CHELSEA HAMILTON V. WAL-MART STORES, INC., No. 19-56161 (9th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff brought five claims arising under the California Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”), all concerning alleged wage and hour violations, against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. (collectively, “Walmart”). The district court dismissed some of Plaintiff’s PAGA claims on the ground that they were unmanageable and dismissed her remaining PAGA claims as a discovery sanction.
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The court explained California’s Labor Code allows employees to sue an employer for violating provisions designed to protect the health, safety, and compensation of workers. Following the enactment of PAGA in 2004, employees may stand in the shoes of the Labor Commissioner and recover civil penalties for Labor Code violations. Sections 2699 9(a) and 2699.3 of PAGA contain requirements for such actions.
The court held that the recently decided Viking River Cruises, Inc. v. Moriana, — S. Ct. —, 2022 WL 2135491, at *3 (2022), case expressly foreclosed Walmart’s argument that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing her PAGA claims because she did not seek class certification under Rule 23. In addition, given their differing coverage, PAGA and Rule 23 are fully compatible and do not conflict for purposes of the first step of an Erie analysis. The court also rejected Walmart’s argument that the district court correctly rejected some of Plaintiff's PAGA claims as unmanageable under its inherent authority. The court held that Rule 26(a) applied to claims for damages. Plaintiff's PAGA claims seek civil penalties, not damages, so Rule 26(a) does not apply to her PAGA claims.