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Rose v. Bank of America, N.A

Supreme Court of California

August 1, 2013

HAROLD ROSE et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Defendant and Respondent.

Superior Court Los Angeles County Nos. BC433460, Ct.App. 2/2 B230859 Jane L. Johnson Judge

The Rossbacher Firm, Henry H. Rossbacher, Jeffrey Alan Goldenberg, James S. Cahill and Talin K. Tenly for Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Adam Keats; Law Office of Richard R. Wiebe and Richard R. Wiebe for Center for Biological Diversity, Inc., as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Arbogast Bowen and David M. Arbogast for Consumer Attorneys of California and the National Consumer Law Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Dennis J. Herrera, City Attorney (San Francisco), Danny Chou, Chief of Special and Complex Litigation, Kristine Poplawski and Erin Bernstein, Deputy City Attorneys; Carmen A. Trutanich, City Attorney (Los Angeles) and Tina Hess, Deputy Chief Complex and Special Litigation, for San Francisco City Attorney and Los Angeles City Attorney as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Appellants.

Reed Smith, Margaret M. Grignon, Scott H. Jacobs and Zareh A. Jaltorossian for Defendant and Respondent.

Horvitz & Levy, Lisa Perochet, Jeremy B. Rosen and Jason R. Litt for Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America and California Chamber of Commerce as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.

Fred J. Hiestand for the Civil Justice Association of California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.

Leland Chan for California Bankers Association and American Bankers Association as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Respondent.

CORRIGAN, J.

May a claim of unlawful business practice under California’s unfair competition law be based on violations of a federal statute, after Congress has repealed a provision of that statute authorizing civil actions for damages? We hold that it may, when Congress has also made it plain that state laws consistent with the federal statute are not superseded.

DISCUSSION

The federal Truth in Savings Act (TISA; 12 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.) regulates banks’ disclosures to customers.[1] For 10 years beginning in 1991, TISA allowed civil damages to be sought for failure to comply with its requirements. (Former § 4310; Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. Improvement Act of 1991, Pub.L. No. 102-242, § 271 (Dec. 19, 1991) 105 Stat. 2236, 2340.)[2] The provision authorizing lawsuits was repealed in 1996, effective September 30, 2001. (Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, Pub.L. No. 104-208, § 2604(a) (Sept. 30, 1996) 110 Stat. 3009-470.) This case involves the effect of that repeal on claims brought under the unfair competition law (UCL; Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.).

The UCL sets out three different kinds of business acts or practices that may constitute unfair competition: the unlawful, the unfair, and the fraudulent. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200; Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180 (Cel-Tech).) Violations of federal statutes, including those governing the financial industry, may serve as the predicate for a UCL cause of action. (SeeSmith v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ...


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