHSMV ($16.10).

         Parker sued the Dealership alleging that it violated FDUTPA by not refunding the difference between the estimated title and registration fees and the amount paid to the DHSMV. He later amended the complaint to assert claims on behalf of a class of consumers defined as:

(a)All persons or entities with Florida addresses at the time of the transaction, who purchased or leased a vehicle from the Dealership;
(b) during the four-year period prior to the filing of his action through class certification;
(c)and were charged and paid a title and registration fee greater than the actual title and registration cost; and
(d) the difference between the amount charged and the actual title cost was never refunded.

         The class action complaint alleged two FDUTPA violations: one of FDUTPA generally and the other of section 501.203(3)(c), Florida Statutes (2016). But there were no allegations to describe how the Dealership's failure to refund the difference between the actual and estimated cost of the title and registration fees was an unfair or deceptive act. This ...


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