Articles Posted in California Court of Appeal

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Plaintiff filed suit against the Bank, alleging violations of the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq., and California's unfair competition law (UCL), Bus. & Prof. Code, 17200 et seq., fraudulent omission/concealment, and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The trial court applied the doctrines of res judicata (claim preclusion) and collateral estoppel (issue preclusion) based on plaintiff's prior unsuccessful lawsuit against the Bank for breach of contract. The court concluded that the Bank's demurrer was properly sustained without leave to amend where the TILA claim was not subject to claim preclusion or issue preclusion, but was time-barred; plaintiff adequately alleged injury in fact and had standing to pursue a UCL claim, but the UCL claim was time-barred; the fraudulent omission/concealment claim was likewise time-barred; plaintiff's request for injunctive relief necessarily failed as well; and the Bank's demurrer was properly sustained without leave to amend. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Ivanoff v. Bank of America" on Justia Law

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Lauron had two Chase credit cards, one ending in 5285 and one ending in 5274. The Cardmember Agreement for 5274 stated that: “THE TERMS AND ENFORCEMENT OF THIS AGREEMENT AND YOUR ACCOUNT SHALL BE GOVERNED AND INTERPRETED IN ACCORDANCE WITH FEDERAL LAW AND, TO THE EXTENT STATE LAW APPLIES, THE LAW OF DELAWARE, WITHOUT REGARD TO CONFLICT-OF-LAW PRINCIPLES. THE LAW OF DELAWARE, WHERE WE AND YOUR ACCOUNT ARE LOCATED, WILL APPLY NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE OR USE THE ACCOUNT.” Chase sold both accounts to PCC for collection. PCC filed suit. Lauron cross-complained, alleging violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1692) and California’s Rosenthal Act by attempting to collect a time-barred debt. The court granted Lauron summary judgment, determining that Delaware’s three-year state of limitations applied and that the limitations period had expired before PCC filed suit, so that PCC was attempting to collect a time-barred debt in violation of the FDCPA and the Rosenthal Act. The court of appeal reversed because, with respect to 5285 Lauron had not established when PCC’s claims accrued nor that the Cardmember Agreement applied. With respect to 5274, the court correctly applied Delaware law, but did not establish when the claims accrued. View "Professional Collection Consultants v. Lauron" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Banana Republic, a clothing retailer, alleging that signs in its store windows advertising a 40 percent off sale were false or misleading because they did not disclose that the discount applied only to certain items. Plaintiffs cited the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, 17200), the False Advertising Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, 17500), and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act (Civ. Code, 1750) and produced evidence that, in reliance on the advertising, they were lured to shop at certain stores and selected items for purchase. As the items were being rung up, plaintiffs were told for the first time that the discount did not apply to their chosen merchandise. Having waited in line and out of embarrassment, they bought some (but not all) of the items, without the discount. The trial court granted Banana Republic summary judgment, concluding that plaintiffs failed to raise a triable issue that they suffered injury in fact. The court of appeal reversed. Plaintiffs raised a triable issue whether they lost “money or property sufficient to qualify as injury in fact, i.e., economic injury,” and whether “that economic injury was the result of, i.e., caused by, the unfair business practice or false advertising.” View "Veera v. Banana Republic, LLC" on Justia Law

