Nationwide Biweekly Administration, Inc. v. Superior CourtAnnotate this Case
Nationwide, its principal and sole shareholder, and Loan Payment (collectively, petitioners) operate a debt payment service that claims to reduce the amount of interest owed by accelerating debt repayment via an extra annual payment. The California Department of Business Oversight and the District Attorneys of four counties (the People) challenged petitioners’ business practices, seeking civil penalties under Business and Professions Code sections 17200 and 17500, and Financial Code section 12105(d), plus injunctive relief, restitution, disgorgement, the voiding of petitioners’ allegedly unlawful contracts, costs and attorney fees. Petitioners demanded a jury trial, which the People successfully moved to strike. The California Supreme Court transferred the matter back to the court of appeals, with directions to issue an order to show cause why petitioners do not have a right to a jury trial. The court of appeal then partially granted the petitioners’ request, concluding the “gist” of the statutory causes of action asserted against them are legal, giving rise to a right to jury trial. The court held that that right to jury trial extends only to the issue of liability; the amount of statutory penalties, and whether any equitable relief is appropriate, is properly determined by the trial court.