Unfair Insurance Practices Act Can Give Rise To Private Cause

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The California Court of Appeal recently addressed the question of whether a violation of the Unfair Insurance Practices Act can give rise to a civil cause of action under the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”). The court answered the question in the affirmative. In Zhang v. Superior Court, 178 Cal. App. 4th 1081 (2009), Plaintiff Zhang sued California Capital Insurance Company (“California Capital”) for breach of contract and bad faith arising out of the handling of her claim for damages to her commercial premises due to fire. In addition, Zhang alleged a cause of action under the UCL and for “unfair, deceptive, untrue, and/or misleading advertising.” California Capital demurred to Zhang’s third cause of action by arguing that the plaintiff could not state a private cause of action under the UCL due to the decision in Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Companies, 46 Cal.3d 287 (1988). The trial court agreed by sustaining the demurrer and Zhang appealed.

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