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Heffner v. Murphy

June 25, 2010

ERNEST F. HEFFNER, ET. AL, PLAINTIFFS
v.
DONALD J. MURPHY, ET. AL, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Currently pending before this Court is the motion of non-party Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association ("PFDA") to intervene in the above-captioned action as a defendant. (Doc. 50) (the "Motion"). For the reasons that follow, the Motion will be denied.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs*fn1 initiated the instant action by lodging a Complaint against the Defendants*fn2 on May 20, 2008 alleging claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201 for deprivations of rights secured by the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. (Rec. Doc. 1). On July 25, 2008, the Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint. We granted in part and denied in part that motion on December 22, 2009. (Doc. 32). On March 9, 2010, PFDA filed the instant Motion, seeking intervention as of right, or, alternatively, permissive intervention. Since the same has been fully briefed, it is ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for two types of intervention, intervention as of right and permissive intervention. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) contains the intervention as of right provision. It states,

On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who: (i) is given an unconditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or (ii) 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) ("Rule 24(a)"). A movant seeking intervention under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) must: (i) file a timely application for leave to intervene; (ii) identify a sufficient interest in the underlying litigation; (iii) demonstrate that the interest will be impaired or affected by the disposition of the underlying action; and (iv) establish that the existing parties to the action do not adequately represent its interests. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Treesdale, Inc., 419 F.3d 216, 221 (3d Cir. 2005) (the "Liberty Mutual Test") (citing Kleissler v. United States Forest Serv., 157 F.3d 964, 969 (3d Cir. 1998)). The applicant carries the burden of proving all four parts of the Liberty Mutual Test. See United States v. Alcan Aluminum, 25 F.3d 1174 n.9 (3d Cir. 1994).

Alternatively, a court may grant permissive intervention if a movant makes a timely motion and "(A) is given a conditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or (B) has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b) ("Rule 24(b)"). "In exercising its discretion, the court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights," Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(3), and must balance such against the potential benefits derived from intervention, see Jones v. United Gas Improv. Corp., 69 F.R.D. 398, 401 (E.D. Pa. 1975). Courts have denied permissive intervention when the interests of the potential intervenor are identical to the interests of entities already parties to the litigation, since intervention in such circumstances would be duplicative and superfluous and would not promote the efficient resolution of the case. Kitzmiller v. Dover Area Sch. Dist., 388 F. Supp. 2d 484, 486 (M.D. Pa. 2005); see also Hoots v. Pennsylvania, 672 F.2d 1133, 1136 (3d Cir. 1982) ("where, as here, the interests of the applicant in every manner match those of an existing party and the party's representation is deemed adequate, the district court is well within its discretion in deciding that the applicant's contributions to the proceedings would be superfluous and that any resulting delay would be 'undue.'").

Regardless of the whether a non-party utilizes the mandatory or permissive mechanism for intervention, "A motion to intervene . . . must state the grounds for intervention and be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for which intervention is sought." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(c).

III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The parties and the Court are intimately familiar with the facts undergirding the case at bar. Therefore, in an effort to conserve judicial resources, we shall only reference specific facts as they ...


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