Wendy Hillger Goes Two for Two in the California Appellate Courts this Month
On behalf of an Ad Astra client, Ms. Hillger brought home two appellate wins within a span of two weeks. In the first matter, the First Appellate District of California upheld the trial court’s decision granting judgment in favor of an automobile supply distributor client. The plaintiff (a competitor) filed suit against the client under the “Secret Rebate” and Unfair Competition statutes. [Cal. Business and Professions code sections 17045 and 17200 et seq.] A secret rebate is a ‘kick-back’ that is made available to some customers but concealed from others, to the detriment of competition. Here, the Court of Appeal agreed with Ms. Hillger that there were no unlawful acts, as the client gave only standard industry discounts and it was not a secret. You can read the opinion here.
The second case involved the same client, who had been sued by the same competitor on the basis that the client’s sales to a third party (auto body shop) constituted intentional interference with contract. The competitor had an exclusive contract with the auto body shop. After their dealings broke down, the body shop called our client for assistance. Ms. Hillger prevailed on summary judgment at the trial court level, and this was upheld on Appeal. In sum, there was no admissible evidence that the sales to the body shop were unlawful, as the body shop’s owner needed paint and initiated the contact with our client. Further, prohibiting such sales would constrain and stifle legitimate competition and put the body shop out of business. Ms. Hillger also obtained almost $10,000 in sanctions arising out of the conduct of the opposing party and its counsel. You can read the opinion here.
If you have questions concerning the field of unfair competition, please contact us at Ad Astra Law Group.