SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Sept. 25 declined to dismiss a state unfair competition law (UCL) claim in a mortgage foreclosure dispute, saying that if the defendant did have a policy of temporarily wiping loans off the books only to later threaten foreclosure on the same loan absent full payment with penalties, such conduct would fall within the purview of the "unfair" prong of the law (Elizabeth Ann Williams v. Well Fargo Bank, No. 13-3387, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136010).
OAKLAND, Calif. - Homeowners' claims against mortgage lenders, including a claim under California's unfair competition law (UCL), were dismissed with leave to amend on Sept. 24 by a California federal judge (Celedonia Amacker, et al. v. Bank of America, et al., No. 13-3550, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134854).
NEW YORK - Plaintiffs United States and 17 states and defendants American Express Co. and American Express Travel Related Services Co. Inc. (collectively, Amex) filed their redacted post-trial briefs following the conclusion of the bench trial in federal court in New York on the plaintiffs' claims that Amex's rules preventing merchants from steering customers toward the use of another credit card violate federal antitrust law (United States of America, et al. v. American Express Co., et al., No. 10-cv-4496, E.D. N.Y.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California appeals court on Sept. 22 held for the second time that a district attorney's unfair competition law (UCL) claims seeking civil penalties for violations of state workplace safety regulations are preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (federal/OSHA) (Solus Industrial Innovations, LLC, et al. v. The Superior Court of Orange Co., The People, real party in interest, No. G047661, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).
DENVER - Granting in part a defendants' motions to exclude the testimony of damages experts in a dispute over a purported conspiracy to monopolize college student off-campus housing, a Colorado federal judge on Sept. 18 ruled on issues of untimely disclosure, hearsay and prejudgment interest in an antitrust setting (Auraria Student Housing at the Regency LLC v. Campus Village Apartments LLC, No. 1:10-cv-02516, D. Colo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130959).
SAN FRANCISCO - A college rating agency violated the unlawful prong of California's unfair competition law (UCL) through its failure to have more than one academic on a show cause team evaluating the City College of San Francisco's accreditation, a state court judge held Sept. 19 (People of the State of California, ex. rel. Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney v. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, No. 533693, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 16 denied United Air Lines' motion to dismiss claims that it participated in a conspiracy to fix the price of air cargo shipments in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, finding that discovery was necessary to determine whether the antitrust claim was discharged in United's bankruptcy (DPWN Holdings [USA], Inc. v. United Air Lines, Inc., et al., No. 11-CV-564, E.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130154).
SAN DIEGO - The makers of a glucosamine dietary supplement will pay $3.1 million and stop making claims that the product provides joint health benefits under a settlement reached with consumers alleging that the companies' false representations about the product violated California's unfair competition law (UCL), according to a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement filed Sept. 15 in federal court (Ed Hazlin, et al. v. Botanical Laboratories, Inc., et al., No. 13-618, S.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES - A dietary supplement company violates California consumer protection laws, including the unfair competition law (UCL), by marketing and selling its product as having beneficial health and aphrodisiac properties to improve male strength and performance when in fact none of the ingredients in the product provides such benefits, a consumer alleges in a class action complaint filed Sept. 15 in federal court (Trevor Dixon v. Magna-Rx, Inc., No. 14-7196, C.D. Calif.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - While a California state court correctly granted judgment in favor of an automobile dealership on consumer class claims that the dealership's former practice of "backdating" second sales contracts to the original date of sale violated the unfair competition law (UCL), the court erred in not entering judgment on a UCL claim for an individual customer who won his fraud claim against the dealership, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held Sept. 16 (Raceway Ford Cases, Nos. E054517, E056595, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 2; 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 842).
BOSTON - Counsel for a $325 million Neurontin third-party payer class settlement on Sept. 15 asked a Massachusetts federal court for $108.33 million in attorney fees and expenses, or 33-1/3 percent of the settlement fund (In Re: Neurontin Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1629, No. 1:04-10981, D. Mass.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Plaintiffs involved in an antitrust and racketeering multidistrict litigation case accusing Aetna Inc. of underpaying out-of-network reimbursement claims asked a New Jersey federal court on Sept. 12 to deny the defendant's motion to dismiss the suit, which Aetna had filed just two days after the plaintiffs' filed a motion in support of a $120 million settlement (In Re: Aetna UCR Litigation, Master File No. 07-3541, MDL 2020, D. N.J.).
