Wesson v. Staples the Office Superstore, LLC, 68 Cal. App. 5th 746 (2021)

Fred Wesson sued Staples under PAGA, seeking $36 million in civil penalties for Labor Code violations related to an alleged misclassification of its store general managers.  At trial, Staples moved to strike Wesson’s PAGA claim, arguing that the number of employees and the nature of the allegations made the PAGA action “unmanageable,” which would violate Staples’ due process rights.  The trial court invited Wesson to submit a trial plan showing that his PAGA action would be manageable at trial, but Wesson insisted the trial court lacked authority to require that his claim was manageable.  The trial court disagreed and granted Staples’ motion to strike the PAGA claim on manageability grounds.  The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that trial courts have inherent authority to ensure that PAGA claims can be fairly and efficiently tried and, further, that defendants are entitled to a fair opportunity to litigate their affirmative defenses and a court’s manageability assessment should account for them.