The UCL Practitioner
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
AG Takes Default Against Trevor Law Group Shell Corporation
Today's Daily Journal reports that "Trevor-Law-Run Shell Loses to AG." According to the article, the Trevor Law Group used the shell corporation, Consumer Enforcement Watch Corp., to act as the plaintiff in the various 17200 actions it filed. The AG plans to prove up damages (call it "restitution") in excess of $1 million. The AG's suit against the Trevor Law Group principals remains pending. Daily Journal articles are accessible online by subscription only.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Comment on Frieman and UCL Class Actions
Yesterday's Daily Journal contained an article (available by paid subscription only) entitled "Court Insists That Class Actions Actually Be Beneficial," which discusses Frieman v. San Rafael Rock Quarry, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Feb. 24, 2004), mentioned in my post dated February 25.

I have to say that I am constantly surprised to see defendants so harshly criticize the concept of UCL class actions, as the article does. Certification of a UCL claim actually helps the defendants as much as the plaintiffs.

The most important benefit to the defendant is that certification ensures that the judgment will be binding on the class. A non-certified UCL action (arguably) does not, because it does not mandate the notice procedures that satisfy the due process rights of those affected by the judgment. This leaves the defendant exposed to multiple actions for the same misconduct. A certified UCL class action avoids this problem entirely.

Defendants also benefit because class certification requires an affected plaintiff with traditional standing, whose claims are "typical" of those of the class. A UCL representative action does not. You would expect to see defendants arguing that under Corbett, UCL claims should be required to be certified. Indeed, I have seen defendants make that precise argument in UCL representative actions brought by unaffected plaintiffs, hoping to knock out the entire case. Resisting certification does not make the UCL claim go away; all it does is make it easier for any plaintiff, affected or not, to bring suit.

In my opinion, it is always better to bring a UCL claim with an affected plaintiff and to seek class certification. That is not because I think broader remedies are available. Rather, it is to avoid the due process arguments many defendants raise in representative UCL actions. Also, class certification ensures better notice to the class, which means that more people will participate in the action and see their injuries rectified. Evidently, the plaintiffs in Frieman were focused on other goals--and saw their class certification motion denied as a result.

Monday, March 15, 2004
County Acting Within Scope of Police Powers Cannot Violate UCL
In San Diego County Veterinary Medical Ass'n. v. County of San Diego, ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Mar. 15, 2004), the Court of Appeal held that a governmental body acting reasonably within the scope of its Constitutional police powers could not violate the UCL.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
UCL and Secondary Liability?
An article in today's Daily Journal (accessible by subscription only) is entitled "California's Secondary-Liability Limits Appear Likely to Spread." Citing Emery v. Visa International Services Ass'n, 95 Cal.App.4th 952 (2002), the article asserts that "[s]ection 17200 does not extend to secondary liability claims," and that "[t]he vicarious liability limitation on consumer fraud statutes is not unique to California."
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
UCL Does Not Apply to Securities Transactions
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal held that the UCL does not apply to securities transactions. Bowen v. Ziasun Technologies, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Mar. 8, 2004). The question was one of first impression in California.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Supreme Court Depublishes UCL Decision
Today the Supreme Court depublished Consumer Cause, Inc. v. National Vision, Inc., 111 Cal.App.4th 1069 (2003), in which the Court of Appeal interpreted the Cel-Tech "safe harbor" very broadly--some might say too broadly. The docket entry noting depublication can be viewed here.

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© 2003-2005 by Kimberly A. Kralowec