January 18, 2024
The California Supreme Court today held that courts lack the inherent authority to strike PAGA claims on the ground that they cannot be tried manageably. The Court emphasized, however, that trial courts have numerous other tools for narrowing complex PAGA actions, including limiting the evidence a plaintiff may present at trial.
“[S]triking a PAGA claim on manageability grounds alone … is inconsistent with a plaintiff’s statutory right to bring such a claim and is beyond a trial court’s inherent authority.”
Chief Justice Guerrero, writing for the Court
Luis Estrada sued his former employer, claiming various Labor Code violations, including violations related to meal periods. Estrada sought to represent classes of similarly situated employees and additionally sought penalties under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (“PAGA”), California Labor Code section 2698 et seq. Following a bench trial, the trial court decertified the meal period classes, concluding that the claims presented too many individualized issues to be resolved in a class proceeding. The trial court also dismissed the PAGA claims seeking penalties based on those same meal-period claims for everyone other than the named plaintiffs, ruling that those claims could not be tried manageably.
The Court of Appeal held that the trial court had no authority to dismiss the PAGA claims on manageability grounds. In doing so, it broke from a previous Court of Appeal decision holding that trial courts have the inherent authority to strike unmanageable PAGA claims. The California Supreme Court granted review to resolve the conflict.
Do courts have the inherent authority to strike PAGA claims if they cannot be tried manageably?
No, but courts have numerous tools that can be used to manage PAGA cases, including limiting the evidence that a plaintiff can present at trial.
What it Means:
The Court’s opinion is available here.
Gibson Dunn’s lawyers are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding developments at the Supreme Court. Please feel free to contact the following practice leaders:
Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice
|Thomas H. Dupree Jr.
|Allyson N. Ho
|Julian W. Poon
|Blaine H. Evanson
|Bradley J. Hamburger
|Michael J. Holecek
Related Practice: Labor and Employment
|Jason C. Schwartz
|Katherine V.A. Smith
Related Practice: Litigation
|Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.
© 2024 Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. All rights reserved. For contact and other information, please visit us at www.gibsondunn.com.
Attorney Advertising: These materials were prepared for general informational purposes only based on information available at the time of publication and are not intended as, do not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Gibson Dunn (and its affiliates, attorneys, and employees) shall not have any liability in connection with any use of these materials. The sharing of these materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship with the recipient and should not be relied upon as an alternative for advice from qualified counsel. Please note that facts and circumstances may vary, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.