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Ford v. Industrial Iron Works, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

February 13, 2017

JAAKOVIS FORD PLAINTIFF
v.
INDUSTRIAL IRON WORKS, INC. DEFENDANT

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI

         This matter is before the Court on Larita Ford's (“Larita”) Motion to Intervene [114]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Larita should not be permitted to intervene in this action and that her motion should therefore be denied.

         Background

         Plaintiff Jaakovis Ford (“Jaakovis”) was employed by Pinnacle Agricultural Distribution, Inc. (“Pinnacle”) as a general laborer at the company's Rosedale, Mississippi, facility. Defendant Industrial Iron Works, Inc. d/b/a Adams Fertilizer Equipment (“Adams”) manufactured a “seed/fertilizer load out conveyor, ” which was installed at Pinnacle's facility. On April 11, 2015, Jaakovis was shoveling fertilizer onto the conveyor and “his pants leg became caught by the exposed end of a rotating unguarded conveyor shaft.” As a result, Jaakovis was severely injured and lost much of his right leg.

         Jaakovis subsequently made a claim against Pinnacle and Starr Indemnity & Liability Company's (“Starr”), Pinnacle's workers' compensation insurance carrier, pursuant to the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act. Pinnacle asserts that it has paid $161, 045.13 to Jaakovis in workers' compensation benefits and medical expenses.

         On November 9, 2015, Jaakovis filed suit against Adams-the manufacturer of the conveyor-in the Circuit Court of Bolivar County, Mississippi, asserting claims for negligence, breach of warranties, strict tort liability, and products liability under Mississippi Code § 11-1-63 et seq. Adams timely removed the action to this Court. Pinnacle and Starr subsequently filed a motion to intervene, asserting that, pursuant to Mississippi Code § 71-3-71, they were entitled to reimbursement from Adams for the payments they made to Ford. The Court granted their motion to intervene.

         This action was initially set for trial on February 6, 2017. The parties participated in a lengthy settlement conference on January 4, 2017, and a telephonic status conference on January 17, 2017. On January 18, 2017, the Court received confirmation that Jaakovis, Adams, Pinnacle, and Starr had reached a tentative settlement in the case. However, on January 17, 2017-the night before the parties reached the tentative settlement-Larita filed the present motion to intervene. In the motion, Larita asserts that she is Jaakovis' wife, “entitl[ing her] to Fifty Percent (50%) of Plaintiff's final settlement.” Larita also asserts that she has three minor children with Jaakovis and that “Plaintiff is currently in arrears in child support for the three minor children that they have together in the amount of approximately Twenty Five Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty Dollars and Forty Cent [sic] ($25, 950.40), and it continues to accrue on a monthly basis.” She thus requests that the Court withhold part of the final settlement in this case to satisfy these obligations, along with attorney's fees and court costs she has incurred. Prior to filing the present motion, Larita had not been involved in any aspect of this case. As a result of the tentative settlement, the Court issued a stay of the pending motions and continued the February 6, 2017, trial setting.

         Due to the unusual procedural posture of the case, the Court issued a show cause order, instructing each of the parties to file a memorandum concerning Larita's motion to intervene. Specifically, the Court ordered the parties to “file a memorandum with authorities explaining their position as to why [Larita's] motion to intervene should be granted or denied.” Each of the parties timely filed their responses.

         Discussion

         “In the absence of a federal statute conferring an unconditional right to intervene, a motion to intervene as of right is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2).” Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 753 (5th Cir. 2005). Under Rule 24(a)(2), a motion to intervene is proper when:

(1) the motion to intervene is timely; (2) the potential intervener asserts an interest that is related to the property or transaction that forms the basis of the controversy in the case into which she seeks to intervene; (3) the disposition of that case may impair or impede the potential intervener's ability to protect her interest; and (4) the existing parties do not adequately represent the potential intervener's interest.

Id. (quoting Saldano v. Roach, 363 F.3d 545, 551 (5th Cir. 2004)) (emphasis added). “Although failure to satisfy any one element precludes the applicant's right to intervene, . . . the inquiry under subsection (a)(2) is a flexible one . . . [and] must be measured by a practical rather than technical yardstick.'” Id. (quoting Edwards v. City of Houston, 78 F.3d 983, 999 (5th Cir. 1996)). Moreover, this Court has held that “[t]he party seeking to intervene must demonstrate that they have an interest that is ‘significantly protectable.'” J.T. Shannon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Gilco Lumber, Inc., 2008 WL 4553048, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Oct. 7, 2008).

         Because the Court is unaware of any federal statute conferring upon Larita an unconditional right to intervene in this cause, her motion is governed by Rule 24(a)(2). Accordingly, she must satisfy each of the four elements listed above for intervention to be proper.

         Whether Larita's motion to ...


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