Moorer v. Noble L.A. Events, Inc., 2019 WL 949419 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019)

David Moorer, who worked as a full-time security guard and “lobby ambassador” for Noble, filed a complaint as an individual and on behalf of all aggrieved employees against Noble and others under the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). After Noble failed to respond to outstanding discovery requests and its lawyer withdrew, Moorer submitted a request for entry of a default judgment against Noble in the amount of $679,374.52, including $594,550 in PAGA penalties. The civil penalties under PAGA were calculated based on wage violations for 23 aggrieved employees. However, the trial court denied a request by Moorer to enter the default judgment because the proposed judgment failed to account for the distribution requirements for PAGA penalties – specifically, Moorer’s proposed judgment sought to allocate all penalties to Moorer himself and made no reference to the 75 percent of PAGA penalties owed to the state or the share of penalties to be distributed to other aggrieved employees. Although Moorer subsequently conceded the state was entitled to 75 percent of the PAGA penalties, he continued to seek to allocate the remaining 25 percent to himself alone rather than distribute it among the aggrieved employees. The trial court dismissed the case, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that allocation of 25 percent of the penalties to all aggrieved employees is consistent with the statutory scheme under which the judgment binds all aggrieved employees, including nonparties. See also Correia v. NB Baker Elec., Inc., 2019 WL 910979 (Cal. Ct. App. 2019) (PAGA representative-action waiver remains unenforceable under California law; PAGA representative action may not be compelled to arbitration without the state’s consent).