Estrada v Royalty Carpet Mills Creates Split of Authority in California Court of Appeal over PAGA Manageability Requirement
Motions to strike PAGA claims have been many defense law firms’ favorite “flavor of the year” lately. From holding up a settlement or causing delays in a PAGA trial or worse, forcing your expert witness to testify multiple times to run up costs to prove manageability, the allegation “Judge the PAGA trial is just not manageable” rings in my ears often like little Johnny whining “It is just too far to walk” because he is just too lazy to finish a hike up the parking lot to Disneyland.
On March 23, 2022, the California Court of Appeal decided Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., Case No. G058397, that held “a court cannot strike a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) claim based on manageability.” Estrada, 2022 WL 855568, at *1. This decision creates a welcome split of authority with Wesson v. Staples The Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021), and raises the possibility that the California Supreme Court will need to decide the issue. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will take up both cases and erase Wesson from the “histories” 300 – Leonidas Meets Xerxes Scene – 300 Movie Clip HD
Estrada holds that a trial court may still limit the evidence that may be admitted at trial in order to ensure a manageable trial, and that a PAGA plaintiff is seeking to try an unmanageable claim “risk[s] being awarded a paltry sum of penalties if any,” due to problems of proof. The Court also encouraged plaintiffs to work with trial courts to “define a workable group or groups of aggrieved employees,” including by “narrowing alleged violations to employees at a single location or department.” Estrada, 2022 WL 85568, at *12 & n.8.
Again, the Supreme Court will have to take up the split and until then Trial courts are free to rely upon Estrada. California Rules of Court Rule 8.1115. Citation of opinions (2022)
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