California Code, Business and Professions Code - BPC § 16760




(a)(1) The Attorney General may bring a civil action in the name of the people of the State of California, as parens patriae on behalf of natural persons residing in the state, in the superior court of any county which has jurisdiction of a defendant, to secure monetary relief as provided in this section for injury sustained by those natural persons to their property by reason of any violation of this chapter.  The court shall exclude from the amount of monetary relief awarded in the action any amount of monetary relief (A) which duplicates amounts which have been awarded for the same injury, or (B) which is properly allocable to (i) natural persons who have excluded their claims pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), and (ii) any business entity.

(2) The court shall award the state as monetary relief three times the total damage sustained as described in paragraph (1), the interest on the total damages pursuant to Section 16761, and the costs of suit, including a reasonable attorney's fee.

(3) The court may, in its discretion, award a reasonable attorney's fee to a prevailing defendant upon a finding that the Attorney General or district attorney has acted in bad faith, vexatiously, wantonly, or for oppressive reasons.

(b)(1) In any action brought under this section, the Attorney General shall, at any time, in any manner, and with any content as the court may direct, cause notice thereof to be given by publication.  If the court finds that notice given solely by publication would deny due process of law to any person or persons, the court may direct further notice to the person or persons according to the circumstances of the case.

(2) Any person on whose behalf an action is brought under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) may elect to exclude from adjudication the portion of the claim for monetary relief attributable to him or her by filing notice of that election with the court within the time as specified in the notice given pursuant to paragraph (1).

(3) The final judgment in an action under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall be res judicata as to any claim under this section by any person on behalf of whom the action was brought and who fails to give notice within the period specified in the notice given pursuant to paragraph (1).

(c) An action under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall not be dismissed or compromised without the approval of the court, and notice of any proposed dismissal or compromise shall be given in any manner as the court directs.

(d) In any action under this chapter, where there has been a determination that a defendant agreed to fix prices, damages may be proved and assessed in the aggregate by statistical or sampling methods, by the pro rata allocation of illegal overcharges or of excess profits, or by any other reasonable system of estimating aggregate damages as the court in its discretion may permit without the necessity of separately proving the individual claim of, or amount of damage to, persons on whose behalf the suit was brought.

(e) Monetary relief recovered by the Attorney General under this section shall be distributed as follows:

(1) In any manner as the superior court having jurisdiction over the action in its discretion may authorize to insure, to the extent possible, that each person be afforded a reasonable opportunity to secure his or her appropriate portion of the monetary relief.  In exercising its discretion, the court may employ cy pres or fluid recovery mechanisms as a way of providing value to persons injured as a result of a violation of this chapter.

(2) The Attorney General shall retain that portion of the monetary relief awarded by the court as costs of suit and attorney's fee for deposit in the Attorney General Antitrust Account within the General Fund.

(3) To the extent that the monetary relief awarded by the court is not exhausted by distribution under paragraphs (1) and (2), the remaining funds shall be treated under the provisions of Article 3 (commencing with Section 1530) and Article 4 (commencing with Section 1540) of Chapter 7 of Title 10 of Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure as if it were unclaimed property, as defined in Section 1300 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(f) The powers granted in this section are in addition to and not in derogation of the powers granted to the Attorney General by common law in respect to bringing actions parens patriae.

(g) The district attorney of any county may prosecute any action on behalf of the natural persons residing in the county which the Attorney General is authorized to bring pursuant to subdivision (a), whenever it appears that the activities giving rise to the prosecution or the effects of the activities occur primarily within that county.  Prior to bringing the action, a district attorney shall comply with the notice requirements provided in subdivision (g) of Section 16750.  In any action brought pursuant to this subdivision, the provisions of subdivisions (a) to (e), inclusive, shall be applicable, except that the portion of monetary relief awarded by the court as attorney's fee and costs shall be retained by the district attorney for deposit in the appropriate account as provided by law.


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