California Supreme Court Decides Important Consumer Class Action Case

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The expression “Only in California” can mean a lot of different things. To businesses having to defend against consumer litigation, it is usually not good. Among other things, it has come to refer to the “only in California” phenomenon of consumers bringing class actions over imagined wrongs that have caused no injury. Those days may be drawing to a close.

“As a Result of” Requires Actual Damages. On January 29, the California Supreme Court held in a 7-to-0 ruling that a consumer who entered into a contract that contains an allegedly unconscionable provision may not bring an action for damages under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq. (“CLRA”) if that provision was never actually invoked against her. Meyer v. Sprint Spectrum LP, No. S153846 (Jan. 29, 2009). Meyer is an important case because the CLRA is a much-utilized consumer protection statute in California and the claim in that case was prototypical of the sort of claim that, until now, many thought the CLRA could readily accommodate.

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