California Supreme Court Announces Expansive Standing Rule Under the UCL

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Since the passage of Proposition 64 in November 2004 by the California electorate, which sought to limit the scope of frivolous or “shakedown” lawsuits under the Unfair Competition Law, Business & Professions Code section 17200 et seq. (the “UCL”), courts in California have waited for the California Supreme Court to clarify the scope of standing for a plaintiff to pursue a UCL claim. In 2009, the Court issued its decision in In Re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal. 4th 298 (2009), which held that only the named plaintiffs bringing a UCL claim had to demonstrate standing, not each class member that the named plaintiffs sought to represent.

Now, in Kwikset Corporation, Inc. v. Superior Court, decided January 27, 2011, the Court finally analyzed the scope of the Prop 64 language that limited UCL standing to “a person who has suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property as a result of the unfair competition.” In a 5-2 opinion, the Court cut back Prop 64's limitation on standing, which will allow more UCL cases to at least proceed beyond the demurrer stage.

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