Accurso v. In-N-Out Burgers, 2023 WL 5543525 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023)
Plaintiffs Tom Piplack and Brianna Marie Taylor filed PAGA actions in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, respectively, against respondent In-N-Out Burgers (In-N-Out). When they learned about settlement negotiations in a later, overlapping PAGA action brought by Ryan Accurso against In-N-Out in Sonoma County, Piplack and Taylor filed a proposed complaint to intervene in the Sonoma County action and moved to intervene under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 387 and for a stay. They requested a stay of proceedings in Accurso’s case based on the doctrine of exclusive concurrent jurisdiction, arguing that Accurso should be stayed as a later-filed action.
The trial court concluded that Piplack and Taylor lacked standing to intervene and on that basis denied the motions to intervene and to stay the case. “The Court finds that neither [Piplack nor Taylor] has a personal interest in the PAGA claims being prosecuted by Accurso, but rather the interest lies with the State, as the real party in interest, and thus [Piplack and Taylor] do not have standing to intervene.” “[L]ikewise,” the court ruled, they “do not have standing to request a stay.” In this opinion, the appellate court vacated the order and remanded for reconsideration. It agreed that Piplack and Taylor did not have the ability to “intervene as of right,” but concluded it was possible that they could permissively intervene. The trial court rejected Piplack and Taylor’s ability to intervene out-of-hand, but the appellate court held that the trial court must weigh arguments the plaintiffs make in favor of staying the case (fully or partially) against any arguments Accurso and In-N-Out wish to offer as to why the motion should not be heard or should be denied.