Question: I am buying a horse in Florida, should I obtain a bill of sale? Florida has very strict provisions governing horse sales. The Florida Administrative Code, Section 5H-26.004 Bill of Sale, requires that the sale or purchase of a horse must be accompanied by a bill of sale that includes, among other items, 1-The name, address, and signature of the purchaser, owner, and agents; 2-the breed and registry status of the horse (if known); 3-the age of the horse (if known); 4-the date of sale; 5-the purchase price of the horse; as well as statements pertaining to the owner’s capacity to transfer ownership interest and title to the animal and regarding representations and warranties as to age, medical conditions and treatments, and any liens or encumbrances on the animal. The law also places the burden on the owner/owner’s agent to disclose any drugs or treatments to the horse prior to sale.
Question: What happens if one fails to comply with the law? Failure to comply with the law can subject an individual to civil penalties ($10,000.00 per violation), attorneys’ fees and costs, and a lawsuit by the aggrieved party. It may be considered violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Question: I bought a horse and was not provided a bill of sale and the seller made misrepresentations about the horse sold–what should my next steps be? As noted above, Florida has some very buyer-friendly laws which may be conducive to a lawsuit. (e.g. causes of action may include but are not limited to rescission, detrimental reliance, fraudulent inducement, violation of the FL law on horse bills of sales, and the violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. However, the aggrieved party may want to perform a cost benefit analysis (the value of the horse versus the cost of filing and litigating a lawsuit, the latter of which may be substantial if the parties engage in discovery, motions hearing, and end up going to trial). A first and potentially effective next step may be obtaining counsel to advise the seller in writing that he/she failed to comply with Florida law noting the potential repercussions of the violation(s).