Law School Case Brief
Animal Prot. Inst. v. Merriam - 242 F.R.D. 524 (D. Minn. 2006)
A proposed intervenor must show that it has a significant protected interest in the subject matter of the litigation, which has been interpreted to be an interest that is direct, substantial, and legally protectable. The interest test should be construed broadly, so as to include as many parties as practicable and, although the intervenor cannot rely on an interest that is wholly remote and speculative, the interest may be contingent on the outcome of litigation. An application for intervention cannot be resolved by reference to the ultimate merits of the claim the intervenor seeks to assert unless the allegations are frivolous on their face. A party seeking to intervene need not establish that its interests will actually be impaired, but only that its ability to protect its interest will be impaired if it is denied permission to intervene.
On September 20, 2006, the Animal Protection Institute ("API") filed a complaint against Gene Merriam ("Merriam"), in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources ("DNR"), over the DNR's alleged violation of Section 9 of the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"). The Animal Protection Institute claimed that the DNR's authorization of trapping and snaring activities had caused the illegal taking of certain protective species. Minnesota Trappers Association, et al., moved to intervene as defendants, claiming that the resolution of the case could cause them to suffer economic injuries in the form of decreased income from trapping and non-economic injuries in the form of decreased recreational trapping opportunities.
Should Minnesota Trappers Association, et al., be allowed to intervene as of right under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24?
The court found that applicant intervenors were entitled to intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2). Applicant intervenors' interests were sufficient to establish standing. Success by the organization could have impaired applicant intervenors' established and substantial interests in trapping and snaring non-protected wildlife. Applicant intervenors' interests would not have been adequately protected in their absence because the DNR had no particular interest in preserving existing trapping and snaring practices. The court declined to limit applicant intervenors' participation to the remedial stage, as limited intervention could have prejudicially deprived applicant intervenors of an opportunity to address the need for any changes in trapping or snaring practices.
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