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Gulley v. Fishing Holdings, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

August 31, 2017

ROBERT GULLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
FISHING HOLDINGS, LLC; FLW, LLC; OPERATION BASS, INC.; OUT FRONT MARKETING, LLC; SHINICHI FUKAE; Defendants. In the Matter of the Complaint of Operation Bass, Inc. as Owner Pro Hac Vice of the 2011 Ranger Z520 20' 9” Boat with Hull Identification Number RGR04271A111, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability; In the Matter of the Complaint of Fishing Holdings, LLC. as Owner of the 2011 Ranger Z520 20' 9” Boat with Hull Identification Number RGR04271A111, for Exoneration from or Limitation of Liability;

          ORDER GRANTING THE HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY'S AMENDED MOTION TO INTERVENE AS PLAINTIFF AND DENYING THE HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY'S MOTION TO INTERVENE AS PLAINTIFF AS MOOT

          S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Amended Motion to Intervene as Plaintiff (ECF No. 52)[1] of Movant The Hartford Insurance Company. Respondent, Plaintiff Robert Gulley, has filed a Response (ECF Nos. 53 & 54) in opposition. After seeking and receiving leave from the Court, Movant filed a Reply (ECF No. 59). For reasons to follow, Movant's Amended Motion is GRANTED. As it also appears to the Court that Movant's initial Motion to Intervene (ECF No. 51) is still pending, that Motion is DENIED as moot.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 13, 2014, Respondent initiated (ECF No.1) this action in admiralty against a number of defendants. Respondent quickly amended (ECF No. 4) his Complaint four days later. All Defendants filed an Answer (ECF Nos. 15, 16, & 17) by Sept. 22, 2014. The Court entered a Scheduling Order (ECF No. 19) on March 26, 2015 that set February 12, 2016, as the deadline for all discovery to be completed. The Court consolidated the matter with two related Complaints for Exoneration From or Limitation of Liability (ECF No. 22) on May 18, 2015. The Court permitted the parties to amend (ECF No. 29) the Scheduling Order on Dec. 10, 2015. Defendant Operation Bass, Inc., filed an Amended Answer (ECF No. 33) on Dec. 22, 2015. On June 9, 2016, the Court amended the Scheduling Order (ECF No. 41), which extended the deadline for completing all discovery to December 23, 2016. The parties again moved (ECF No. 43) to amend the Scheduling Order and continue the trial date on September 22, 2016. There is some confusion in the record at this point because the case was then reassigned (ECF No. 49), but the Court reset the trial date to September 25, 2017 (ECF No. 45), and the discovery deadline was further extended to May 31, 2017. On April 5, 2017, Movant filed a Motion to Intervene (ECF Nos. 50 & 51). On April 11, 2017, it filed the instant Motion (ECF No. 52), amending its original Motion. Respondent filed his Response (ECF Nos. 53 & 54) on April 25, 2017. Movant then filed its Reply (ECF 59) on May 12, 2017. In granting (ECF No. 100) Defendant Shinichi Fukae's Motion to Continue Trial (ECF No. 89) on August 28, 2017, the Court continued the trial to January 22, 2018, and reset a number of deadlines accordingly (ECF Nos. 101 & 102).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a non-party may move to intervene in a civil action. The rule provides for two types of intervention: (1) intervention of right, which requires that the Court allow a non-party to intervene, and (2) permissive intervention, which is granted at the Court's discretion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24. Rule 24 is to be construed broadly in favor of intervention. Stupak-Thrall v. Glickman, 226 F.3d 467, 472 (6th Cir. 2000) (quoting Purnell v. Akron, 925 F.2d 941, 950 (6th Cir. 1991)). The Court will analyze the instant Motion under Rule 24(a)(2).[2] In so doing, the “[C]ourt 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 dispos[ition] 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). The Rule requires Movant to demonstrate that: (1) the Motion was timely filed; (2) Movant possesses a substantial legal interest in the case; (3) Movant's ability to protect its interest will be impaired without intervention; and (4) neither Respondent nor Defendants will adequately represent Movant's interest. Blount-Hill v. Zelman, 636 F.3d 278, 283 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Grutter v. Bollinger, 188 F.3d 394, 397-98 (6th Cir. 1999)). Because each element is mandatory, failure to satisfy any one of them will require the Court to deny Movant's attempt to intervene. See United States v. Michigan, 424 F.3d 438, 443 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Grubbs v. Norris, 870 F.2d 343, 345 (6th Cir. 1989)). The Court, however, cannot refuse an intervenor that does meet all four requirements. Homayed v. Maytag Co., 1987 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15549, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 21, 1987).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Timeliness

         The Supreme Court has made it clear that timeliness is a threshold issue for a motion to intervene, regardless of whether the intervenor seeks to proceed by intervention as of right or permissive intervention. NAACP v. New York, 413 U.S. 345, 365 (1973) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 24). The Sixth Circuit has articulated five factors for courts to consider in determining the timeliness of a motion to intervene:

(1) the point to which the suit has progressed;
(2) the purpose for which intervention is sought;
(3) the length of time preceding the application during which the proposed intervenors knew or should have known of their interest in the case;
(4) the prejudice to the original parties due to the proposed intervenors' failure to promptly intervene after they knew or reasonably should have known of their interest in the case; and
(5) the existence of unusual circumstances militating against or in favor of intervention.

Blount-Hill, 636 F.3d at 283 (quoting Jansen v. Cincinnati, 904 F.2d 336, 340 (6th Cir. 1990)). “No one factor alone is dispositive.” United States v. City of Detroit, 712 F.3d 925, 937 (6th Cir. 2013) (Clay, J., dissenting) (quoting Blount-Hill, 636 F.3d at 284). And “[t]here is no bright-line rule to determine the timeliness of a motion to intervene.” S. H. v. Stickrath, 251 F.R.D. 293, 297 (S.D. Ohio 2008).

         After evaluating all of the relevant factors, the considerations weigh in favor of Movant. Accordingly, the Court must find ...


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