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Aryeh v. Canon Business Solutions, Inc.

Supreme Court of California

January 24, 2013, Filed



 [**873]  [***830]   WERDEGAR, J.—The common law theory of continuous accrual posits that a cause of action challenging a recurring wrong may accrue not once but each time a new wrong is committed. We consider whether the theory can apply to actions under the unfair competition law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.; hereafter UCL) and, if so, whether it applies here to save plaintiff Jamshid Aryeh's suit from a limitations bar. We conclude: (1) the text and legislative history of the UCL leave UCL claims as subject to the common law rules of accrual as any other cause of action, and (2) continuous accrual principles prevent Aryeh's complaint from being dismissed at the demurrer stage on statute of limitations grounds. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeal's judgment.

 [**874]  Factual and Procedural Background1

Aryeh runs a copy business under the name ABC Copy & Print. Defendant Canon Business Solutions, Inc. (Canon), sells, leases, services, and repairs copiers and other office products. In November 2001 and February 2002, Aryeh entered agreements with Canon to lease copiers for a term of 60  [*1190]  months. The leases required Aryeh to pay monthly rent for each copier, subject to a maximum copy allowance. Copies in excess of the monthly allowance required payment of an additional per copy charge.

Canon serviced the leased copiers periodically. Shortly after entering the two leases, Aryeh noticed discrepancies between meter readings taken by Canon employees and the actual number of copies made on each copier. When Canon would not respond to Aryeh's complaints, Aryeh began compiling independent copy records. Aryeh concluded that during service visits, Canon employees were running test copies—according to the operative complaint, a total of at least 5,028  [****4] copies over the course of 17 service visits between February 2002 and November 2004. These copies resulted in Aryeh exceeding his monthly allowances and owing excess copy charges and late fees to Canon.

Aryeh sued in January 2008, alleging a single claim for violation of the UCL. The original complaint alleged Canon knew or should have known it was charging for excess copies and that the practice of  [***831]  charging for test copies was both unfair and fraudulent. The complaint also included class allegations. Aryeh originally sought restitution and injunctive relief, but later amended his complaint to seek only restitution.

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55 Cal. 4th 1185 *; 292 P.3d 871 **; 151 Cal. Rptr. 3d 827 ***; 2013 Cal. LEXIS 480 ****

JAMSHID ARYEH, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CANON BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendant and Respondent.

Subsequent History: Reported at Aryeh (Jamshid) v. Canon Business Solutions, Inc., 2013 Cal. LEXIS 1052 (Cal., Jan. 24, 2013)

On remand at, Decision reached on appeal by Aryeh v. Canon Bus. Solutions, Inc., 2013 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4823 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., July 9, 2013)

Prior History:  [****1] Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC384674, Robert L. Hess, Judge. Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, No. B213104.

Aryeh v. Canon Business Solutions, Inc., 185 Cal. App. 4th 1159, 111 Cal. Rptr. 3d 211, 2010 Cal. App. LEXIS 941 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., June 22, 2010)

Disposition:  The judgment of the appellate court was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.


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Civil Procedure, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Demurrers, Pleadings, Complaints, General Overview, Appeals, Standards of Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Affirmative Defenses, Courts, Common Law, Torts, Business Torts, Unfair Business Practices, Defenses, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Requirements for Complaint