The Court of Appeal reached opposite conclusions in two opinions addressing the UCL economic abstention doctrine this year. (See this blog post for more on that doctrine.)
In Willard v. AT&T Communications of Cal., Inc., ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (Mar. 6, 2012), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Five) held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in declining to entertain the plaintiff's UCL action based on the economic absention doctrine. It affirmed the judgment of dismissal that followed the trial court's order sustaining the defendant's demurrer without leave to amend.
Justice Mosk dissented. His dissenting opinion argues that the court cannot evaluate, at the demurrer stage, whether the action would implicate questions of complex economic policy. He would have allowed the case to proceed to discovery.
Earlier this year, in Klein v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 202 Cal.App.4th 1342 (Jan. 25, 2012), the Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Seven) held that the trial court erred by invoking the economic abstention doctrine at the pleading stage and dismissing the plaintiffs' UCL and CLRA claims. Id. at 1361-66. Justice Mosk cited Klein in his dissenting opinion in Willard.