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In re Midland Credit Management, Inc., Telephone Consumer Protection Act Litigation

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 1, 2019

IN RE MIDLAND CREDIT MANAGEMENT, INC., TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT LITIGATION

          ORDER DENYING SEAN HARTRANFT'S MOTION TO INTERVENE [DOC. NO. 698]

          Hon. Michael M. Anello United States District Judge.

         Sean Hartranft (“Applicant”) filed a motion to intervene in this multidistrict litigation pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 24. Doc. No 698. Defendants responded with a notice of nonopposition to the motion. Doc. No. 699. The Court found the matter suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. Doc. No. 704. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Applicant's motion to intervene.

         Background[1]

         Plaintiffs in the present multidistrict litigation (“MDL”), which originated in 2011, allege defendants violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) by illegally making debt collection calls to them, through use of an automatic dialer or pre-recorded voice, on their cellular telephones without first obtaining their prior consent. See generally Doc. No. 23. On February 8, 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) suspended JPML Rule of Procedure 7.1(a), which ceased conditional transfer orders to prevent further tag-along actions. JPML Doc. No. 1074.[2]In effect, the February 2018 JPML order bars new member cases from entering the MDL.

         Applicant filed a putative class action in this district on June 6, 2018, alleging violations by Defendants of the TCPA and Federal Debt Collection Practices Act. See Hartranft v. Encore Capital Group, Inc., (No. 3:18-cv-1187-BEN-RBB). Applicant asserts that his action and the operative consolidated complaint in the MDL overlap substantially with respect to the TCPA claims and putative class members.[3] Doc. No. 698-1 at 2. On August 12, 2019, Applicant filed this motion to intervene. See id. Emphasizing the related issues of fact and law, Applicant argues intervention is proper as a matter of right pursuant to FRCP 24(a). Id. at 3. In the alternative, Applicant requests permission to intervene pursuant to FRCP 24(b). Id.

         Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 governs motions to intervene. Rule 24 states that a court must, upon a timely motion, allow intervention of right where the movant

(1) is given an unconditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or (2) claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a). The Ninth Circuit has interpreted Rule 24(a) to require an applicant meet all of the following four factors:

(1) the applicant must timely move to intervene; (2) the applicant must have a significantly protectable interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be situated such that the disposition of the action may impair or impede the party's ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must not be adequately represented by existing parties

Arakaki v. Cayetano, 324 F.3d 1078, 1083 (9th Cir. 2003), as amended (May 13, 2003) (citing Donnelly v. Glickman, 159 F.3d 405, 409 (9th Cir. 1998)); Sw. Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 268 F.3d at 817-18; C.S. ex rel. Struble v. California Dep't of Educ., 2008 WL 962159, at *2 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 8, 2008). An applicant has a significant protectable interest where (1) his or her interest is protected under some law, and (2) “there is a ‘relationship' between its legally protected interest and the plaintiff's claims.” Donnelly, 159 F.3d at 409. The resolution of the plaintiff's claims must actually affect the applicant. Id. If there would be a substantial effect, the applicant “should, as a general rule, be entitled to intervene.” Sw. Ctr. for Biological Diversity, 268 F.3d at 822.

         In the alternative, courts may permit a party to intervene under Rule 24(b). The court may permit anyone to intervene who

(A) is given a conditional right to intervene by a federal statute; or (B) has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact. [. . .] (3) Delay or Prejudice. In exercising its discretion, the court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b). A party seeking the court's permission to intervene must establish several prerequisites: “(1) independent grounds for jurisdiction; (2) the motion is timely; and (3) the applicant's claim or defense, and the main action, have a question of law or a question of fact in common.” League of United Latin Am. Citizens v. Wilson, 131 F.3d 1297, 1308 (9th Cir. 1997). However, “[e]ven if an applicant satisfies those threshold requirements, the district court has discretion to deny permissive intervention.” S. California Edison Co. v. Lynch, 307 F.3d 794, 803 (9th Cir.), modified, 307 F.3d ...


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