Sixth Circuit Opines on Review of Rule 24 Decisions
The Sixth Circuit, in Providence Baptist Church v. Hillandale Committee, Ltd., --- F.3d ----, 2005 WL 2445463 (6th Cir. Oct 05, 2005), issued a decision this past week in which they discussed a couple of issues concerning Rule 24:
Standard of Review in Rule 24 Context
One quesiton that arose was the standard of review applicable to a district court's decision to deny Rule 24 intervention on the ground that the prospective intervenor had failed to submit a pleading as required under Rule 24(c). The court wrote:
This Court generally reviews de novo a district court's determination of whether a would-be intervenor has satisfied the elements required for intervention. However, we conclude that the appropriate review of the question of whether a motion to intervene should be dismissed for failure to satisfy the procedural requirements of Rule 24(c), as with the question of whether it should be dismissed for untimeliness, is for abuse of discretion. See Retired Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of Chicago, 7 F.3d 584, 595 (7th Cir.1993) ("Whether to permit a procedurally defective motion to intervene is within the sound discretion of the district court.") This approach accords with the general principle that "issues involving what can broadly be labeled 'supervision of litigation" ' are reviewed for abuse of discretion.
Impact of Failure to Comply with Rule 24(c)
The court also addressed whether the failure to file a pleading as required by Rule 24(c) should be grounds for denying a motion to intervene under Rule 24(a). The circuits are split on this issue but a majority favor a permissive approach that excuses such procedural defects. Rather than select an approach, the court held that the facts in this case did not warrant a denial of the motion on the basis of the movant's failure to comply with Rule 24(c) under either of the approaches followed by the circuits: "The district court's exacting application of Rule 24(c) is not in accord with the jurisprudence of a majority of the Circuits, which favor a permissive approach, or with the rationale applied by other circuits to approve strict enforcement of Rule 24(c) in some circumstances (e.g., where the parties are not on notice as to the grounds asserted for intervention, or there is some other prejudice to the parties)."