Brief Fact Summary. The Save the Dunes Council (“Council”) moved to intervene as a Plaintiff in a case between Plaintiff, the United States, and Defendant, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, in a condemnation proceeding against Defendant.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order to intervene under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2), a party must demonstrate that their application was timely and that they have a significantly protectable interest relating to the property at issue.
If an absentee would be substantially affected in a practical sense by the determination made in an action, he should, as a general rule, be entitled to intervene, and his right to do so should not depend on whether there is a fund to be distributed or otherwise disposed of. Intervention of right is here seen to be a kind of counterpart to Rule 19 (a) (2) (i) on joinder of persons needed for a just adjudication: where, upon motion of a party in an action, an absentee should be joined so that he may protect his interest which as a practical matter may be substantially impaired by the disposition of the action, he ought to have a right to intervene in the action on his own motion.View Full Point of Law
Issue. The issue is whether Council is qualified to intervene.
Held. The court held that the motion to intervene was timely (they filed within four months after the first mention of a settlement). However, the court cited the United States Supreme Court decision, Donaldson v. United States, 400 U.S. 517 (1971), that requires an intervening party to have a “significantly protectable” interest. Council has no legal interest in the property, and certainly the interest is less than Defendant’s paramount interest. The litigation has been ongoing for over four years and it to continue it at this point to further a secondary interest would be unfair to Defendant.
Discussion. A party should have a direct property right, or at least a right that could be considered paramount to the issue before the court before they could intervene.