Starks v. Vortex Indus., Inc., 2020 WL 5015248 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020)

Chad Starks gave notice to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) of his allegations that his employer (Vortex) had violated certain Labor Code requirements that employers pay overtime wages and provide meal and rest periods and comply with various other requirements of the Labor Code. After the LWDA failed to respond, Starks filed a complaint alleging violations of the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Sixteen months later, Adolfo Herrera filed a “substantially identical” PAGA action against Vortex, which Herrera never moved to consolidate with the Starks’ action. Starks later settled with Vortex, and Herrera moved to vacate the judgment and to intervene in the Starks action. The trial court denied Herrera’s motions and granted summary judgment to Vortex. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Herrera’s motion to intervene was untimely and, because the LWDA already had accepted the proceeds from the judgment in the Starks action, Herrera as the LWDA’s agent could not attack that judgment. See also Robinson v. Southern Counties Oil Co., 2020 WL 4696742 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020) (former employee who opted out of class action settlement was barred from bringing PAGA action asserting the same claims).