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Broughton v. Cigna Healthplans

Supreme Court of California

December 2, 1999, Decided

No. S072583.


 [*1072]  [**71]  [***338]    MOSK, J. 

In this case we consider whether a claim brought under the Consumers Legal Remedies Acts, Civil Code section 1750 et seq. (CLRA or the Act), may be subject to arbitration. The Court of Appeal concluded that such a claim would not be arbitrable, principally because the CLRA authorizes permanent injunctive relief to enjoin deceptive business practices, and such a remedy is beyond the scope of an arbitrator to grant or properly enforce. We conclude that the Court of Appeal is partially correct that the injunctive relief portion of a CLRA claim is inarbitrable, although [****4]  for reasons somewhat different from those found by the Court of Appeal. But we also conclude that an action for damages under the CLRA is fully arbitrable and should be severed from an injunctive relief action when, as here, a plaintiff requests both types of relief.


Plaintiffs are a minor, Adrian Broughton, Jr., through his guardian ad litem, Keya Johnson (his mother), and Ms. Johnson on her own behalf. Adrian and his mother were covered by Medi-Cal, which had negotiated a contract with Cigna Healthplans of California (Cigna) for health care coverage. The first cause of action in the complaint against Cigna and others, not parties to the appeal, seeks damages for medical malpractice, based on severe injuries claimed to have been suffered by Adrian at birth. The second cause of action alleges violation of the CLRA, based on allegations that Cigna deceptively and misleadingly advertised  [***339]  the quality of medical services which would be provided under its health care plan. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that Ms. Johnson received substandard prenatal medical services, and that she was denied a medically necessary cesarean delivery.  [****5]  Under the second cause of action plaintiffs ask for actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and "an order enjoining [Cigna's] deceptive methods, acts, and practices."

 [*1073]  Cigna answered the complaint and filed a combined motion to compel arbitration and verified petition for an order requiring plaintiffs to arbitrate the controversy. Cigna relied on the mandatory arbitration provision in its combined evidence of coverage and disclosure form.

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21 Cal. 4th 1066 *; 988 P.2d 67 **; 90 Cal. Rptr. 2d 334 ***; 1999 Cal. LEXIS 8005 ****; 99 Daily Journal DAR 9431; 99 Daily Journal DAR 12141; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 9431

ADRIAN BROUGHTON, JR., a Minor, etc., et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. CIGNA HEALTHPLANS OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant and Appellant.

Prior History:  [****1]  Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Super. Ct. No. BC117680. Ronald E. Cappai, Judge.

Disposition: For all of the foregoing, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal in part and reverse in part, and remand the cause for proceedings consistent with this opinion.


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