White v. Block CA1/5

Filed 7/22/22 White v. Block CA1/5 NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for pur- poses of rule 8.1115. IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION FIVE ROBERT E. WHITE, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. A161481 BLOCK, INC., Defendant and Respondent. (San Francisco City and County Super. Ct. No. CGC-19-580267) Attorney Robert E. White sued Square, Inc. (now Block, Inc.), alleging that Block’s terms of service discriminate against bankruptcy attorneys in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civ. Code, § 51 et seq.; the Act).1 The trial court sustained Block’s demurrer without leave to amend and White appeals. We agree with the trial court that White cannot state a cause of action under the Act and affirm. BACKGROUND A. The Act provides: “All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, 1 Undesignated statutory references are to the Civil Code. 1 citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments.” (§ 51, subd. (b).) Our Supreme Court has held that the explicitly identified bases of discrimination—sex, race, religion, etc.—are merely illustrative, not exclusive. (Koebke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club (2005) 36 Cal.4th 824, 839 (Koebke).) B. Block offers an internet service that allows individuals and businesses to accept credit card payments without directly opening their own merchant account with a Visa or MasterCard member bank. Block’s terms of service state that when a user creates an account, the user agrees to “ ‘not accept payments in connection with the following businesses or business activities: (1) any illegal activity or goods, . . . (3) credit counseling or credit repair agencies, . . . (14) betting, including lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, off-track betting, and wagers at races, . . . (19) high-risk products and services, including telemarketing sales, . . . (21) adult entertainment oriented products or services . . . , (22) sales of . . . firearms . . . , (27) escort services, or (28) bankruptcy attorneys or collection agencies engaged in the collection of debt.’ ” (Italics added.) White’s operative complaint alleges that he intended to sign up for and use Block’s service. Every day for several years, White visited Block’s website and carefully reviewed its terms of service. White acknowledges that there is no standard definition of “bankruptcy attorney” and that many who might be considered bankruptcy attorneys (under a broad definition) can use Block to process payments for business activities (including legal services) that are not bankruptcy- or debt-related. However, because White intended to use Block’s services for his …

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