Cases of Interest

The latest published decisions relevant to consumer protection from the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.

Folder in filing cabinet labeled "life insurance"

McHugh v. Protective Life Insurance Co.

Aug. 30, 2021 — CA Supreme Court — In 2012, the Legislature created certain protections to shield consumers from losing life insurance coverage because of a missed premium payment, which went into effect on January 1, 2013. Soon thereafter, the defendant terminated one of the life insurance policies at issue in this case because the policy owner had failed to make a payment. The Supreme Court concluded that those protections apply to all life insurance policies in force when the two sections went into effect, regardless of when the policies were originally issued.

Person spraying herbicide in a field.

Pilliod v. Monsanto

Aug. 8, 2021 — First App. Dist, Div. 2 — Alberta & Alva Pilliod sued Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup herbicide, because they each developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of spraying the product on their property. After a six-week trial, the jury found for the Pilliods, awarding them billions in compensatory and punitive damages, which the trial court reduced to $87 million. On appeal, Monsanto put forth various theories why the judgment should be reversed. Monsanto also argued that the punitive damages awards should be stricken or further reduced because they were unsupported by evidence and constitutionally excessive. In their cross appeal, the Pilliods argued that the trial court erred in reducing the jury’s awards for compensatory and punitive damages. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. 

Image of a pile of bills received in the mail and a calculator.

Best v. Ocwen Loan Servicing

May 21, 2021 — 4th App. Dist, Div. 2 — In this case, plaintiff homeowners alleged that defendants attempted to collect a debt secured by their home, despite having no legal right to do so. They further alleged that, in the process, the Bank engaged in unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent debt collection practices. Based on these allegations, they asserted six causes of action, including one under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Rosenthal Act) (Civ. Code, § 1788 et seq.). In the trial court, the Bank demurred in part on the ground that the Rosenthal Act does not apply to conduct in connection with a nonjudicial foreclosure. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, holding that the Rosenthal Act can apply to a nonjudicial foreclosure.

Photo of someone typing on smartphone.

Smith v. LoanMe

April 1, 2021 — CA Supreme Court — Holding that Cal Penal Code 632.7 prohibiting recordings of phone conversations without both parties consent applies to parties as well as third party eavesdroppers. LoanMe recorded plaintiff's conversation with them without informing him or getting consent. 

Stock photo of paper form entitled "insurance policy".

Villanueva v. Fidelity

March 18, 2021 — CA Supreme Court — Holding that if a title insurer charges rates without filing them, a consumer can challenge the charges as unlawful in court.