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Supreme Court of California
February 23, 1998, Decided
[*558] [**1088] [***733] WERDEGAR, J.
The question presented is whether [****3] a private, for-profit corporation may maintain on behalf of the general public an unfair competition action against a retailer that, in violation of the Penal Code, sells cigarettes to minors. We conclude such an action is authorized under Business and Professions Code 3 sections 17200 through 17209 (the unfair [**1089] [***734] competition law, or UCL). 4 Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
CA(1)(1) ] "Because this matter comes to us after the trial court sustained the defendant's demurrer, 'we must, under established principles, assume the truth of all properly pleaded material allegations of the complaint in evaluating the validity' of the decision below." (Lazar v. Superior Court (1996) 12 Cal. 4th 631, 635 [49 Cal. Rptr. 2d 377, 909 P.2d 981], quoting Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal. 3d 167, 170 [164 Cal. Rptr. 839, 610 P.2d 1330, 9 A.L.R.4th 314].) Plaintiff Stop Youth Addiction, Inc. (SYA) alleges, inter alia:
SYA, a California corporation, brings this action in the public interest.
Defendant Lucky Stores, Inc. (Lucky) and numerous other retailers in Northern California sell cigarettes to minor children in violation of Penal Code section 308. Many of these children become addicted to cigarettes, as they would not have had Lucky not illegally sold them cigarettes. Lucky profits from addicting such children to cigarettes because many, unable to overcome their addiction, return to buy cigarettes as both children and adults.
Approximately 90 percent of cigarette sales in northern California are to children or to adults who were addicted [****5] as children and who would like, but [*559] are unable, to quit smoking. Consequently, Lucky has unjustly enriched itself in an amount equal to 90 percent of its gross profits from the sale of cigarettes. Every dollar Lucky obtains through such cigarette sales results, on average, in more than a dollar spent on health care by the State of California.
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17 Cal. 4th 553 *; 950 P.2d 1086 **; 71 Cal. Rptr. 2d 731 ***; 1998 Cal. LEXIS 902 ****; 98 Daily Journal DAR 1765; 98 Cal. Daily Op. Service 1280
STOP YOUTH ADDICTION, INC., Plaintiff and Appellant, v. LUCKY STORES, INC., Defendant and Respondent.
Prior History: [****1] Superior Court of Alameda County. Super. Ct. No. 743347-6. Ken M. Kawaichi, Judge.
Disposition: For the preceding reasons, the judgment of the Court of Appeal is affirmed.
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