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Delano Farms Co. v. California Table Grape Commission

July 23, 2010

DELANO FARMS COMPANY, FOUR STAR FRUIT, INC., AND GERAWAN FARMING, INC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CALIFORNIA TABLE GRAPE COMMISSION, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, TOM VILSACK, SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULGURE (IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY), DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE CALIFORNIA TABLE GRAPE COMMISSION'S MOTION TO INTERVENE IN PLAINTIFFS' FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION IN THE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT

(DOC. 97).

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Second Amended Complaint ("SAC") includes a cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") challenging exclusive licenses for three patentened grape varieties granted by the United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") to the California Table Grape Commission ("Commission") under the Bayh-Dole Act, 35 U.S.C. § 209. Although the Commission is named as a defendant in other causes of action, it is not named as a defendant in the APA claim. "[T]o the extent it is necessary to permit the Commission to defend the challenged licenses," the Commission seeks to intervene in the APA claim. Doc. 98.

Plaintiffs oppose the Commission's intervention in the APA claim. Doc. 107. The Commission replied. Doc. 110.

II. DISCUSSION

The Commission moves to intervene as of right or, in the alternative, to permissively intervene.

A. Intervention as of Right

1. Legal Standard

Intervention is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. To intervene as a matter of right under Rule 24(a)(2), an applicant must claim an interest, the protection of which may, as a practical matter, be impaired or impeded if the lawsuit proceeds without the applicant. Forest Conservation Council v. United States Forest Serv., 66 F.3d 1489, 1493 (9th Cir. 1993). The Ninth Circuit applies Rule 24(a) liberally, in favor of intervention, and requires a district court to "take all well-pleaded, non-conclusory allegations in the motion as true absent sham, frivolity or other objections." Southwest Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg, 268 F.3d 810, 820 (9th Cir. 2001). A four part test is used to evaluate a motion for intervention of right:

(1) the motion must be timely;

(2) the applicant must claim a "significantly protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action;

(3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede its ...


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