A Fine Line: The California Supreme Court Bars Statutory Trebling Of Restitutionary Awards In Private Party UCL Actions For Predatory Conduct Against Elders

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The California Supreme Court has, for now, stymied one effort to extend the application of a treble recovery statute beyond its apparent purpose – to increase fines or penalties for predatory practices targeting senior citizens and disabled persons. In Clark v. Superior Court (Nat’l Western Life Ins.) (2010) 112 Cal. Rptr.3d 876 (Clark), the court last month held that the plaintiffs in a private action seeking restitution of money lost through such predatory practices were not seeking a form of penalty, and thus were not entitled to invoke Civil Code section 3345 to increase their monetary recovery. As explained in this article, however, the final chapter on creative use of section 3345 by the plaintiffs’ bar probably has not yet been written.

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