Doug Brown’s practice is exclusively commercial litigation. He represents clients in commercial litigation with a particular emphasis on consumer defense claims under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act ("FDUTPA"), also known as Florida’s “Little FTC Act.” He handles litigation and disputes between manufacturers and dealers, as well as federal and state RICO claims. Doug also routinely represents clients in class action litigation and he has an active practice in complex construction litigation.
More than 50% of Doug’s experience has been under FDUTPA. He has worked on several of the leading Florida cases involving the issue of causation and types of damages recoverable under the Little FTC Act. Doug’s extensive knowledge in consumer defense litigation began by working for the State of Florida’s Antitrust Unit. As the second lawyer hired, he had responsibility for several cases in the state, including price fixing class actions. He then moved to the Atlanta Regional Office of the Federal Trade Commission for nine years which included significant responsibility for healthcare antitrust matters which resulted in several of the first consent decrees involving anti-competitive exclusions of podiatrists and nurse practitioners, as well as a leading vertical restraint case involving dealer influence on a manufacturers’ policies on extra-territorial sales. Antitrust matters comprised the majority of his work at the FTC including trying a geographic extension merger in the supermarket industry and a construction bid depository price tampering case.
Doug’s representative cases include:
- Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc. v. Delguidice, 790 So. 2d 1158 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001 (reversing “stigma” damage award of $300,000, as speculative and not authorized under contract and rejecting any consequential damages under FDUTPA).
- GMAC v. Laesser, 718 So. 2d 276, 279 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998) (reversing a jury award against GMAC for lack of evidence, causation, and concurring opinion by Judge Gross advocating application of Rule 9(b) pleading standard for FDUTPA claims).
- Rollins, Inc. v. Butland, 951 So. 2d 860 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006) (rejecting a class action under Little FTC Act based on “pattern and practice evidence” holding that such evidence was not probative as to any other claim and stating that certification of such a claim would violate due process). (Co-counsel).
- Rollins, Inc. v. Lighthouse Bay Holdings Ltd., 898 So.2d 86 (Fla. 2d DCA) (reversing trial court and compelling arbitration rejecting unconscionability argument).
- Suntree Technologies, Inc. v. Ecosense International, Inc., 693 F. 3d 1338 (11th Cir. 2012) (affirming order on Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment under Lanham Act and FDUTPA on the grounds Plaintiff failed to show likelihood of confusion and other key elements).
Recently, Doug successfully defended a developer that was sued by the Florida Attorney General for $225 million under an Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act claim. Defendants aggressively defended the case to the point that the Florida Attorney General dismissed its deception claims and proceeded on an abstract unfairness theory that was soon settled for an insubstantial amount. As part of that case, Doug worked with leading economists to prepare damage models including comparative alternatives to the challenged practices that analyzed the most likely changes in consumer welfare based upon those alternatives. This modeling demonstrated that any alleged consumer injury was outweighed by net consumer gains under the FTC’s unfairness policy.
Doug has worked closely with national counsel on class action matters in Florida, California, and Arkansas in six significant consumer class actions. These cases included successful AAA class actions and a series of cases based upon pattern and practice evidence, which were uniformly unsuccessful for the Plaintiffs.
He has also worked on numerous dealership cases which were termination cases and/or objections to a successor dealer. Doug served as primary Florida dealer counsel for a leading national boat manufacturer, and has defended manufacturers in distribution issues, including claims under the Federal Automobile Dealers Day in Court Act and the aptly named Florida Automobile Dealers’ Act.
More recently, Doug has helped develop in-house advertising substantiation programs for several national companies, and has spoken on private litigants attempts to assert advertising substantiation theories, particularly in class actions, at several state and national conferences. He works with marketing departments to minimize client’s exposure to class action advertising claims. Assistance is provided in matching representations to appropriate substantiation and providing advice based on currently available “safe harbors.”
Doug has authored articles and has been a guest lecturer for state and national organizations on consumer litigation issues involving Florida's Little FTC Act, advertising substantiation, as well as consumer class actions. He is also active in the Private Advertising Committee of the ABA Antitrust Section.