Farmers Insurance Exchange v. The Superior Court

826 P.2d 730 (1992)


Ps through the Attorney General filed suit against Ds under the Unfair Practices Act. Ps allege that Ds violated sections 1861.02 and 1861.05, enacted by the voters in November 1988 as part of Proposition 103, by refusing to offer a 'Good Driver Discount policy' to all eligible applicants. Ps seek enforcement. Ds demurred to both causes of action on the ground, that suit was precluded by their failure to pursue and exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court sustained the demurrer as to the first cause of action (the Insurance Code claim), concluding that Ps were barred from proceeding because they failed to exhaust administrative remedies available under the Insurance Code. As to the second cause of action (the Business and Professions Code claim), the court overruled the demurrer, concluding that Ps may proceed under the Business and Professions Code 'even though there is a separate statutory scheme for enforcement of [Insurance Code] section 1861.02.' Ds sought a writ of mandate in the Court of Appeal challenging the propriety of this latter ruling. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court. It reasoned that 'exhaustion of administrative remedies' is not required before an action under section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code may be prosecuted because Ps' second cause of action seeks a remedy that is 'merely cumulative' to administrative remedies sought in the first count, and the courts can more promptly resolve the issues in this case than can the Insurance Commissioner. Ds appealed.