Monday, July 01, 2013

Advocacy group has standing under California consumer protection law

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. HVFG LLC, 2013 WL 3242244 (N.D. Cal.)

Previous decision finding no Lanham Act standing for advocacy plaintiff ALDF to challenge foie gras advertising itself as “the humane choice,” but finding standing for competitor who makes vegan alternative to foie gras, discussed here.  Here, the court dealt with a motion to dismiss the California false advertising claims as brought by ALDF, given Proposition 64’s narrowing of statutory standing. 

The only decision on point, California Housing Rights Center v. Los Feliz Towers Homeowners Association, 426 F. Supp. 2d 1061 (C.D. Cal. 2005), held that, even after the passage of Proposition 64, an advocacy organization has standing under Section 17200 when it diverts resources in response to challenged unlawful activity. On the one hand, if advocacy organizations had standing, then individuals who divert charitable giving from one cause to another to fight a business practice should also have standing, which could effectively resurrect the “any person” standing problem that Proposition 64 sought to cure. “On the other hand, if a competitor has standing by reason of money or property spent to combat a proscribed business practice, as a competitor surely does, then why should a public interest organization not have standing for the same reason?”  In the absence of controlling precedent, the court followed California Housing Rights Center and recognized ALDF as a permissible plaintiff for the California statutory claims.

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