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Amica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Vernon

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 11, 2014

AMICA MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
RUSSEL VERNON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

The Court has before it the Amended Motion to Intervene (Dkt. 19). For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion.

LEGAL STANDARD

Rule 24(a) contains the standard for intervention as of right. It provides that upon timely motion, the Court must permit anyone to intervene who "claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest." Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)(2).[1] The Ninth Circuit has distilled this provision into a four-part test: (1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have a "significantly protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must not be adequately represented by the existing parties in the lawsuit. Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Berg, 268 F.3d 810, 817 (9th Cir.2001). The Court's evaluation is "guided primarily by practical considerations, " not technical distinctions. Id. However, "[f]ailure to satisfy any one of the requirements is fatal to the application." Perry v. Prop. 8 Official Proponents, 587 F.3d 947, 950 (9th Cir.2009).

Rule 24(b) allows permissive intervention when an applicant "has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b). "In exercising its discretion the court shall consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties." Id. When a proposed intervenor has met those requirements, "[t]he court may also consider other factors in the exercise of its discretion, including the nature and extent of the intervenors' interest' and whether the intervenors' interests are adequately represented by other parties.'" Perry, 587 F.3d at 955 ( quoting Spangler v. Pasadena City Bd. of Educ., 552 F.2d 1326, 1329 (9th Cir.1977)).

ANALYSIS

1. Intervention as a Matter of Right

As noted above, for a Court to grant intervention as a matter of right, (1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have a "significantly protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must not be adequately represented by the existing parties in the lawsuit. Southwest Center for Biological Diversity v. Berg, 268 F.3d 810, 817 (9th Cir.2001). The Court will address each element in turn below.

A. Timliness

"Timeliness is determined with reference to three factors: (1) the stage of the proceeding at which an applicant seeks to intervene; (2) the prejudice to other parties; and (3) the reason for and length of the delay." Peruta v. County of San Diego, 771 F.3d 570, 572 (9th Cir. 2014) (Internal citation and quotations omitted). Here, at the scheduling conference, the parties and the Court agreed to an expedited motion for summary judgment with limited discovery before setting additional deadlines in this case should the Court deny summary judgment. Under that agreement, Amica filed a motion for summary judgment on October 17, 2014. The Estate of Roberta Janet McIntire and Jessica Grable ("Intervenors") filed their motion to intervene about three weeks later, just before the deadline for Vernon's response brief. The Court then suggested, and the parties agreed, that the Court should address the motion to intervene on an expedited basis before further briefing on the motion for summary judgment was filed and the motion decided.

Amica suggests that because it notified Intervenors of this case almost two months before the motion for summary judgment was filed, Intervenors' motion to intervene was untimely. Intervenors certainly could have filed their motion a bit earlier, and their motion has caused some delay in this case. However, given the Court's request that the motion to intervene be addressed expeditiously, and the fact that the case is in the early stages of litigation where very little discovery has occurred, the Court finds that this limited delay has not prejudiced the parties. Accordingly, the motion to intervene was not untimely.

B. Significantly Protectable Interest

The applicant must also have a significantly protectable interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action. "An applicant for intervention has a significantly protectable interest if the interest is protected by law and there is a relationship between the legally protected interest and the ...


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