Consumers Largely Prevail in Second Shot at HP in Online Computer Pricing Suit

On Tuesday, the court overseeing the consumer class action alleging that HP Inc. advertises its computers in a deceptive manner online, permitted most claims to proceed in its second dismissal opinion.

As previously reported, two plaintiffs challenged the manner in which HP Inc. advertises products on its website, alleging that HP displays falsely inflates “strikethrough” prices for its products that it then offers to consumers at a purported “discount price.” According to this week’s opinion, HP allegedly does so “to create the impression that consumers are saving money when in fact HP never sells its products at the higher strikethrough prices.”

The plaintiffs, through their second amended complaint, seek to represent classes of individuals who purchased purportedly discounted products on HP’s website in the last five years, stating claims under the consumer protection laws of California. HP moved to dismiss and the plaintiffs opposed.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman first considered the sufficiency of allegations that HP falsely advertises limited quantity and limited time offers. The opinion said the plaintiffs’ case could not proceed on a theory of limited quantity offers because the litigants did not allege that they relied on a limited quantity offer in purchasing their products. The limited time theory, conversely, was accepted by the court as to one of the two plaintiffs because the complaint alleged reliance.

In examining whether HP’s strikethrough prices are false or misleading under California’s False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, the court weighed the totality of the allegations. Among those considered were the timing of the plaintiffs’ investigation compared to the date of their purchases and price comparisons with third-party retailers. Concluding that the plaintiffs’ contentions sufficiently showed why HP’s strikethrough prices do not accurately reflect prevailing market prices, the court allowed those claims to proceed.

The plaintiffs are represented by Edge, A Professional Law Corporation and Capstone Law APC. HP is represented by Morgan Lewis.