Appellate Court Limits Local Prosecutors’ Jurisdictional Authority to Pursue Statewide Relief in UCL Claims
On May 31, California public prosecutors and attorneys representing targets of Unfair Competition Law investigations received long-awaited guidance on two key questions. In Abbott Laboratories v. The Superior Court of Orange Co. (2018 DJDAR 5247), the court held that a local prosecutor suing under the UCL (1) may only seek monetary relief for conduct occurring within the county or city where he or she serves and (2) lacks jurisdiction to pursue statewide monetary remedies absent the California Attorney General’s involvement. The California Fourth District Court of Appeals’ opinion foretells new litigation strategies for all parties in UCL cases, investigations, and settlements that are pursued by district attorneys and city attorneys. The court’s analysis has ramifications for how defendants respond to district attorney investigations and the terms on which settlement is feasible for defendants.