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Gonzalez v. Drew Industries Inc.

September 30, 2010

VICTORIA GONZALEZ, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DREW INDUSTRIES INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION; KINRO, INC., AN OHIO CORPORATION; KINRO TEXAS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, A TEXAS LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, D/B/A BETTER BATH COMPONENTS; AND SKYLINE CORPORATION, AN INDIANA CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dean D. Pregerson United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

[Motions filed on 7/19/10 - NOS. 365 & 372]

Presently before the court is Defendants Kinro, Inc. And Kinro Texas Limited (collectively, "Kinro")'s Motion for Summary Judgment. After reviewing the parties' moving papers and hearing oral argument, the court grants the motion and adopts the following order.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Victoria Gonzalez and Robert Royalty brought suit against Kinro based on allegations that Kinro sold defective bathtubs that did not comply with mandatory federal fire-safety standards. As described more fully in this court's previous orders, Plaintiffs alleged that Kinro affixed stickers to their bathtubs representing compliance with mandatory testing, without any grounds to do so. Plaintiffs then purchased manufactured homes that contained these bathtubs, which were certified to be compliant with federal Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") safety standards.

Plaintiffs initially asserted six claims in their Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), including claims under the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code § 1750, and the California Unfair Competition Law ("UCL"), Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200.*fn1 On May 18, 2009, this court granted Kinro's motion for summary judgment as to all of Plaintiffs' claims except for their UCL cause of action. (Summary Judgment Order ("SJO"), May 18, 2009, Dkt. No. 349.) The court recognized that Defendants' representations of compliance with federal safety standards were not supported by any reliable records or tests. (SJO at 14.) The court denied summary judgment on the UCL claim based, in part, on the reasoning that Plaintiffs were not required to establish actual reliance on Defendants' misrepresentations in order to establish standing under the UCL. Id. at 17.

The same day that this court issued the SJO, the California Supreme Court expressly required actual reliance in fraud-based UCL claims. See In re Tobacco II Cases, 46 Cal. 4th 298 (Cal. 2009). The California Supreme Court held that to establish standing, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant's misrepresentation is the "immediate cause of the plaintiff's conduct by showing that in its absence the plaintiff in all reasonable probability would not have engaged in the injury-producing conduct." Id. at 326.

Accordingly, and considering that neither named plaintiff here relied upon Kinro's representations, this court on reconsideration found that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring a fraud-based claim under the UCL. (Order, August 26, 2009 (the "Reconsideration Order"), Dkt. No. 363.) Kinro did not argue, and this court did not address, whether Plaintiffs have standing to assert a claim under the unfair practices prong of the UCL. Kinro now moves for summary judgment on the remaining unfair practices UCL claim.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for summary judgment must be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and of identifying those portions of the pleadings and discovery responses that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).

Where the moving party will have the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for the moving party. On an issue as to which the nonmoving party will have the burden of proof, however, the movant can prevail merely by pointing out that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. See id. If the moving party meets its initial burden, the non-moving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

It is not the Court's task "to scour the record in search of a genuine issue of triable fact." Keenan v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1278 (9th Cir. 1996). Counsel have an obligation to lay out their support clearly. Carmen v. San Francisco Sch. Dist., 237 F.3d 1026, 1031 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court "need not examine the entire file for evidence establishing a genuine issue of fact, where the evidence is not set forth in the opposition papers with adequate references so that it could conveniently be found." Id.

III. Discussion

To establish standing, a plaintiff bringing a claim under the UCL must demonstrate that he "has suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property as a result of unfair competition." Tobacco II, 46 Cal.4th. at 305. In order to demonstrate an injury in fact, a plaintiff must demonstrate an "invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." D'Lil v. Best W. Encina ...


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