Independent Sales Representatives Permitted To Proceed With UCL Action Against Avon

Blakemore v. Superior Court, 129 Cal. App. 4th 36 (2005)

In this class action, Raven Blakemore and several other women who sold Avon beauty products as independent sales representatives alleged, among other things, a violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). The representatives alleged that Avon would “stuff” unwanted or unordered merchandise in with products they did order and would then refuse to credit the representatives for the extra items or would deny receiving returns of same. Although the trial court sustained Avon’s demurrers to several claims and struck the class allegations, the Court of Appeal reversed. The appellate court held that since the representatives had properly alleged a claim for fraudulent concealment, the alleged practices were sufficient to constitute an alleged violation of the UCL. Moreover, the Court held that the trial court had abused its discretion in striking the class allegations at the pleadings stage. The Court rejected plaintiffs’ UCL claim predicated upon a violation of the FTC Act and remanded the case to the original trial court judge (over plaintiffs’ objections).