The UCL Practitioner
Friday, July 22, 2005
New UCL decision: Bell v. Blue Cross of California
Yesterday, the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division One), decided Bell v. Blue Cross of California, ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (July 21, 2005). In reversing the trial court's order sustaining the defendant's demurrer to the plaintiff's UCL class action complaint, the Court: (a) rejected the defendants' "primary jurisdiction" argument (which was predicated on Samura v. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., 17 Cal.App.4th 1284 (1993)) and followed Coast Plaza Doctors Hospital v. UHP Healthcare, 105 Cal.App.4th 693 (2002) instead; (b) applied the ordinary "likely to deceive" formulation of the "deceptive" prong, despite Proposition 64 (slip op. at 13); and (c) found a way to avoid addressing the defendant's contention that "the UCL claim fails because there must be an allegation that an act violated a specific statute" (slip op. at 13 n.9). The latter contention is ridiculous. The Supreme Court's holding in Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Tel. Co., 20 Cal.4th 163 (1999) is unequivocal:
The statutory language referring to "any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent" practice (italics added) makes clear that a practice may be deemed unfair even if not specifically proscribed by some other law. "Because Business and Professions Code section 17200 is written in the disjunctive, it establishes three varieties of unfair competition-acts or practices which are unlawful, or unfair, or fraudulent. 'In other words, a practice is prohibited as "unfair" or "deceptive" even if not "unlawful" and vice versa.' "
Id. at 180 (citations omitted).
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