California Unfair Business Practices Case Law

"..The law does more than just borrow. the statutory language referring to 'any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent' practice makes clear that a practice may be deemed unfair even if not specifically proscribed by some other law. 'Because Business and Professions Code section 17200 is written in the disjunctive, it establishes three varieties of unfair competition--acts or practices which are unlawful, or unfair, or fraudulent. "In other words, a practice is prohibited as 'unfair' or 'deceptive' even if not 'unlawful' and vice versa." ' (Podolsky v. First Healthcare Corp. (1996) 50 Cal. App. 4th 632, 647 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 89, quoting State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Superior Court, supra, 45 Cal. App. 4th at p. 1102.)" ( Cel-Tech, supra, 20 Cal. 4th at p. 180.) " 'The Legislature . . . intended by this sweeping language to permit tribunals to enjoin on-going wrongful business conduct in whatever context such activity might occur. Indeed, . . . the section was intentionally framed in its broad, sweeping language, precisely to enable judicial tribunals to deal with the innumerable " 'new schemes which the fertility of man's invention would contrive.' " ( American Philatelic Soc. v. Claibourne (1935) 3 Cal. 2d 689, 698 46 P.2d 135 (Claibourne).) As the Claibourne court observed: "When a scheme is evolved which on its face violates the fundamental rules of honesty and fair dealing, a court of equity is not impotent to frustrate its consummation because the scheme is an original one. . . ." (3 Cal. 2d at pp. 698-699 . . .; accord, FTC v. the Sperry & Hutchinson Co. (1972) 405 U.S. 233, 240 31 L. Ed. 2d 170, 177, 92 S. Ct. 898.) With respect to "unlawful" or "unfair" business practices, former section 3369 today section 17200 specifically grants our courts that power. In permitting the restraining of all "unfair" business practices, former section 3369 today section 17200 undeniably establishes only a wide standard to guide courts of equity; as noted above, given the creative nature of the scheming mind, the Legislature evidently concluded that a less inclusive standard would not be adequate.' ( Barquis v. Merchants Collection Assn., supra, 7 Cal. 3d at pp. 111-112, fn. omitted.) 'It would be impossible to draft in advance detailed plans and specifications of all acts and conduct to be prohibited, since unfair or fraudulent business practices may run the gamut of human ingenuity and chicanery.' (People ex rel. Mosk v. National Research Co. of Cal. (1962) 201 Cal. App. 2d 765, 772 20 Cal. Rptr. 516.)" ( Cel-Tech, supra, 20 Cal. 4th at p. 181.) Under these broad and sweeping precedents, it is clear that the UCL could potentially provide a remedy for the conduct in issue here, if the UCL is not preempted by federal law in this context. (See Diamond, supra, 19 Cal. 4th at pp. 1046-1047.)