On Wednesday, in Hodge v. Superior Court, ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Nov. 29, 2006), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Eight), confirmed that UCL claims are equitable and carry no right to a jury trial. (Coincidentally, I made this exact point in a post three days ago.) In so holding, it rejected the argument that when a plaintiff pursues a UCL "unlawful" prong claim, the Court should look at whether the "borrowed" law carries a jury trial right. Instead, the focus should be on the UCL claim and its available remedies, which are equitable. (This holding is consistent with my recent post explaining that the UCL's "unlawful" prong only borrows the liability principles, not the remedies.) The Court also held that the assertion of non-equitable affirmative defenses does not alter the analysis of whether a claim carries the right to a jury trial.
As a final interesting point, it appears that in this case the plaintiffs wanted the bench trial, while the defendants asked for a jury:
[P]laintiffs amended the complaint to state only a cause of action for violation of section 17200. Plaintiffs’ stated rationale was strategic: they wanted a bench trial instead of a jury trial.
Slip op. at 3. In my experience, the reverse is usually true. In this case, the fact that a prior attempt to try the case to a jury resulted in a mistrial probably explains it. Thanks to the readers who emailed me about this case.