RLH Industries, Inc. v. SBC Communications, Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Nov. 3, 2005) (Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) is another recent UCL opinion in an action between competitors. Like Eddins v. Sumner Redstone, ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Nov. 22, 2005), discussed in the post immediately below, it involved a Cartwright Act claim and construed Chavez v. Whirlpool Corp., 93 Cal.App.4th 363 (2001). The Court of Appeal applied the Cel-Tech formulation of "unfair," holding that "nothing suggests [the defendant's challenged] policy 'threatens an incipient violation' of the Cartwright Act, violates its policy or spirit, or otherwise threatens competition. .... Even if some unfair competition causes of action can survive independently of an actual antitrust violation, this one does not." Slip op. at 8-9 (citing Chavez, 93 Cal.App.4th at 375). The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order granting summary judgment to one of the two defendants.
As for the other defendant, summary judgment should not have been granted. The Court of Appeal rejected that defendant's argument that the United States Constitution's dormant commerce clause bars UCL and antitrust claims against an out-of-state defendant for out-of-state anticompetitive conduct that impacts Californians. Slip op. at 14-16.