Auto dealers and manufacturers are major operations that send an enormous amount of complex machines into the stream of commerce every day. While this is a lucrative and important business, it can leave its participants vulnerable to a variety of litigation - a primary form being class action lawsuits. Class actions serve as a powerful tool for plaintiffs against even the most wealthy and powerful defendants. However, class actions come with a number of hurdles for plaintiffs to overcome in bringing a case, and a recent California Supreme Court decision just lowered the bar on one of them.
Plaintiffs alleging that pre-owned vehicles are “lemons” have long vexed new car dealers as the law does not explicitly require manufacturers to indemnify the dealer in these cases. However, a recent Courts of Appeal case may provide relief in some situations, as the Court found that manufacturers step into the shoes of retailers when they offer an express warranty for a used vehicle. Because manufacturers offer such warranties for certified pre-owned vehicles, this case may expand the number of cases in which manufacturers indemnify dealers.
Many California automobile dealers will recall the Court of Appeal’s holding in the 2015 case Benson v. Southern California Auto Sales, Inc. (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1198, wherein the court concluded that attorneys’ fees and costs are not awardable to a plaintiff after a dealership offers an appropriate and timely correction in response to a Consumer Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) demand. Since then, California courts have continued to identify situations they deem are distinguishable from Benson, chipping away at the dealer-friendly holding in Benson.
There has been a wave of lawsuits and demand letters from plaintiffs claiming that websites that are not accessible to people with disabilities violate the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) in recent years. A number of cases in 2019, including Robles v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, tested whether the ADA applies to websites. The growing body of case law is making clear that, at least in California and the broader Ninth Circuit, the ADA does apply to at least some websites.
Earlier in 2019, a published decision served as a reminder of the Department of Motor Vehicles’ (“DMV”) licensing board’s dedication to ensuring that license holders comply with applicable law, and refrain from actions it views as abusive of consumers. In Front Line Motor Cars v. Webb, 35 Cal. App. 5th 153 (2019)) the DMV prevailed on appeal in a challenge to its conditional revocation of a used car dealer’s license. The licensing board conditionally revoked the license on the basis that the dealer had violated the Rees Levering Auto Sales Finance Act (“Rees-Levering”) by refusing to return the purchaser’s down payments after it could not obtain financing on conditional sales contracts. The Dealer filed a writ petition challenging the DMV licensing board’s revocation of its license in Orange County Superior Court, lost, and appealed from the denial of its writ.
Scali Rasmussen was delighted to participate in one of our favorite events, the Los Angeles County Department of Public and Social Services (DPSS) Adopt-a-Family Program. Everyone in our firm contributes a gift, money or time to make sure a family has a happy holiday. We spend one afternoon wrapping all the gifts, and then on a Saturday in late December as many of us as possible go to the family’s home to deliver everything. It’s always a joyous day, and we were so glad to be able to do this again.
The California Consumer Privacy Act includes multiple references to the idea of a “business purpose” for the use of consumer Personal Information (“PI”). For businesses covered by the CCPA, it is crucial to understand what “business purpose” means generally, what information uses of the business it specifically includes, and what obligations it triggers. In short, this type of information use must be disclosed to consumers, but also is generally shielded from deletion requirements and receives other potential protections.
In his first blog post of 2020, Andrew Smith, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, described how the agency has improved its orders in data security cases. He cited seven cases as examples, each one addressing allegations of unauthorized access to consumer’s personal information.
Last week, the Court of Appeal ordered the publication of its employer-friendly opinion affirming the denial of class certification in an employment wage and hour case. In Cacho v. Eurostar, the two plaintiffs took the position that their former employer maintained meal and rest break policies that violated California law because they did not address an employee’s entitlement to 1) take a first meal break within the first five hours of work, 2) take a second meal break on shifts over 10 hours, or 3) take a third rest break on shifts over 10 hours. They also argued that, since an earlier version of the employee handbook erroneously stated that employees were entitled to a rest break on shifts of at least four hours – instead of on shifts of at least 3.5 hours – class certification of their rest break claim was appropriate. The Court upheld the lower court’s findings that: 1) the employer’s written meal break policies did not evidence a uniform unlawful policy that would be appropriate to decide on a classwide basis, and 2) the employer did not have a uniform practice of denying required rest breaks.