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Real parties in interest, Kevin Hicks et al., filed an action against petitioner Elliott Homes, Inc. (Elliott), the builder of their homes, seeking damages for construction defects. Elliott moved to stay the litigation until real parties in interest complied with the prelitigation procedure set forth in “SB 800” or “Right to Repair Act” (Act), Civil Code sections 895 through 945.5. Real parties in interest opposed the motion, arguing that the prelitigation procedure did not apply because they had not alleged a statutory violation of the Act. The trial court denied Elliott’s motion for a stay, and Elliott petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate compelling the trial court to vacate its order, and enter a new order granting the motion for a stay. The Court issued an alternative writ of mandate and stayed the proceedings in the trial court. Elliott contended the trial court erred in concluding that real parties in interest did not need to comply with the prelitigation procedure set forth in the Act prior to filing the underlying action and in denying the motion to stay. The Court of Appeal granted the petition. View "Elliott Homes, Inc. v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Condon purchased a car. Believing the dealership knowingly failed to disclose prior damage, Condon sued. The contract required arbitration of disputes. An arbitration award would be final, unless “the arbitrator’s award for a party is $0 or against a party is in excess of $100,000, or includes an award of injunctive relief.” In such case, “that party may request a new arbitration under the rules of the arbitration organization by a three-arbitrator panel. Condon maintained the provision was unconscionable because of the possibility of a second arbitration, which he claimed favored the dealer. The trial court ordered arbitration. The arbitrator, ADR, found for Condon, ordered him reimbursed, and excused Condon from making further payments. The defendants did not oppose Condon’s motion for costs and fees. ADR awarded $180,175.34. Defendants requested ADR to proceed to new arbitration. ADR concluded it lacked authority to resolve the parties’ disagreement over whether new arbitration was proper. Condon returned to court, which confirmed the award and denied defendants’ request for a second arbitration, reasoning that the forum lacked separate “appellate” rules and could not conduct a second arbitration. The court of appeal reversed. ADR did not refuse to conduct a second arbitration because of the lack of appellate rules, but solely because Condon objected. View "Condon v. Daland Nissan, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case arose out of the purchase of a used 2007 BMW vehicle by plaintiff-appellant Michael Tun from defendant-respondent Plus West LA Corporation, dba CA Beemers (CA Beemers). Defendant-appellant Wells Fargo Dealer Services, Inc., an incorporated division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (collectively Wells Fargo), subsequently accepted assignment of Tun's retail installment sales contract (RISC) under an agreement with CA Beemers and/or defendant and respondent West LA Corporation, dba California Beemers (California Beemers) (sometimes collectively dealer). Tun listed 11 causes of action in a third amended complaint, all based primarily on his contention that dealer knowingly and intentionally failed to disclose that the vehicle had suffered "frame/unibody damage" from a prior collision, which damage Tun further alleged "existed at the time it was sold" to him and which "substantially decreased the value of the vehicle." Tun alleged he first learned the vehicle had been in a prior collision when he took it to a mechanic near his home, after he experienced problems while driving the vehicle. After a multi-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the dealer, finding dealer had not committed fraud, breached its contract with Tun or otherwise engaged in conduct that violated the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. The jury also found that Wells Fargo was not derivatively liable as holder of the RISC. Following the verdicts, the trial court granted Tun's new trial motion only as to Wells Fargo, despite the fact Wells Fargo was only liable to the extent, if at all, dealer was liable. In granting the motion, the trial court determined it had erred in ruling pretrial that Tun could not comment to the jury regarding Wells Fargo's tender under section 2983.4—a statute awarding a party prevailing under the Automobile Sales Financing Act (hereafter ASFA) reasonable attorney fees and costs—of the amount Tun had paid under the RISC ($15,700). Wells Fargo appealed, arguing that the court had correctly ruled in limine that Tun could not comment on Wells Fargo's tender under section 2983.4 because that tender could not be treated as a judicial admission of liability; that the tender was irrelevant to the issues decided by the jury, which focused on the conduct of dealer in connection with the sale of the vehicle; that, even assuming error, Tun could not establish prejudice; and that the new trial order was improper because there were no issues left to try, inasmuch as Wells Fargo's liability, if any, was derivative of dealer's, and dealer was exonerated. After review, the Court of Appeals concluded the trial court erred in granting Tun a new trial against Wells Fargo because the Court concluded the court's pretrial ruling precluding comment on the Wells Fargo tender was not legal error. The Court rejected Tun's cross-appeal. View "Tun v. Wells Fargo Dealer Services" on Justia Law

