Was the intermediate appellate court correct?

In a class action suit, the plaintiffs alleged that an automobile loan program instituted by Bank of the West (BOW) violated California’s Unfair Business Practices Act. No common law unfair competition claim was made in the suit. The Unfair Business Practices Act did not allow courts to award compensatory or punitive damages, but did authorize courts to order “the disgorgement of money” wrongfully obtained. BOW settled the class action suit by paying $500,000 and agreeing to make changes in the operation of the loan program. BOW contended that the $500,000 payment was covered by the terms of a liability policy issued to BOW by Industrial Indemnity Co. The policy provided coverage for “all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of advertising injury to which this insurance applies.” The policy went on to define “advertising injury” as “injury arising out of . . . libel, slander, defamation, violation of right of privacy, unfair competition, or infringement of copyright, title or slogan.” Industrial filed a declaratory judgment action in which it asked the court to determine that the policy did not cover the $500,000 payment made by BOW to settle the class action suit. The trial court ruled in Industrial’s favor, but the intermediate appellate court reversed. It concluded that the policy afforded coverage because the term “unfair competition” was ambiguous and thus could refer to either the common law of unfair competition or statutory claims such as those under the Unfair Business Practices Act. Was the intermediate appellate court correct?

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