Any interest of the movants is contingent upon their members being sued in the future for injuries caused by ferrets owned by the members. The movants themselves would not even be liable, unless the organizations own the ferrets themselves. And the potential litigation may never come to pass. Every potential tortfeasor does not have the right to intervene in any case which may have an impact on an uncommitted tort.
In short, the movants do not have a direct interest in the outcome of this litigation, and have claimed an interest only in one particular ruling. That ruling does not affect them directly, and may never affect them at all. Movants may not intervene as of right under Rule 24(a).
C. PERMISSIVE INTERVENTION
As the language of Rule 24(b) suggests, a district court has discretion when considering a motion for permissive intervention. See also Harris v. Pernsley, supra, 820 F.2d at 597; Brody v. Spang, 957 F.2d 1108, 1124 (3d Cir. 1992). The applicants here have no claim or defense, since they are not involved in any suit. Moreover, there has already been a settlement reached between the parties, and the motion is otherwise most untimely, coming after jury selection and only four or five days prior to scheduled presentation of the case to the jury. Finally, as set forth below, the proffered evidence which movants seek to present is not relevant to the determination they seek to challenge.
We therefore exercise our discretion and deny permissive intervention, since intervention by these parties can only detract from these proceedings. It is crystal clear that to allow intervention at this stage of the proceedings would unduly delay and prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties.
D. SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
Finally, movants relate in their motion that the court's finding that ferrets are wild animals is unsubstantiated by scientific evidence of record. They therefore offer to provide the testimony of experts in the ferret field to guide the court.
This testimony is irrelevant to the determination made by the court, however, as a more careful reading of our memorandum and order of July 26, 1993, would reveal. The central part of our reasoning is set forth at pages seven through nine of that memorandum, under the heading, "B. PENNSYLVANIA LAW ON WILD ANIMALS." It is clear from that section that Pennsylvania law controls the question presented. While apparently no Pennsylvania court has considered the question of whether ferrets are wild animals, courts of the Commonwealth have considered, generally, how to determine whether an animal is wild.
In Deluca v. Whitemarsh Twp., 106 Pa. Commw. 325, 526 A.2d 456 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1987), the Commonwealth Court looked to the Game Law, 34 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 1311.1 et seq. (Purdon 1967), since repealed. In Holmes v. Borough of Lansdowne, 9 D. & C. 4th 344 (1991), the Court of Common Pleas, based upon Deluca, looked to the statute which replaced the Game Law, the Game and Wildlife Code, enacted as Title 34 of the Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated. That Act defines wild animals as any animal which is not domestic under 1 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 1991. Ferrets are not included in the section defining domestic animals, and so must be considered wild animals under Pennsylvania law.
We recognize that the courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may not agree with our opinion, since we are deciding the issue before they have considered it. However, we must, in essence, predict the way in which the state courts will reach their conclusions, and we must base that prediction upon the manner in which Pennsylvania courts have ruled in the past. The proffered expert testimony would not change our reading of the law of Pennsylvania, since the courts look to statutory language, and only the Pennsylvania legislature can change that language. The proffered testimony, therefore, would have been immaterial to our determination that ferrets are wild animals for purposes of personal injury actions in Pennsylvania. It follows, then, that intervention by these parties would serve no legitimate purpose.
NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. The motion (record document no. 84) to intervene as defendants filed by the above-named movants is denied.
2. The motion (record document no. 84) for a stay of proceedings is denied as moot.
James F. McClure, Jr., United States District Judge
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