Summary judgment awarded to Noble House Hotels and Resorts over restaurant surcharge case

By Keri Carbaugh | Mar 18, 2019

SAN DIEGO – District Judge Michael M. Anello awarded summary judgment in favor of the operator of four San Diego restaurants in a suit over a surcharge added to guest checks.

"The court finds that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that Noble House is entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to all of plaintiff’s (Kathleen Holt) claims," Anello wrote in the Feb. 28 order. "As such, the court denies plaintiff’s motion for partial summary judgment and grants Noble House (Hotels and Resort)’s motion for summary judgment."

Holt filed a class action suit against the restaurant operator citing violation of California's False Advertising Law (FAL), Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and others over a 3.5 percent surcharge Noble House added to bills beginning in February 2017 at restaurants located in the Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa.

Holt alleged a "reasonable consumer would be 'misled by the advertised menu pricing where [Noble House] did not raise prices but rather imposes a 3.5 percent surcharge after failing to provide conspicuous notice,” according to the order.

The notice of the new practice is on bills, menus at the restaurants that use them, along with signs at the host stand, lounge and bar areas and around the dining room, Anello noted.

"The court concludes as a matter of law that a reasonable consumer would not be misled by Noble House’s practice of listing menu prices exclusive of the surcharge where several signs throughout the property, the menus, and each patron’s bill indicated that '[a] 3.5 percent surcharge will be added to all guest checks to help cover increasing labor costs and in our support of the recent increases in minimum wage and benefits for our dedicated team members.'

"Accordingly, Noble House is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff’s claims that Noble House’s surcharge practice is unfair or deceptive under the (Consumer Legal Remedies Act), FAL, and UCL and the court grants Noble House’s motion for summary judgment," the motion states.

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