In a case sure to be discussed at today's conference (same-day registration available!), the Court of Appeal examined Prop. 64's "injury in fact" language in depth. Meyer v. Sprint Spectrum, L.P., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (May 16, 2007). The Meyer plaintiffs alleged that "Sprint improperly included certain illegal and unconscionable terms in its customer service agreement. Plaintiffs did not allege Sprint had asserted or threatened to assert those terms against them." Slip op. at 2. The Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) held that the plaintiffs lacked standing to assert either a UCL or a CLRA claim.
With respect to the UCL claim, the Court of Appeal determined that the language "'injury in fact' and 'lost money or property as a result of [the alleged] unfair competition'' creates a "two-part, statutory standing test." Id. The entire decision is worth reading, but the following excerpt is of particular interest:
The cases decided since Proposition 64 changed the language of section 17204 have concluded a plaintiff suffers an injury in fact for purposes of standing under the UCL when he or she has:
(1) expended money due to the defendant’s acts of unfair competition (Aron v. U-Haul Co. of California (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 796, 802-803 [plaintiff alleged he was required to purchase excess fuel when returning rental truck]; Monarch Plumbing Co. v. Ranger Ins. Co. (E.D.Cal., Sept. 25, 2006, No. Civ. S-06-1357) 2006 U.S.Dist. Lexis 68850, *20 [plaintiff alleged he paid higher insurance premiums because of defendant insurer’s settlement policies]; Witriol v. LexisNexis Group (N.D.Cal., Feb. 10, 2006, No. C05?02392) 2006 U.S.Dist. Lexis 26670, *18-19 [plaintiff incurred costs to monitor and repair damage to his credit caused by defendants’ unauthorized release of private information]; Southern California Housing Rights Center v. Los Feliz Towers Homeowners Assn. Bd. (C.D.Cal. 2005) 426 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1069 [housing rights center lost financial resources and diverted staff time investigating case against defendants]; Laster v. T-Mobile USA, Inc. (S.D.Cal. 2005) 407 F.Supp.2d 1181, 1194 [defendants advertised cellular phones as free or substantially discounted when purchased with cellular telephone service, but plaintiffs were required to pay sales tax on the full retail value of the phones]);
(2) lost money or property (Huntingdon Life Sciences, Inc. v. Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA, Inc. (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 1228, 1240, 1262 [plaintiff’s home and car were vandalized by animal rights protestors]);
(3) been denied money to which he or she has a cognizable claim (Progressive West Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 263, 269-270, 285, fn. 5 [insurance company paid insured’s medical bills, then sued to recover that money when insured collected damages from the third party who caused his injuries; insured had standing to bring UCL claim against insurance company]; Starr-Gordon v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co. (E.D.Cal., Nov. 7, 2006, No. Civ. S-03-68) 2006 U.S.Dist. Lexis 83110, *1, 18-19 [plaintiff challenged the process by which defendant terminated her disability benefits]).
Unlike the plaintiffs in the foregoing cases, plaintiffs here have not suffered any injury in fact. They have not been required to pay any money out of their own pockets (other than the fees they paid for their cellular telephone service), they have not lost money or property, and they have not been denied any money that they can allege is rightfully theirs.
Id. at 6-7.