PHOENIX - Even though evidence shows that the public frequently uses the word "Google" as a verb, an Arizona federal judge on Sept. 11 held that the primary significance of the mark is still the search engine operated by Google Inc. and, thus, the mark has not become generic (David Elliott, et al. v. Google Inc., No. 2:12-cv-01072, D. Ariz.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127352).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama on Sept. 10 dismissed antitrust, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act and unjust enrichment claims against the third-party administrator of prescription medication and remanded the remaining state law claims to state court (Star Discount Pharmacy Inc., et al. v. MedImpact Healthcare System Inc., et al., No. 11-2206, N.D. Ala.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126606).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California appeals court on Sept. 12 revived a state court consumer class action alleging that Apple Inc. marketed and sold defective iPhones in violation of the unfair competition law (UCL), finding that the lower court erred in ruling that a cell phone network carrier was a necessary party to the lawsuit (Ingrid Van Zant v. Apple Inc., No. H039354, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.; 2014 Cal. App. LEXIS 831).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 11 upheld the denial of class certification in a lawsuit file by customers of a diagnostic and clinical testing provider who allege that they were improperly overbilled for tests (Richard Grandalski, et al. v. Quest Diagnostics Inc., et al., No. 13-4329, 3rd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17543).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California woman adequately states a claim under the unfair prong of the state's unfair competition law (UCL) that Mazda Motor of America Inc. sold vehicles with a defective valve assembly that Mazda knew was defective and likely to fail and result in engine failure, a federal judge held Sept. 9, using a balancing test to reject Mazda's request to dismiss the claim (Lynn Peterson v. Mazda Motor of America, Inc., No. 13-1972, C.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127421).
SAN FRANCISCO - Consumers adequately plead class action claims that a solar energy company violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by selling defective solar panels because the consumers properly allege that the company made false representations and warranties about the solar panels and failed to disclose the defect and that the consumers were harmed by the company's actions, a federal judge held Sept. 8 in denying the company's bid to dismiss the claims (Michael Allagas, et al. v. BP Solar International Inc., et al., No. 14-00560, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126314).
SAN FRANCISCO - An unfair competition complaint based on alleged extortionate practices on Yelp's consumer review website was properly dismissed for failure to state a claim, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 2, noting that the putative class representatives failed to satisfy the "exceedingly narrow" extortion pleading requirements under Californian law (Boris Y. Levitt, et al. v. Yelp Inc., No. 11-17676, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17079).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California judge on Aug. 29 granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement between the State of California and eBay Inc. in which the company will pay $3.75 million to settle claims that it harmed employees and the state's economy by agreeing to not hire workers from another Silicon Valley employer (The State of California v. eBay, Inc., No. 12-5874, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121349).
SEATTLE - In addition to finding that an author failed to file his putative antitrust class action against Amazon.com Inc. within the appropriate statute of limitations, a Washington federal judge on Aug. 28 also held that the plaintiff failed to support his claim of unlawful tying related to Amazon's services for print-on-demand (POD) authors, granting the online retailer's motion for summary judgment (Rhawn Joseph v. Amazon.com Inc., et al., No. 2:13-cv-01656, W.D. Wash.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121050).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A woman's class action claims that Pfizer Inc. violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by misrepresenting the effectiveness of antidepressant drug Zoloft are barred by the statute of limitations because she did not show that she diligently tried to discover Pfizer's alleged illegal conduct in the four years after she stopped taking the drug, a federal judge held Aug. 29 in dismissing the woman's claims (Laura A. Plumlee v. Pfizer Inc., No. 13-414, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121634).
LOS ANGELES - Supermarket chain Whole Foods Market Inc. dupes customers into buying its Greek yogurt products by vastly understating on the product labels how much sugar the yogurt contains, in violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), according to a consumer class action complaint filed Aug. 26 in federal court (Chas Jackson, et al. v. Whole Foods Market, Inc., No. 14-6705, C.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES - The makers of the hangover prevention beverage NOHO cheated a former business partner out of more than $5 million in company shares, compensation and commissions by unlawfully canceling the partner's interest in the company, in violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL), according to a complaint filed Aug. 25 in federal court (Todd Blatt, et al. v. NOHO, Inc., et al., No. 14-6666, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge on Aug. 21 denied a bid by The Coca-Cola Co. to dismiss consumer class action claims that the company violated California's unfair competition law (UCL) by not listing phosphoric acid as an artificial flavor or chemical preservative on product labels. The judge then warned the consumers not to use the case as a vehicle to seek a large attorney fee award through settlement (George Engurasoff, et al. v. The Coca-Cola Company, et al., No. 13-3990, N.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116936).