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United States of America v. Daniel L. Allgyer

July 28, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFFS
v.
DANIEL L. ALLGYER, DOING BUSINESS AS RAINBOW ACRES FARM DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stengel, J.

MEMORANDUM

Daniel L. Allgyer, a Lancaster County farmer, sells raw milk and raw milk products. The United States of America, specifically the Food and Drug Administration, seeks a permanent injunction preventing Daniel L. Allgyer from selling unpasteurized milk or milk products in interstate commerce and from introducing into interstate commerce food that is misbranded. Aajonus Vonderplanitz, an advocate of raw milk, seeks to intervene in this case on behalf of the Right to Choose Healthy Food (a "not-for-profit organization"), Rainbow Acres Farm (Mr. Allgyer‟s Farm), the GrassFed Club (a "private citizen‟s club"), as well as other like-minded, and similarly gastronomically-inclined, individuals. Mr. Vonderplanitz is acting pro se, and purports to represent his interests and the legal interests of other entities and individuals. I will deny his motion for intervention.

I. Background

On April 19, 2011, the United States of America filed a complaint for permanent injunction against Daniel J. Allgyer, an individual doing business as Rainbow Acres Farm. The United States alleges Mr. Allgyer violated the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264 and 271, and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 332(a), because he engaged in conduct that endangered public health and safety by distributing raw, unpasteurized milk in interstate commerce. The United States seeks a permanent injunction preventing Mr. Allgyer from selling unpasteurized milk and milk products in interstate commerce and from introducing into interstate commerce food that is misbranded pursuant to the FDCA.

On May 24, 2011, Aajonus Vonderplanitz filed a pro se "Answer and Cross-Complaint in Intervention" on behalf of the Right to Choose Healthy Food, Rainbow Acres Farm,*fn1 the GrassFed Club, himself and other persons. On June 1, 2011, the Clerk of Court was ordered to file the document as a "motion for intervention." Mr. Vonderplanitz is acting pro se, but wants to represent the legal interests of other entities and individuals. Both the Government and Mr. Allgyer have filed responses opposing the motion for intervention. Mr. Vonderplanitz filed a reply to the Government‟s response.

II. Discussion

Both the United States and Mr. Allgyer oppose Mr. Vonderplanitz‟s motion for intervention. I will deny the motion. Mr. Vonderplanitz is not an attorney and cannot represent others in federal court, he does not satisfy the standard for mandatory intervention, and permissive intervention would cause delay in the proceedings.

A. Requirement of Representation by an Attorney

Although an individual may represent himself pro se, "he is not entitled to act as an attorney for others in a federal court." Lutz v. Lavelle, 809 F. Supp. 323, 325 (M.D. Pa. 1991); accord Waksmunski ex rel. Korbe v. Mitchell, 2009 WL 499455, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 27, 2009) (citing Lutz, 809 F. Supp. at 325); Williams v. USP-Lewisburg, 2009 WL 4921316, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 11, 2009) (internal citation omitted).*fn2

The policy reasons cited for the requirement of representation by counsel include the "strong state interest in regulating the practice of law," "the importance of the rights at issue during litigation and the final nature of any adjudication on the merits." Colinsgru v. Palmyra Bd. of Educ., 161 F.3d 225, 231 (3d Cir. 1998), abrogated on other grounds by Winkelman ex rel. Winkelman v. Parma City Sch. Dist., 550 U.S. 516 (2007). "Requiring a minimum level of competence protects not only the party that is being represented but also his or her adversaries and the court from poorly drafted, inarticulate, or vexatious claims." Collinsgru, 161 F.3d at 231. In addition, unlike a lay person, a licensed attorney is "subject to ethical responsibilities and obligations." Id.

Moreover, an unincorporated association must be represented by an attorney; it cannot be represented by a lay person. Duffy v. Kent Cnty. Levy Court, 2011 WL 2148672, at *5 (D. Del. May 31, 2011) (noting the party could represent himself, but could not act as an attorney for an association or corporation (citing Rowland v. Cal. Men‟s Colony, 506 U.S. 194, 202 (1993)); In re Chojecki, 2000 WL 679000, at *2 (E.D. Pa. May 22, 2000) (noting the non-attorney party could represent himself but could not act as an attorney for other individuals or for a corporation).

Mr. Vonderplanitz maintains the individuals and associations contracted with him to represent them, have been unable to find or afford counsel, and many have had "negative experiences" with attorneys. Moreover, the GrassFed Club members would like to remain anonymous because they fear government retribution. The requirement that a person can be represented only by a licensed attorney or can represent himself, however, cannot be altered because of a contract with a lay person, because of an inability to find an attorney, because of a dislike of attorneys, or because some proposed interveners would like to remain anonymous.

B. Intervention

Mr. Vonderplanitz certainly can represent himself. However, his ability to intervene is governed by the ...


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