An article in Friday's Recorder, "Heller Lawyer Named GC at California Department of Insurance" (subscription), had some interesting commentary by Lisa Perrochet on the Fairbanks case and the CLRA:
In another development Wednesday affecting the insurance industry, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear Fairbanks v. Superior Court, S157001, a case that could limit plaintiffs' ability to challenge insurers under the Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
In August, the 2nd District Court of Appeal held that insurance is neither a "good" nor a "service" as defined and regulated by the CLRA. Since Proposition 64 made private claims under California's Unfair Competition Law more difficult to file, the CLRA has become a more attractive vehicle for consumer lawsuits, some lawyers have suggested.
While the Fairbanks case "is tied very closely to the issue of insurance," said Horvitz & Levy partner Lisa Perrochet, "it may be that [generally] people are focusing more on CLRA claims. This may be a harbinger of more aggressive use of those claims."
The CLRA provides for injunctive relief, punitive damages, attorney fees and other remedies, Perrochet said. The Unfair Insurance Practices Act, by contrast, only allows claims under a more narrow scope of circumstances, and it offers far fewer remedies than the CLRA, she said.
I think the better way to characterize Fairbanks would to say that it might confirm (not limit) plaintiffs' ability to challenge insurers under the CLRA (given the Court of Appeal's holding).