United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO.
William H. Orrick United States District Judge
compelled his state law employment claims to arbitration
(Order Granting Motion to Compel Arbitration, Sanchez v.
Gruma Corporation, et. al., No. 19-cv-00794 (N.D. Cal.
April 9, 2019), ECF No. 11 (“Sanchez
I”)), plaintiff Steven Sanchez filed a second
lawsuit asserting putative California Private Attorney
General Act (“PAGA”) claims against defendant
Gruma Corporation (“Gruma”) based on the same
facts as the first case. Gruma moves to dismiss Sanchez's
PAGA complaint because, among other reasons, his notice to
the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency
(“LWDA”) was defective in that it did not assert
a representative claim. Gruma is correct, and Sanchez's
amended notice came after the one-year statute of limitation
expired and cannot relate back to a defective notice.
Accordingly, I grant Gruma's motion to dismiss with
Sanchez I and this case, Sanchez alleges a number of
state law employment claims against Gruma, which produces
Mexican food products under the brand “Mission Foods,
” and Mission Foods Corporation. Private Attorney
General Act Complaint (“Compl.”) attached as
Exhibit A to Defendant Gruma Corporation's Notice of
Removal of Civil Action to the United States District Court
Pursuant to U.S.C. §§ 1332(a), 1441(a) and 1446
(“Sanchez II NOR”) [Dkt. No. 1];
Complaint for Damages, attached as Exhibit A to Defendant
Gruma Corporation's Notice of Removal of Civil Action to
the United States District Court Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332(a), 1441(a) and 1446 (“Sanchez
I NOR”), Sanchez I, ECF No. 1-1.
Sanchez I was commenced in Alameda County Superior
Court and removed by Gruma to the Northern District of
California. Sanchez I NOR. Because of a valid
arbitration agreement, I granted Gruma's motion to compel
arbitration on April 9, 2019; the claims in Sanchez
I are currently before an arbitrator. Order Granting
Motion to Compel Arbitration, Sanchez I, ECF No. 11.
March 19, 2019, Sanchez filed his PAGA claims in state court.
Id. at 14-15. Gruma removed the case, I related it
to Sanchez I, and it is now before me as Sanchez
II. Sanchez II NOR. The complaint in Sanchez
II, styled as a PAGA complaint, repeats the same factual
allegations as Sanchez I. It asserts the following
claims as PAGA claims, rather than as individual claims as in
Sanchez I: (i) failure to pay overtime wages, (ii)
failure to pay minimum wages, (iii) rest breaks, (iv) meal
periods, (v) waiting time penalties, (vi) inaccurate wage
statements, and (vii) retaliation. Compl. at 10-19.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court
must dismiss if a claim fails to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted. To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the claimant must allege “enough facts to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff
pleads facts that “allow the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). There must be
“more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Id. While courts do not
require “heightened fact pleading of specifics, ”
a claim must be supported by facts sufficient to “raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570.
argues that Sanchez's PAGA claims must be dismissed
because he has failed to bring a representative PAGA claim.
MTD at 11-13. According to Gruma, Sanchez has only asserted
wholly individualized claims that cannot form the basis of a
representative PAGA claim because each factual allegation
asserts wrongs against Sanchez that are unique to his
employment relationship with Gruma. Id. It points
out that the complaint does not identify any group of
aggrieved employees and that the factual allegations are
copied from individual claims in Sanchez I.
Id. Additionally, it states that Sanchez only seeks
recovery for himself and not on behalf of aggrieved
PAGA, an ‘aggrieved employee' may file a
representative action ‘on behalf of himself or herself
and other current and former employees' to recover civil
penalties for violations of the Labor Code that otherwise
would be assessed and collected by the Labor and Workforce
Development Agency.” Khan v. Dunn-Edwards
Corp., 19 Cal.App. 5th 804');">19 Cal.App. 5th 804, 808-09 (Cal.Ct.App. 2018)
(internal citations omitted). 75% of any civil penalty
recovered is paid to the LWDA and 25% is paid to the
aggrieved employees. Id. (internal citation
bringing a PAGA claim, Cal. Labor Code § 2699.3 requires
a plaintiff to provide notice to the LWDA. Id.
(internal citations omitted). As a condition of suit, this
notice must identify the specific provision of the Labor Code
alleged to have been violated and the facts and theories that
support the alleged violation. Id. (citing
Williams v. Superior Court, 3 Cal.5th 531, 545 (Cal.
2017). The purpose of the notice requirement is to allow the
LWDA the opportunity “to decide whether to allocate
scarce resources to an investigation, a decision better made
with knowledge of the allegations an aggrieved employee is
making and any basis for those allegations.”
Id. Notice also allows the employer to submit a
response to the LWDA, which also promotes an informed agency
decision on resource allocation. Id. (citing
Williams, 3 Cal.5th at pp. 545-546). PAGA claims are
limited to the specific theories mentioned in the LWDA notice
letter. Holak v. K Mart Corp., No. 12-cv-00304, 2015
WL 2384895, at *3 (E.D. Cal. May 19, 2015) (internal citation
LWDA notice letter does not identify any representative
claims. The LWDA letter states in relevant part:
A. The Employer Violated Multiple Labor Code sections Related
to their Misclassification of Mr. Sanchez as Exempt from
Overtime. As described above, the employer violated multiple
wage and hour Labor Code sections:
• Misclassified Mr. Sanchez as exempt from overtime
(Labor Code §§ 200, et seq., 204, 226, 510, 515,
1194, & ...