Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hansen v. Newegg Americas (Cal. Ct. App. - July 31, 2018)

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes trial courts make decisions that seem totally baffling.  You may perhaps have had personal experience with one of those.  The other side files a motion, you oppose it, you conclude that there's absolutely no way you're going to lose the thing, and then lo and behold, the trial court grants the motion.

Here's an example.

Plaintiff files a putative class action that says that Newegg advertises "discounts" off of "regular" prices that are essentially fake.  The "regular" price isn't, in fact, the market or Newegg's regular price, and the "discount" is totally illusory.  Defendant files a demurrer that says there's no standing because plaintiff got exactly what he paid for.  Plaintiff disagrees, and says it's actionable false advertising.

There's a legion of cases that pretty clearly say, in my view, that doing what Newegg allegedly did violates the statute.  And those holdings are backed up by the text of the statute itself, which says that it's false advertising to post "fake" regular prices that aren't in fact the market price.  So were I one of the attorneys, I'd have thought that this was a no-brainer, and that plaintiff was obviously going to prevail.

But it'd have been one of those cases I described.  Because the trial court indeed granted the motion and dismissed the case.

Fortunately, the Court of Appeal reverses.  In an opinion that seems self-evidently and obviously right.

Sometimes the trial court doesn't see things the same way you do.

That's why we have a Court of Appeal.