Attorney General Bonta Advocates for Transparency, Uniform Standards in Emergency Room Fees Case

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed an amicus brief in Capito v. San Jose Healthcare System, LP, a case that alleges unfair and deceptive emergency room billing practices involving a surprise fee charged to all patients. The plaintiff alleges that the hospital violated the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) with its emergency room’s practice of adding an “Evaluation and Management Services” fee to patients’ bills without adequately disclosing the amount of the fee or when it would be charged. In the brief, filed in the California Supreme Court, Attorney General Bonta argues the UCL standards applied by lower courts are unclear, and encourages the court to clarify when plaintiffs can sue for fraudulent business acts or practices and to adopt a standard for unfair acts or practices in UCL cases. 

“California consumers deserve clear and equal protections under the law,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Decisions should be reviewed under standards that are fair to consumers. I urge the California Supreme Court to ensure that lower courts have clear guidance in deciding cases alleging fraudulent practices, and to adopt a standard definition of unfairness under the Unfair Competition Law, as the current lack of clarity inhibits effective enforcement and creates confusion.”

California’s Unfair Competition Law prohibits unfair competition, which means any unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business act or practice. In the brief, Attorney General Bonta urges the court to properly apply a clear standard for what the UCL calls fraudulent or unfair business acts and practices. 

Attorney General Bonta is committed to advocating for consumer protections. Last month, Attorney General Bonta announced an investigative sweep, and sent letters to businesses with popular streaming apps and devices alleging that they fail to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Also last month, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition of 26 attorneys general in filing a comment letter responding to the Federal Communications Commission’s notice of inquiry related to the potential impact of emerging artificial intelligence technology on efforts to protect consumers from illegal robocalls or robotexts.

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here. 

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