I’m working on either a long post or an uploaded white paper dealing with California’s Unfair Competition Law, Business & Professions Code section 17200 et seq., but want to briefly address arguments in a UCL case heard yesterday by the California Supreme Court in the case of Pioneer Electronics v. Superior Court, No. S133794. The subject of the case is consumer privacy and the interaction between that right and the defendant company’s right not to disclose customer identifying information.
Bear in mind that California has its own Constitutional protection for privacy rights, Article 1, section 1 of the State Constitution. In the Court of Appeals’ decision in Pioneer Electronics, a consumer class action involving alleged product defects, the Court of Appeals held that if plaintiffs want to obtain identities of consumers who had complained to Pioneer about the defect in question, a neutral party would have to communicate with the consumers in question (of whom there were about 800), and the consumers would have to specifically assent to having their identities disclosed and being contacted by class counsel. The Supreme Court hearings on this were covered very well by Kimberly A. Kralowec’s blog, The UCL Practitioner. Kimberly presents UCL matters from the point of view of consumer’s counsel, but is always fair and thorough. If her read on the hearings is correct, the Court of Appeal is going to be reversed, and plaintiffs will have a much easier time obtaining customer identifying information, or at least having an opportunity to contact consumers.