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Maryland Casualty Co. v. Electrolux Home Products

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


October 25, 2010

MARYLAND CASUALTY COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ELECTROLUX HOME PRODUCTS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

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

ORDER REGARDING MOTION TO INTERVENE (Doc. 16)

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Maryland Casualty Company ("Plaintiff") proceeds with this action for damages against Defendants Electrolux Home Products, Inc., and Lowes Companies, Inc.

On August 19, 2010, Valley Forge Insurance Company ("Valley Forge") filed the instant motion to intervene. (Doc. 16). No party has filed opposition to Valley Forge's motion.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

This action arises out of a fire that occurred on December 21, 2008 at a commercial property located at 1706 Chester Avenue in Bakersfield, California ("Property"). (Complaint at 3). According to the complaint, the fire was caused by a failure in an Electrolux refrigerator located at the property. (Id.). At the time of the fire, Plaintiff was an insurer of the Property pursuant to a policy of liability insurance taken out by Berkshire Properties. (Id.); (Motion to Intervene at 1). As a result of the fire, Plaintiff's insured, Berkshire Properties, filed a claim for property damages in the amount of $229,688.96. (Id.). Plaintiff was required to and did make payments on behalf of its insured. (Complaint at 3). The complaint seeks reimbursement from Defendants for damages caused by the fire.

At the time of the fire, Valley Forge was also an insurer of the Property pursuant to a policy of liability insurance taken out by Vallitix, LLC. (Motion to Intervene at 1). Valley Forge paid Vallitix $97,307.57 in connection with property damage Vallitix sustained as a result of the fire. Valley Forge also seeks reimbursement from Defendants for damages caused by the fire.

III. LEGAL STANDARD.

Intervention is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. With respect to permissive intervention under Rule 24(b), the Court may grant a timely motion to intervene if it is brought by one who is (1) given a conditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or (2) has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b). An applicant who seeks permissive intervention must prove that it meets three threshold requirements: (1) it shares a common question of law or fact with the main action; (2) its motion is timely; and (3) the court has an independent basis for jurisdiction over the applicant's claims. Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 412 (9th Cir. 1998).

IV. DISCUSSION

Valley Forge satisfies all requirements for permissive intervention. First, Valley Forge has established that common questions of fact connect its claim with Plaintiff's claim against Defendants: all claims arise out of the same fire allegedly caused by the failure of a product supplied by Defendants. Second, there is an independent basis for jurisdiction over Valley Forge's claims based on diversity of citizenship.*fn1 Finally, Valley Forge's motion is timely under the circumstances. In assessing timeliness, courts in the Ninth Circuit must consider: (1) the current stage of the proceedings; (2) whether the existing parties would be prejudiced; and (3) the reason for any delay in moving to intervene. League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Wilson, 131 F.3d 1297, 1302 (9th Cir. 1997). Existing parties are not prejudiced when "the motion was filed before the district court made any substantive rulings." Northwest Forest Resource Council v. Glickman, 82 F.3d 825, 837 (9th Cir. 1996).

The complaint was filed on February 10, 2010. (Doc. 1). Valley Forge first learned of this case on July 26, 2010. (Stephens Dec. at 1-2). Valley Forge filed its motion to intervene on August 19, 2010, before any substantive rulings in the case had been made. (Doc. 16). Given the current stage of the litigation, the lack of prejudice any party will suffer, and the legitimate reason for Valley Forge's delay in filing the instant motion, the timeliness factor weighs in favor of granting Valley Forges motion to intervene.

ORDER

For the reasons stated, Valley Forge's motion to intervene is GRANTED.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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