PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 23 left undisturbed a lower federal court’s “legally sound, if imperfect” order certifying a narrower class in a lawsuit alleging that a life insurer’s informational documents of potential investment earnings violated California’s unfair competition law (UCL) (Joyce Walker, et al. v. Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, No. 19-55241, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 8983).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on March 4 dismissed with prejudice insureds’ claims alleging that their homeowners insurer’s undervaluation of insurance policy values was negligent, fraudulent and the product of a conspiracy with the developers of two software programs that were used to determine their initial insurance policy value and the cost to rebuild or repair their property following wildfire damage (Brian Sheahan, et al. v. State Farm General Insurance Company, et al., No. 18-cv-06186, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37590).
SAN DIEGO — A California appeals panel on March 20 held that a lower court erred in finding that plaintiffs have demonstrated a probability of prevailing on the merits of their libel, false light and unfair competition claims arising from the publication of an article regarding the safety of a cannabidiol (CBD) product, reversing and remanding with directions to enter an order granting the defendants' motion to strike these three claims under California’s strategic lawsuit against public participation (anti-SLAPP) statute (Medical Marijuana, Inc., et al. v. ProjectCBD.com, et al., No D074755, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1, 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 233).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A class complaint accusing a membership-only warehouse club of violating California wage laws and California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et seq. by failing to pay workers for time spent going through exit security inspections must stay in federal court as the penalties for one claim alone may go as high as $70 million, a California federal judge ruled March 10, denying the lead plaintiff’s motion to remand (Megan Rough, et al. v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al., No. 19-1340, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41545).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on March 12 entered a preliminary injunction barring arbitration proceedings in a federal court in Ohio between Matco Tools Corp. and two franchisees who complain that they are being wrongfully treated as independent contractors as opposed to employees, finding that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence of the likelihood of success on their argument that provisions in a distribution agreement between the parties may render it unenforceable (Emanuel Aguilera, et al. v. Matco Tools Corp., No. 19-01576, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43283).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 13 held that a plaintiff has not alleged any violations of California's automatic renewal law (ARL) that would support her claim for unlawful or unfair business practices against the publisher of People Magazine, dismissing the putative class action complaint with prejudice (Linda Hall v. Time, Inc., et al. No. 19-01153, C.D. Calif., Southern Div., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44149).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 9 refused to dismiss a plaintiff’s California unfair competition law (UCL) claim for an “unlawful” act or practice to the extent that it is based upon SharkNinja Operating LLC’s purported violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty acts, further granting in part and denying in part SharkNinja’s motion to dismiss claims in a consumer class action alleging that it knowingly sold defective Ninja Blenders to consumers (Krystal Wallace v. SharkNinja Operating, LLC, No. 18-05221, N.D Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40594).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on March 12 granted in part an employer’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ California unfair competition law claim to the extent that they continue to seek nonrestitutionary relief, further granting in part and denying in part the employer’s motion to dismiss the California Labor Code claims (Yoshira Barajas, et al. v. Carriage Services, Inc., No. 19-02035, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44057).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on March 11 held that at this juncture, a plaintiff can seek damages for breach of contract and remedies under California’s unfair competition law (UCL) as alternative theories of recovery in his lawsuit against his life insurer but dismissed without prejudice an elder abuse claim based on fraud and a bad faith claim to the extent that the plaintiff seeks to recover in tort (Viesturs Petersons v. Transamerica Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 20-00661, C.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43304).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A beneficiary of a life insurance policy filed a class action complaint on March 10 in a California federal court, alleging claims for declaratory relief, breach of contract, unfair competition and financial elder abuse against a life insurer for its purported refusal to comply with the mandatory provisions of California Insurance Code and common law that regulates the lapse and termination of life insurance policies (Sheryl Clark, et al. v. Transamerica Life Insurance Company, No. 20-00539, E.D. Calif.)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal magistrate judge in California on March 2 dismissed a homeowner’s claims under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), California Business and Professions Code Section 17200, et seq., and Homeowners Bill of Rights (HBOR), finding that the amended complaint asserting a nonjudicial mortgage foreclosure does not allege any actual damages (Donald Catherine v. Wells Fargo Bank N.A., No. 19-1487, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36774).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 6 issued a redacted public version of a Feb. 11 order that deferred ruling on a plaintiff’s motion under California’s Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP) and granted with leave to amend the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaims for unlawful and unfair business practices, unjust enrichment, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage (Pinnacle Ventures LLC, et al. v. Bertelsmann Education Services LLC, No. 18-03412, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39567).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge in California on March 3 held that nonconforming soils used by a general contractor insured to fill levees in a flood construction project constitute “defective materials” under a builders’ risk insurance policy's “cost of making good” exclusion, further finding that the definition of “professional loss” under a professional liability insurance policy excluded the insured’s claimed loss (Brosamer & Wall, Inc. v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company, No. 19-872, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37589).
LOS ANGELES — A musician and his production company’s failure to show actual damages in his case bringing California unfair competition law (UCL), breach of contract and other claims against his record label over royalties dooms his typicality showing for the purposes of class certification, a federal judge in California ruled Feb. 27, declining the plaintiffs’ requests to delay the ruling until further discovery has been completed (Leonard Williams v. Warner Music Group Corp., No. 18-9691, C.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 18 ordered the dismissal of a putative class action alleging that a reverse mortgage lender “is scamming the nation’s senior citizens and their heirs out of millions of dollars” by conducting and charging for numerous property inspections and force-placing property insurance on properties that are insured after being notified Feb. 14 that the parties had reached a settlement (Nancy Palombi, et al. v. American Advisors Group, et al., No.19-cv-2120, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Feb. 7 denied truck drivers’ motion to remand their putative class complaint alleging state wage-and-hour violations and violation of California’s unfair competition law (UCL), finding that the amount in controversy alleged by the defending trucking companies, which included all relief available to drivers for work performed both in and out of the state, matched the language in the drivers’ claims (Gregory Walters, et al. v. Famous Transports, Inc., et al., No. 19-8016, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21801).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Feb. 6 denied a motion to intervene in a class lawsuit alleging that The Hershey Co. falsely labels its Brookside Dark Chocolate products as flavored with natural ingredients when they contain artificial flavor, finding that the proposed intervenors have failed to show good cause (Howard Clark, et al. v. The Hershey Company, No. 18-6113, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20524).
SAN DIEGO — A putative class complaint accusing a drugstore chain of engaging in a deceptive and unfair pricing scheme may proceed with California unfair competition law (UCL) and other claims in court, a federal judge in California ruled Feb. 25, finding that the chain had waived any rights it may have had to arbitration (Byron Stafford, et al. v. Rite Aid Corporation, No. 17-1340, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32051).
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).