Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rose v. Bank of America, S199074

Competition: California’s unfair competition law: the UCL sets out three different kinds of business acts or practices that may constitute unfair competition:  the unlawful, the unfair, and the fraudulent.  (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200; Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180 (Cel-Tech).)  Violations of federal statutes, including those governing the financial industry, may serve as the predicate for a UCL cause of action.  (See Smith v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 1463, 1480; Roskind v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 345, 352.)
A UCL action does not “enforce” the law on which a claim of unlawful business practice is based.  “By proscribing ‘any unlawful’ business practice, [Business and Professions Code] ‘section 17200 “borrows” violations of other laws and treats them as unlawful practices’ that the UCL makes independently actionable.”  (Cel-Tech, supra, 20 Cal.4th at p. 180)  In Stop Youth Addiction, Inc. v. Lucky Stores, Inc. (1998) 17 Cal.4th 553, 570 (Stop Youth Addiction), we explained the independent nature of a UCL action.  There the UCL claim was based on alleged violations of Penal Code section 308, which bans the sale of cigarettes to minors.  The defendant contended the suit was barred because Penal Code section 308 and the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act (STAKE Act; Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 22950- 22959) “embodied the Legislature’s intent to create a comprehensive, exclusive scheme for combating the sale of tobacco to minors.”  (Stop Youth Addiction, at p. 560.)  We rejected this argument, and emphasized that the plaintiff was enforcing the UCL, not the statutes underlying their claim of unlawful business practice;
“As we have long recognized, it is in enacting the UCL itself, and not by virtue of particular predicate statutes, that the Legislature has conferred upon private plaintiffs ‘specific power’ (People v. McKale [(1979)] 25 Cal.3d [626,] 633) to prosecute unfair competition claims.”  (Stop Youth Addiction, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 562.)  The Attorney General, as amicus curiae, argued that allowing the suit to go forward would “transform the criminal law into a body of civil law giving rise to private causes of action.”  (Id. at p. 566.)  We disagreed.  “Plaintiff does not contend a ‘private right of action’ exists for it (or any other private plaintiff) to proceed under Penal Code section 308.  Plaintiff seeks relief from alleged unfair competition, not to enforce the Penal Code.”  (Stop Youth Addiction, at p. 566.)
Thus, we have made it clear that by borrowing requirements from other statutes, the UCL does not serve as a mere enforcement mechanism.  It provides its own distinct and limited equitable remedies for unlawful business practices, using other laws only to define what is “unlawful.”  (See Korea Supply Co. v. Lockheed Martin Corp. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 1134, 1150 [UCL provides equitable avenue for prevention of unfair business practices, with streamlined procedures and limited remedies].)  The UCL reflects the Legislature’s intent to discourage business practices that confer unfair advantages in the marketplace to the detriment of both consumers and law-abiding competitors.
The UCL, unlike 42 U.S.C. section 1983, is meant to provide remedies cumulative to those established by other laws, absent express provision to the contrary.  (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17205.)  We have long recognized that the existence of a separate statutory enforcement scheme does not preclude a parallel action under the UCL.  (Stop Youth Addiction, supra, 17 Cal.4th at pp. 572-573, citing cases.) (Cal. S. Ct., 01.08.2013, Rose v. Bank of America, S199074).

Concurrence : droit californien de la concurrence déloyale (UCL) : l’UCL prévoit trois types de pratiques commerciales susceptibles de constituer des actes de concurrence déloyale : l’acte illégal, l’acte inéquitable, et l’acte frauduleux. La violation de règles de droit fédéral, incluant les règles relatives à l’industrie des finances, peut servir comme base pour une action fondée sur l’UCL.
Une  action fondée sur l’UCL est indépendante de la cause illicite sur laquelle elle se base, de sorte qu’il n’importe pas que la loi de base dont la violation est alléguée prévoie ou non un droit d’action. L’UCL prévoit des remèdes qui s’ajoutent à d’autres remèdes éventuellement conférés par d’autres lois, sauf dispositions légales contraires expresses.

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