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Zuniga v. Alexandria Care Center, LLC (2021) 67 Cal. App.5th 871

The Appellate Case

The case Zuniga v. Alexandria Care Center, LLC (2021) 67 Cal. App.5th 871 deals with a lawsuit brought by Rosalinda Zuniga against Alexandria Care Center, LLC, Skilled Healthcare, LLC, and Skilled Healthcare Group, Inc. (collectively referred to as Alexandria Care). The lawsuit was based on Zuniga’s representative claim for penalties under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, also referred to as PAGA (Lab. Code, S 2698 et seq.).

The trial court initially granted Alexandria Care’s motion to compel arbitration for Zuniga’s individual claims, while the PAGA claim was put on hold. Zuniga’s individual claims were later settled, but the PAGA claim was not included in that settlement, leading to the scheduling of a bench trial.

During the trial, Zuniga presented two proposed expert witnesses, Dean Van Dyke and Richard Drogin, Ph.D. These experts were to provide testimony based on spreadsheets prepared by Van Dyke’s company, iBridge LLC, which served as the foundation for Dr. Drogin’s opinions on Alexandria Care’s alleged Labor Code violations [1]. However, the trial court excluded the testimony of these expert witnesses, leading Zuniga to appeal the judgment in favor of Alexandria Care.

The Court of Appeal agreed with Zuniga that the trial court erred in excluding the expert testimony of Dr. Drogin, stating that even if the iBridge spreadsheets lacked the necessary foundation for admission into evidence, the error was prejudicial. As a result, the judgment was reversed, and a new trial was ordered.

Is It Illegal, or Just Unfair?

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