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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Miranda v. Anderson Enterprises: "Death Knell" Doctrine Allows Immediate Appeal from Order Dismissing PAGA Allegations

In Miranda v. Anderson Enterprises, Inc. (Cal.App. 10/15/15), the plaintiff filed a class and PAGA representative action against the defendant. The defendant petitioned to compel individual arbitration, dismiss the class and PAGA claims, and stay the trial court proceedings. The trial court granted the petition, and the plaintiff appealed that part of the order relating to his PAGA claims.

In the published portion of the decision, the Court of Appeal held that the death knell doctrine gave the plaintiff right to appeal an immediate appeal from the trial court's order dismissing the PAGA allegations. 
As an initial matter, respondents contend the trial court’s order is not presently appealable. “Orders granting motions to compel arbitration are generally not immediately appealable.” Appellant argues his appeal falls within the death knell exception, which “provides that an order which allows a plaintiff to pursue individual claims, but prevents the plaintiff from maintaining the claims as a class action, . . . is immediately appealable because it ‘effectively r[ings] the death knell for the class claims.’ ” Appealability under the death knell doctrine requires “an order that (1) amounts to a de facto final judgment for absent plaintiffs, under circumstances where (2) the persistence of viable but perhaps de minimis individual plaintiff claims creates a risk no formal final judgment will ever be entered.” 
The Court held that PAGA actions are analogous to class actions for purposes of applying the death knell doctrine, and the plaintiff could appeal from the order dismissing his PAGA action.

The opinion is available here.

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