In Grossman v. Capital One Bank, 2013 WL 821167 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. 2013), the California Court of Appeal in an unpublished decision found that a credit card debtor did not have a claim against the credit card company for allowing the ex-wife to continue to charge sums on the Account after the divorce decree. The facts were not atypical of this type of situation.
Plaintiff alleged that on September 20, 2002, he filed for dissolution of marriage from Mandy. Plaintiff applied for a credit card with defendant on February 18, 2003. The credit card agreement provided, “ ‘If your cards or account access checks are lost or stolen or if someone else may be using them without your permission, notify us at once by calling the telephone number shown on the front of your periodic statements. Your liability for unauthorized use of your cards or account access checks will not exceed $50.00. You will not be liable for unauthorized use that occurs after you notify us.’ ” ¶ Plaintiff alleged that another term of the agreement provided, “You can rest easy with our Early Fraud Detection Program. A team of specialists monitors all our accounts 24/7 for suspicious activity. As soon as something sets off a red flag, we’ll let you know. This system stops most cases of fraud, but just in case one slips through, you have $0 fraud liability. That means if your card is lost or stolen, you won’t have to cover the bill. Please note $0 fraud liability claims are subject to verification.” ¶ According to plaintiff’s complaint, Mandy and he jointly held the credit card account. Plaintiff averred their divorce became final on June 16, 2004. Plaintiff contended Mandy was subsequently removed from the account; however, plaintiff failed to state facts or produce documents evidencing such removal, in response to discovery.
The Court of Appeal found no UCL violation.
Plaintiff sued under California’s statutory unfair competition law ( UCL). (Bus. & Prof.Code, § 17200 et seq.) “A UCL action is equitable in nature, and damages cannot be recovered. [Citation.] ‘[A] plaintiff may obtain restitution and/or injunctive relief against unfair or unlawful practices in order to protect the public and restore to the parties in interest money or property taken by means of unfair competition.’ [Citations.] However, ‘[a]s amended pursuant to the 2004 voter approval of Proposition 64, the UCL in [Business and Professions Code section] 17204 now requires a plaintiff to establish that [he] has “suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property.” ’ [Ci-tations.]” ( Stearns v. Select Comfort Retail Corp. (N.D.Cal.2010) 763 F.Supp.2d 1128, 1151.) . . . ¶ . . . Here, plaintiff failed to adduce admissible evidence that he had sustained any damages or that he was entitled to injunctive relief; thus, the court properly entered summary judgment against him. Plaintiff marked as “undisputed” defendant’s assertion that it had last received payment from plaintiff on or about April 9, 2009. This would reflect payment for charges made solely by plaintiff himself, not for any of the charges he alleged were unauthorized. Plaintiff’s account statement for the next month reflected the purchases, which plaintiff apparently regarded as unauthorized, along with credits for those purchases; it contains the 10 transactions on the “Fraud Information Form” that were apparently initially deemed to be unauthorized. ¶ . . . As to plaintiff’s argument he was entitled to in-junctive relief, there was simply no admissible evidence produced that he or any other individual was fraudulently induced to obtain credit from defendant by its agreements or advertisements. Defendant’s advertising materials indicated users would be limited in liability to $50 for unauthorized use. Its materials indicated liability would be limited to $0 for fraudulent use. Plaintiff failed to adduce admissible evidence the transactions were unauthorized or fraudulent. In fact, defendant expressly found otherwise. Plaintiff failed to complete and return the “Fraud Information Report” or otherwise challenge defendant’s findings. ¶ Indeed, as the trial court noted, even if it were to find that Mandy was not an authorized user “what damages had [plaintiff] suffered? I am at a loss to understand what admissible evidence there is that he suffered any damages.” “There’s no evidence of any damages or harm.” “There are no viable claims under the cause of action for violation of Business and Professions Code Section 17200. And the second and tenth causes of action, based on violation of [Business and Professions Code Section] 17500, fail because the plaintiff has not shown any right to restitution. All the evidence before the Court shows that [plaintiff] never paid the disputed charges.” ¶ “The plaintiff has not demonstrated any false advertising or that the public is likely to be deceived by any of the bank’s advertising practices respecting its fraud policy. That eliminates the first, second, ninth, and tenth causes of action.” In response to plaintiff’s motion for new trial, the court reiterated, “In the end, I still come back to the belief that … there is not a triable issue of fact as to damages.” Thus, the court acted appropriately in granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment.