When does a claim under the UCL accrue? When the first wrong occurs? No so, says the California Supreme Court! Recurring wrongs give rise to continuing accrual. In Aryeh v. Canon Business Solutions, Inc. (January 24, 2013), the Supreme Court examined continuing accrual, concluding that the theory applies to actions brought under the UCL:
The common law theory of continuous accrual posits that a cause of action challenging a recurring wrong may accrue not once but each time a new wrong is committed. We consider whether the theory can apply to actions under the unfair competition law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.; hereafter UCL) and, if so, whether it applies here to save plaintiff Jamshid Aryeh‟s suit from a limitations bar. We conclude: (1) the text and legislative history of the UCL leave UCL claims as subject to the common law rules of accrual as any other cause of action, and (2) continuous accrual principles prevent Aryeh‟s complaint from being dismissed at the demurrer stage on statute of limitations grounds. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeal‟s judgment.
Slip op., at 1. The plaintiff leased a copier under terms that required montly payments with a copoy cap. After noting discrepancies between copies made and copies billed, the plaintiff concluded that during service visits, Canon employees were running test copies (at least 5,028 copies over the course of 17 service visits). These copies resulted in the plaintiff exceeding his monthly allowances and owing excess copy charges and late fees to Canon. The issue was whether the UCL claim accrued at the first instance of plaintiff's discovery of the overcharge, or whether each overcharge was an independent wrong, giving rise to a new claim. The trial court and a divided court of appeal agreed that the UCL claim accrues with the first wrong.
But it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Congratulations to my colleagues on this result. Jennifer L. Connor wrote the appellate briefs while at her prior firm, and J. Mark Moore and Denise Diaz authored portions of an amicus brief on behalf of CAOC, in support of plaintiff. Jennifer's sister, Sarah, took no part in the briefing due to her demanding project defending humanity from evil, self-aware robots bent on the destruction.