LOS ANGELES — The Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) and three of its affiliates on Feb. 12 filed a lawsuit in California federal court accusing a windshield repair company and its owners of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to bill the insurer for expensive replacement windshields they never purchased and that they performed the work without a license to do so (Government Employees Insurance Co., et al. v. Winaffix Auto Glass Inc., et al., No. 20-cv-01401, C.D. Calif.).
PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 11 affirmed a lower federal court’s dismissal of California unfair competition law (UCL) and negligence claims against manufacturers of the antidepressant drug Lexapro, finding that “the drug's packaging contained clear warning labels about a heightened risk of suicidality for adolescents” (Stephanie Patton, et al. v. Forest Laboratories Inc., et al., No. 18-56336, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 4520).
LOS ANGELES — A California appeals panel on Feb. 6 affirmed a lower court’s denial of a motion for class certification in a California unfair competition law and false advertisement lawsuit brought against Public Storage LLC, finding that “substantial evidence continues to support the trial court's finding that common issues do not predominate on the question of whether the ads that class members saw were deceptive” (Cheryl Downey, et al. v. Public Storage, Inc., No. BC575661, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 2, 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 92).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on Feb. 7 denied a defendant’s motion to reconsider a ruling that denied its motion to dismiss a plaintiff’s anti-fraud claim under the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and a related claim under the “unlawful” prong of California’s unfair competition law (UCL), noting that the court’s prior order “departed from the law of the case because it was clear that it relied on an incorrect legal standard” (Jason Brooks v. Tarsadia Hotels, et al., No. 18-2290, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22035).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 11 granted California’s motion to remand its lawsuit alleging that H&R Block Inc. engaged and continues to engage in unfair, fraudulent and deceptive business practices in violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL), finding that the federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction (The People Of The State Of California v. H&R Block, Inc., et al., No. 19-04933, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24557).
SAN FRANCISCO — Less than a week before a scheduled hearing in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, two former drivers with Uber Technologies Inc. on Feb. 7 filed a notice of settlement, informing the appeals court that they had reached a confidential settlement with the ride share company over a 2014 database hacking incident (Sasha Antman, et al. v. Uber Technologies Inc. No. 18-16100, 9th Cir.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Jan. 23 entered a take-nothing judgment in favor of a manufacturer and seller of electronic storage devices one day after finding that despite having amended their putative class action complaint, the plaintiffs have failed to a state a claim that the defendant’s product packaging is misleading under California's unfair competition law (UCL), Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) and false advertising law (FAL) (John Dinan, et al. v. SanDisk LLC, No. 18-05420, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10155).
SAN FRANCISCO — In a Feb. 3 appellee brief, Google LLC tells the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a trial court properly dismissed claims alleging breach of contract and violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL) related to a purported overcharge scheme in its AdWords program, arguing that the lone plaintiff in the nine-year-old lawsuit lacked standing and failed to comply with federal discovery rules (Rene Cabrera v. Google LLC, No. 19-16466, 9th Cir.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Jan. 31 granted preliminary approval of a class action settlement under which Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will pay $6.5 million to end claims that it violated California’s unfair competition (UCL) and other states’ laws by advertising its products as “non-GMO [genetically modified organism]” and “GMO free” even though it allegedly sources it meat and dairy products from animals fed with GMO-derived food and offers soft drinks containing corn syrup, a GMO (Martin Schneider, et al. v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. 16-2200, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16365).
SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on Jan. 28 granted preliminary approval of a voucher class settlement in a lawsuit in which a children’s clothing retailer is accused of routinely advertising false “original” prices when discounting its merchandise in violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL) and other state laws (Monica Rael, et al. v. The Children’s Place, Inc., et al., No. 16-370, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13970).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Jan. 29 granted borrowers’ motion for class certification only as to their breach of contract claim in their lawsuit alleging that a mortgage servicer failed to provide them with loan modifications, finding that denial of certification of the state subclasses based on violations of state consumer protection laws is warranted because the state consumer laws are materially different and common issues would not predominate (Alicia Hernandez, et al. v. Wells Fargo & Company, et al., No. 18-07354, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15844).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals panel on Jan. 31 affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the San Francisco Chronicle’s corporate owner, subsidiary and employees in a competitor’s lawsuit alleging that they sold print advertising at prices that violated both California’s unfair competition law and unfair practices act (San Francisco Print Media Company v. The Hearst Corporation, et al., No. A152930, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 3, 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 80).
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Jan. 29 denied a motion for stay filed by a California vineyard and a farm labor contractor in a putative class complaint brought by workers who allege numerous wage violations, including under the Agricultural and Migrant Worker Protection Act (AWPA) and California’s unfair competition law (UCL), finding that no “exceptional circumstances” exist to warrant the court waiting for a ruling in a state case bringing some of the same claims against the same defendants (Sebastiana Martinez-Sanchez, et al. v. Anthony Vineyards, Inc., et al., No. 19-1404, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15785).
SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on Jan. 29 denied a motion to intervene filed in a class suit nearing settlement of California unfair competition law (UCL) and other claims that Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. misled buyers with its juice labels, ruling that the two proposed intervenors, who have filed their own complaint containing similar claims, could derail the settlement and have other available avenues, including filing an objection or opting out (Crystal Hilsley, et al. v. Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., et al., No. 17-2335, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14813).
SAN DIEGO — A California state court judge on Jan. 30 ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Ethicon Inc. to pay civil penalties of $343.99 million for deceptively marketing pelvic mesh devices in violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL) in a way that was likely to deceive doctors and consumers about the “risks and dangers” of the products (California v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 37-2016-00017229-CU-MC-CTL, Calif. Super., San Diego Co., Central Branch).
LOS ANGELES — An insured sued its homeowners insurer and its affiliate for breach of contract, bad faith and unfair business practices in a California court on Jan. 17, alleging that they “devised a scheme and plan” that relinquished adjustment of his wildfire claim to “Hired Consultants” who denied or lowballed the claim under the defendants’ “directive, consent and approval” (Kambiz Aramnia v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Company, et al., No. 20VECV00077, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on Jan. 22 denied the majority of defendants’ motions for summary judgment in a false advertising class action over their marketing of skin care products, finding that “triable issues plague” the motions and also denied as moot the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification (Kari Miller, et al. v. Peter Thomas Roth, LLC, et al., No. 19-00698, N.D, Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10854).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Jan. 8 — in a case that made its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court in an appeal over equitable tolling and the lead plaintiff’s appeal of a class decertification decision — reinstated the original 2014 class certification order in the case challenging the labeling of dietary supplements (Troy Lambert, et al. v. Nutraceutical Corp., No. 13-5942, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6391).
SAN FRANCISCO — A trial court erred when it applied California discovery rules in a case over bedding thread counts and ruled that the lead plaintiff could obtain a list of the proposed class members from the retailer he was suing prior to class certification being granted, a split Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 13, granting the retailer’s petition for a writ of mandamus and ordering the trial court to vacate its order (In re: Williams-Sonoma, Inc., No. 19-70522, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1046).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on Jan. 6 granted final approval of a class settlement between consumers and coconut oil makers that will result in changes to health claims on the labeling and a $1,850,000 payment (Sherry Hunter, et al. v. Nature’s Way Products, LLC, et al., No. 16-532, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1706).