The UCL Practitioner
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
First District, Division Five goes the other way on Prop. 64 retroactivity
In an opinion issued yesterday, most of which is unpublished, the First Appellate District, Division Five, parted company with its brethren in Division One Four, and held: "We agree with the reasons articulated in those cases that have concluded that Proposition 64 applies to pending cases because it repeals a right of action created wholly by statute and does not contain a saving clause." Wise v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Sept. 12, 2005) (slip op. at 23). Proposition 64 did not destroy the plaintiffs' case, however. They alleged actual harm, and would also be permitted to amend their complaint (which was filed long before Prop. 64 was enacted) to seek class certification. (Slip op. at 23.) Somehow it seems that the defendant was better off before, but maybe that's just me.

The panel's (unpublished) discussion of UCL "restitution" is also interesting:
The essence of plaintiffs’ action is that PG&E charged ratepayers for services it failed to deliver, to wit, replacement of obsolete gas regulators. In other words, plaintiff ratepayers paid for something they did not get after PG&E deceptively obtained a rate increase from the PUC on the representation the increase was necessary to carry out the replacement project. Plaintiffs have alleged a valid claim for restitutionary relief: through a deceptive business practice, PG&E obtained from plaintiffs money in which they have an ownership interest.
(Slip op. at 21 (citation omitted).) In other words, the UCL authorizes restitution to a plaintiff who paid for something that the defendant failed to deliver. The next question, which the opinion did not address, is how that something is valued for purposes of awarding restitution. In this case, the plaintiffs seem to be alleging that PG&E obtained a rate increase from the PUC by promising to replace old gas regulators, which it did not do. The restitution would simply be the amount of the rate increase, rather than, say, the value of the regulators.
Which Division One case ruled on retroactivity? Are you referring to Californians for Disability Rights v. Mervyn's? I believe that was a Division Four case. I was under the impression that Division One had not yet ruled on retroactivity.
You're absolutely right. The error has been corrected.
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