The UCL Practitioner
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
New decision mentions Prop. 64 in footnote: Consumer Cause, Inc. v. Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets, Inc.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Seven) issued an opinion with the following footnote:
Consumer Cause did not allege it had actually purchased the products at issue or had otherwise been exposed to them. Because Consumer Cause’s right to initiate the lawsuit is not at issue on appeal, we need not address the November 2004 amendments to the requirements for standing to sue under the unfair competition law (see Initiative Measure (Proposition 64, § 3) approved November 2, 2004, effective November 3, 2004), or determine whether those amendments are retroactive.
Consumer Cause, Inc. v. Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Mar. 7, 2005) (slip op. at 3 n.4). The decision itself is quite interesting. It held that the trial court properly declined to award attorney's fees to a class action objector whose involvement completely scuttled the settlement and eventually prompted the plaintiff to dismiss the entire action without prejudice. Under such circumstances, the appellate court held, the objector did not confer a "substantial benefit" on anyone. The lesson to class action objectors: Be careful what you wish for. In all seriousness, this decision will probably encourage objectors to become involved in strong cases with strong settlements, in which the objector's participation is unlikely to intimidate the parties, but discourage objectors from becoming involved in weaker cases, in which the objection might do some real good. As the decision concludes, "providing assistance to the court in its effort to protect class members from unfair settlements, while laudable, alone is not a sufficient basis for recovery of attorney fees. The objector's efforts must also produce significant benefit to the class of passive beneficiaries from whom it seeks payment of its fees." Slip op. at 12.
On what grounds could Prop 64 be considered a denial of due process if applied retroactively?
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