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Christensen v. Piceance Well Service, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Utah

November 28, 2016

DEAN H. CHRISTENSEN, an individual, Plaintiff,
v.
PICEANCE WELL SERVICE, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING TARIQ AHMAD'S PENDING MOTION TO INTERVENE

          Ted Stewart United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Tariq Ahmad's Motion to Intervene. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny Mr. Ahmad's Motion to Intervene.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 5, 2016, Defendant Piceance Well Service, Inc., filed a Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault.[1] That notice listed eight individuals and entities that Defendant believed should be included “on a special verdict form at trial for any cause or contribution they may have had to Plaintiff's claimed damages.”[2] Mr. Tariq Ahmad was among those listed because Defendant believed he was a “co- or part-owner” of the well.[3] Mr. Ahmad was originally listed as a “fact witness” in Plaintiff's initial disclosures, [4] and Defendant states Mr. Ahmad is “a manager of Greentown Oil, LLC and the Director/Secretary of Pacific Energy & Mining, LLC, ” two entities that were also included in the Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault.[5]

         On May 27, 2016, Mr. Ahmad filed a Motion to Intervene pro se.[6] Defendant filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Mr. Ahmad's Motion to Intervene on May 31, 2016, arguing that Mr. Ahmad had not established that he had a right to intervene as a matter of right, that Mr. Ahmad misunderstood the applicable law and procedure, and that his Motion was untimely.[7] On June 16, 2016, Mr. Ahmad filed a Reply to Defendant's Opposition stating that the Defendant's Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault established the “basis for intervention, ” and that the Defendant's Notice “made Movant a party to the matter.”[8]

         II. MOTION TO INTERVENE

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 24 provides two pathways to intervention: intervention of right and permissive intervention. Because Mr. Ahmad did not specify which type of intervention he was requesting, the Court considers Mr. Ahmad's Motion in light of both types.

         A. Intervention of Right

         There are two situations that create intervention of right.[9] The first is when a movant “is given an unconditional right to intervene by a federal statute, ”[10] and the second is when a movant satisfies four requirements.[11] There is no applicable federal statute in this case, so the Court reviews the four requirements.

         First, the motion to intervene must be timely.[12] Once it is established that the motion is timely, a movant may intervene if: “(1) the movant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (2) the disposition of the litigation may, as a practical matter, impair or impede the movant's interest; and (3) the existing parties do not adequately represent the movant's interest.”[13] The Tenth Circuit has stated that these “factors . . . are intended to capture the circumstances in which the practical effect on the prospective intervenor justifies its participation in the litigation, and those factors are not rigid, technical requirements.”[14]

         1. Timeliness

         Timeliness is based on a totality of the circumstances assessment.[15] The factors courts generally consider include: (1) “the length of time since the applicant knew of his interest in the case, ” (2) “prejudice to the existing parties, ” (3) “prejudice to the applicant, ” and (4) “the existence of any unusual circumstances.”[16]

         Defendant argues that Mr. Ahmad's Motion to Intervene was untimely because the deadline to file a motion to add parties was May 6, 2016. Mr. Ahmad submitted his motion on May 27, 2016. Defendant indicates that Mr. Ahmad was aware of the litigation and the events leading up to the litigation, giving him ample time to intervene prior to the deadline. Mr. Ahmad responds to Defendant's timeliness argument, stating that he filed in a timely manner after learning about the Defendant's Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault, which was filed on May 5, 2016.

         In light of the relevant factors, Mr. Ahmad's Motion is timely. The deadline to add parties only applies to the parties in this case, of which Mr. Ahmad is not one. Therefore, the deadline does not apply to him. Also, he filed a Motion to Intervene soon after the Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault was filed, and Defendant can demonstrate no prejudice to the parties or the presence of unusual circumstances because this case is in the early stages. Thus, the Court finds the Motion timely.

         2. Interest

         [A] mere economic interest is not enough to warrant inclusion of a nonparty.[17] An interest must arise out of “the subject matter of the suit” in such a way that “warrant[s] intervention.[18] At a minimum, the applicant must have an interest that could be adversely affected by the litigation. But practical judgment must be applied in determining whether the strength of the interest and the potential risk of injury to that interest justify intervention.[19]

         Mr. Ahmad failed to present any interest in the litigation in either his Motion to Intervene or his Reply to Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition to his Motion to Intervene. Mr. Ahmad indicates that Defendant's Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault is the basis for his Motion to Intervene and that Defendant's Notice is sufficient to make Mr. Ahmad “a party to the matter.”[20]In Defendant's Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault, Defendant states it believes that Mr. Ahmad is a co- or part-owner of the subject well. In its reply, Defendant states that Mr. Ahmad has not presented evidence demonstrating any kind of ownership in the well.[21] Defendant informs the Court that Mr. Ahmad was originally listed as a witness to the events leading to the litigation and that he “is a manager of Greentown Oil, LLC and the Director/Secretary of Pacific Energy & Mining, LLC.”[22]

         While Defendant appears to contradict itself, it points out that Mr. Ahmad's connection is unclear and additional information is required from Mr. Ahmad to determine what interest he may have in the litigation. Defendant's Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault does not define the individuals' or entities' interests in the litigation, only that those non-parties may have had some “fault” in the matter.[23] The Notice of Intent to Allocate Fault does not present interests that are obvious. Therefore, Mr. Ahmad's failure to explain his interest warrants denial of his Motion to Intervene under the interest prong.

         3. Impairment

         “[T]he question of impairment is not separate from the question of existence of an interest.”[24] The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that the issue of impairment is a “minimal burden” placed on the movant “to show that impairment of [its] interest is possible if leave to intervene is not granted.”[25] In the current case, Mr. Ahmad has not presented any interests he has in the litigation and has not explained how those interests would be ...


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