United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
L. Christensen, Chief Judge United States District Court
the Court is the State of Wyoming's Motion to Intervene.
(Doc. 12.) Wyoming seeks to Intervene in this matter "as
of right" pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
24(a) or "permissively" pursuant to Rule 24(b).
(Doc. 13 at 2.) Plaintiffs do not oppose Wyoming's
permissive intervention under Rule 24(b), though ask the
Court to limit Wyoming's participation by (1) requiring
Wyoming's adherence to the briefing schedule applicable
to Federal Defendants; and (2) prohibiting Wyoming's
filing of independent motions not joined by Federal
Defendants. (Doc. 14 at 2.) Federal Defendants do not oppose
the Motion to Intervene but do not support the imposition of
the conditions proposed by Plaintiffs. (Doc. 15 at 2.) For
the following reasons, Wyoming's Motion will be granted.
24(b)(1)(B) provides that "[o]n timely motion, the court
may permit anyone to intervene who ... has a claim or defense
that shares with the main action a common question of law or
fact." "The decision to grant or deny this type of
intervention is discretionary, subject to considerations of
equity and judicial economy." Garza v. County of Los
Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 777 (9th Cir. 1990). When
exercising this 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). "Permissive intervention to
litigate a claim on the merits under Rule 24(b) requires (1)
an independent ground for jurisdiction; (2) a timely motion;
and (3) a common question of law and fact between the
movant's claim or defense and the main action."
Beckman Industries, Inc. v. International Insurance
Co., 966 F.2d 470, 473 (9th Cir. 1992). However, when
the court has federal-question jurisdiction and the proposed
intervenor does not seek to bring new state-law claims, an
independent ground for jurisdiction is unnecessary.
Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Geithner,
644 F.3d 836, 843-44 (9th Cir. 2011). Here, this Court has
federal-question jurisdiction and Wyoming is not advancing
any individual claims. (See Doc. 13 at 12-13.)
Consequently, the Court turns to the remaining two
Wyoming's motion is timely. The timeliness of a motion to
intervene depends on three criteria: "(1) the stage of
the proceeding at which an applicant seeks to intervene; (2)
the prejudice to other parties; and (3) the reason for the
length of delay." United States v. Carpenter,
298 F.3d 1122, 1125 (9th Cir. 2002) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted). This litigation is in a preliminary
stage and the Court has not yet issued a scheduling order. In
light of the early stage of these proceedings, the Court does
not find that there will be prejudice to other parties or
that there is any delay in the filing of Wyoming's
the Court considers whether there are common questions of law
and fact between Wyoming's defense and the main action.
Here, Wyoming does not appear to be raising any specific
defense but intends to defend that the Service maintains
discretion as to whether to amend or modify the Grizzly Bear
Recovery Plan under the Endangered Species Act
("ESA"). As such, Wyoming's defenses are
directly responsive to the Center's claims that the
Service maintained a nondiscretionary duty to evaluate and
incorporate new grizzly habitats under the ESA.
granting the motion for permissive intervention, the Court
advises Wyoming that, while it may participate in settlement
negotiations with the parties should such negotiations take
place, its status as Defendant-Intervenor does not carry with
it the right to prevent any settlement of plaintiffs'
claims from occurring. See United States v.
Carpenter, 526 F.3d 1237, 1240-1241 (9th Cir. 2008)
(recognizing "that intervenors' consent is not
required for approval of [a] settlement between the
parties"); Local Number 93, Int'l Ass 'n of
Firefighters, AFL-CIO C.L.C. v. City of Cleveland, 478
U.S. 501, 528-529 (1986) ("It has never been supposed
that... an intervenor ... could preclude other parties from
settling their own disputes and thereby withdrawing from
litigation. Thus, while an intervenor is entitled to present
evidence and have its objections heard at the hearings on
whether to approve a consent decree, it does not have power
to block the decree merely by withholding its consent.")
the Court urges Wyoming to focus its briefing on its unique
interests in this case. It is not helpful when intervenors or
amici brief the same issues and make the same arguments
advanced by other defendants.
the conditions that Plaintiffs request, the Court will grant
the first request. Though the scheduling order is not yet
released, Federal Defendants and Wyoming will be subject to
the same filing deadlines. Federal Defendants and Wyoming are
expected to work together to avoid duplicative briefing. The
Court will not grant Plaintiffs second request. Wyoming will
be permitted to file its own motions.
IT IS ORDERED that Wyoming's Motion to Intervene (Doc.
12) is GRANTED as follows:
1) Defendant-Intervenor are hereby granted leave to intervene
as a defendant in this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 24(b)(1)(B);
2) Defendant-Intervenor shall file its answer on or before
October 14, 2019; and
3) Defendant-Intervenor shall confer with counsel for the
federal defendants on all motions and briefs to avoid
repetitious arguments to the extent consistent with