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COURT OF APPEAL, FOURTH APPELLATE DISTRICT - page 2 / 29

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Plaintiff CPF Agency Corp., on behalf of itself and the general public, sued Sevel's 24 Hour Towing Service (defendant), alleging defendant overcharged vehicle owners for vehicle storage fees in violation of Vehicle Code section 22658, subdivision (i)(2)1 and also failed to comply with section 22851.12, which imposes limitations on a tow operator's right to charge lien sale preparation fees on towed vehicles.  The court sustained defendant's demurrers to plaintiff's causes of action for fraud, negligence per se and violations of California's unfair competition law (Bus. &  Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq., hereafter the UCL) on grounds the state regulation was preempted by federal law.  On appeal, plaintiff contends the court erred in its ruling because (1) the regulation of storage fees in section 22658 falls within express exceptions to the general preemption provisions of the federal law at issue; and (2) the lien sale preparation fee limitations of section 22851.12 are not related to transportation of property and therefore fall outside of the federal law's general preemption provision, or alternatively fall within the same express exceptions to preemption.  The Attorney General has submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of plaintiff's position.

Because we conclude the state regulations at issue are not preempted by federal law, we reverse the judgment and remand the matter with directions that the court enter a new order overruling defendant's demurrer.

1 All statutory references are to the Vehicle Code unless otherwise indicated.

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