CALIFORNIA CLASS ACTION LAW

Tag: Jeffrey W. Johnson

Arbitration Clause on Back of Pre-Printed Auto Purchase Contract Is Unconscionable

Mini Maint Page 1

Mini Maint Page 1 (Photo credit: Flyinace2000)

Yesterday, in Vargas v. SAI Monrovia B, Inc., No. B237257, __ Cal. App. 4th __ (2d Dist. June 4, 2013), a putative class action, the Second District revisited its holding in Sanchez v. Valencia Holding Co., LLC, 201 Cal.App.4th 74 (2012), review granted March 21, 2012, S199119.  In Sanchez the court held that a “Retail Installment Sale Contract” used to purchase an automobile is unconscionable and unenforceable.  In Vargas, the court again concluded that the identical sale contract does not require the arbitration of disputes between a purchaser and a car dealer because it is permeated by unconscionability.

The arbitration provision, entitled, “ARBITRATION CLAUSE,” was on the back at the bottom of the page, outlined by a black box; the arbitration provision was the last provision in the Sale Contract concerning the purchase of the vehicle; a provision related to the assignment of the contract appeared below it. The buyers’ final signatures appeared near the bottom of the front side. The only signature line on the back was at the very bottom of the page; it required the seller’s signature to assign the contract to a third party.

Slip Op. at 3.

The court found that the arbitration provision satisfies the two elements of procedural unconscionability: oppression and surprise. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amending Attorneys’ Fees Allegation in Midst of Trial Found Prejudicial

Late

Late (Photo credit: Tom Bech)

The Second District held today that it is an abuse of discretion to permit an amendment to a complaint on the fourth day of a five-day trial.  Duchrow v. Forrest, __ Cal. App. 4th __, No. B233736 (2d Dist. Apr. 30, 2013).  The Court found that there was no reason the amendment could not have been made sooner, and that prejudice existed because, among other things, the amendment “changed the damages sought from $44,082.22, as pleaded in the complaint, to $312,260 in attorney fees and $16,851.95 in costs under the Litigation Agreement, plus an additional $27,777.36 in attorney fees and $8,155.13 in accrued interest under the Administrative Agreement, for a total of $365,044.44.”

 

You can read more here.

 

By CHARLES H. JUNG

 

Second District Holds That Omission of Source of Base Price From Which Discount Taken Is Harmless

A Restoration Hardware store in Naperville, Il...
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The Second District Court of Appeal, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor a Restoration Hardware, Inc. (RHI) for alleged misrepresentations of the price of RHI’s merchandise at its discount outlet stores.  Heller v. Restoration Hardware, Inc.,  B215218, 2010 WL 3387506 (Cal. Ct. App. 2d Dist. Aug. 30, 2010).   Plaintiff alleged that RHI outlet stores engaged in a practice of misrepresenting the actual discounts given on furniture.  Id. *1.  Plaintiff contended she purchased at an outlet store an advertised “Del Mar” outdoor chair, which had an original retail price of $750 from which a percentage discount was taken, when in fact the price in RHI’s catalog and on the internet at its website was $685.  Id. Plaintiff’s complaint stated five causes of action: violations of the UCL, the FAL, the CLRA, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud and deceit.

The court affirmed, holding: Read the rest of this entry »