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Don Mealing, as Trustee of the Mealing Family Trust (Mealing), sought a judgment directing Diane Harkey for Board of Equalization 2014 (Campaign) to repay a loan Diane Harkey made to the Campaign, and to apply the proceeds to partially satisfy a nearly $1.6 million judgment Mealing obtained against Diane's husband, Dan Harkey. Mealing claimed the Campaign's indebtedness to Diane was a community property asset of Dan and Diane that could be used to partially satisfy the judgment. To preserve the Campaign's assets, Mealing applied ex parte for an order under Code of Civil Procedure section 708.240, subdivision (a), to prohibit the Campaign from making any payments to Diane on the loan. The trial court denied the application without explanation and Mealing appealed. On appeal, Mealing argued the trial court lacked discretion to deny his application because he made a prima facie showing that he obtained a judgment against Dan, the judgment remained unpaid, and Diane's loan to the Campaign was a marital asset that he could use to partially satisfy the judgment, and the Campaign presented no evidence to overcome that showing. Finding no error however, the Court of Appeals affirmed: Diane was not a judgment debtor, which was statutorily defined as the person against whom a judgment was rendered. View "Mealing v. Diane Harkey for Board of Equalization 2014" on Justia Law

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BMW of North America, LLC and GMG Motors, Inc., doing business as BMW of San Diego (BMW San Diego) appealed a judgment awarding Nancy Goglin over $185,000 in attorney fees and costs for successfully settling her claims under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and other consumer protection statutes. Both BMW North America and BMW San Diego contended Goglin was not entitled to any attorney fees or costs because BMW San Diego offered an appropriate remedy before Goglin filed her complaint, which Goglin unreasonably refused to accept. Alternatively, BMW San Diego argued the fee award should have been be reduced because there was insufficient evidence to show Goglin's counsel's hours worked and hourly rate were reasonable given the litigation's lack of risk and complexity. After review, the Court of Appeals was not persuaded by these contentions and affirmed. View "Goglin v. BMW of North America" on Justia Law

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A person who pays for a trip to the emergency room out-of-pocket can be charged significantly more for care than a person who has insurance. This case centered on whether a person could maintain an action challenging this variable pricing practice under the Unfair Competition Law, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act or and action for declaratory relief. The Court of Appeals concluded after review of this case that most of the claims asserted by plaintiff Gene Moran lacked merit. However, he sufficiently alleged facts supporting a conclusion that he had standing to claim the amount of the charges defendants' hospital bills self-pay patients was unconscionable. Therefore, the Court reversed the trial court's dismissal of Moran's case, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Moran v. Prime Healthcare" on Justia Law

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Evidence Code 1158 requires medical providers to produce records demanded by patients before litigation and authorizes the requesting attorney to employ a photocopier to obtain the records. Reasonable costs may be charged, subject to limits: $0.10 per page for reproducing regular-sized documents, $0.20 per page for producing documents from microfilm, and clerical costs not to exceed $16 per hour per person for locating and making records available. Plaintiff was admitted to Saint Francis for treatment of burn injuries. Operating under a contract with Saint Francis, HealthPort responded to plaintiff’s attorney’s request for medical records, sending an invoice, stating: “HealthPort has agreed to copy records for you, upon your hiring of HealthPort .... The rates that HealthPort is charging do not fall under [section] 1158.” HealthPort’s invoice included a $30 “basic fee,” a $15 “retrieval fee,” $25.25 for copying 101 pages at $0.25 per page, $10.30 for shipping, and $5.97 for sales tax, and stated “Payment implies that you agreed to employ HealthPort … and ... accepted the charge.” Plaintiff’s attorney paid HealthPort’s invoice, “under protest ∙ in violation of CA EVID CODE 1158.” In 2013, plaintiff filed suit, alleging violation of section 1158 and of the Unfair Competition Law and sought class certification. The court of appeal reversed denial of that motion. The common question is the application of section 1158 to HealthPort’s uniform practices in response to attorney requests for medical records. The fact that each class member ultimately may have to establish his request was submitted in contemplation of litigation does not overwhelm the common question. View "Nicodemus v. St. Francis" on Justia Law