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Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) requires proof of four elements from an applicant seeking intervention as of right: first, a timely application for leave to intervene; second, a sufficient interest in the litigation; third, a threat that the interest will be impaired or affected, as a practical matter, by the disposition of the action; and fourth, inadequate representation of the prospective intervenor's interest by existing parties to the litigation.
Plaintiff residents and environmental organization brought a suit against defendant United States Forest Service to prevent logging activity in the Allegheny National Forest. A motion for leave to intervene was filed by a number of area school districts located near the Allegheny National Forest. In addition, six townships sought intervention. The school districts and municipalities asserted an interest in the suit because they received funds from receipts of logging operations in the forest. Joining the motion for leave to intervene were companies which have existing contracts to cut timber as part of a watershed project. The district court denied the motions to intervene. The present appeal followed.
Did the district court correctly deny the motions to intervene?
The court noted that under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2), intervention by right required a timely application, sufficient interest in the litigation, a threat of impairment of the interest, and inadequate representation by the existing parties. The court held that there was no clear pattern in the case law of sufficient interests, that Fed. R. Civ. P. 24 was elastic, that a categorical rule of denial of private support for governmental agencies in National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 4332, cases was improper, and that timber companies had a direct substantial interest in suits aimed at halting logging, and the injunction would have had an immediate, adverse financial effect on the school districts and municipalities. The court held that companies that were dependent on timber contracts as well as those with existing contracts had substantial interests. The court held that defendant did not adequately protect those interests because the government represented numerous complex and conflicting interests, subject to change with policy shifts. Accordingly, the court reversed the denial of the motion to intervene and remanded for further proceedings.