The UCL Practitioner
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Ninth Circuit mentions UCL standing issue
In Hangarter v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., ___ F.3d ___ (Jun. 25, 2004), decided last Friday, the Ninth Circuit addressed the standing problem that UCL claims sometimes suffer when filed in federal court:

The district court erred in concluding that Hangarter had Article III standing to pursue injunctive relief under the UCA. "Article III standing requires an injury that is actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. In the context of injunctive relief, the plaintiff must demonstrate a real or immediate threat of an irreparable injury." Clark v. City of Lakewood, 259 F.3d 996, 1007 (9th Cir. 2001) (emphasis added) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Hangarter currently has no contractual relationship with Defendants and therefore is not personally threatened by their conduct. Even if Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17204 permits a plaintiff to pursue injunctive relief in California state courts as a private attorney general even though he or she currently suffers no individualized injury as a result of a defendant's conduct, "a plaintiff whose cause of action [under § 17204] is perfectly viable in state court under state law may nonetheless be foreclosed from litigating the same cause of action in federal court, if he cannot demonstrate the requisite injury" to establish Article III standing. Lee v. Am. Nat'l Ins. Co., 260 F.3d 997, 1001-02 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17204 (authorizing civil action to enforce § 17200 by "any person acting for the interests of . . . the general public").

Because Hangarter lacked standing to prosecute an UCA claim for injunctive relief, on remand, the district court shall vacate the injunction.
Slip op. at 8543 (footnote omitted).
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