International Paper Company, Inc. v. QBE Insurance Corporation

Filing 48

ORDER denying 41 Motion to Intervene and Motion to Stay. Signed by Honorable William Keith Watkins on 3/31/2010. (cb, )

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT F O R THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA EASTERN DIVISION IN T E R N A T IO N A L PAPER COMPANY, ) I N C ., ) ) P la in tif f , ) ) v. ) ) Q B E INSURANCE CORPORATION, ) e t al., ) ) D e f e n d a n ts. ) C A S E NO. 3:09-CV-347-WKW ORDER B e f o re the Court is Howard Griggs Trucking, Inc.'s ("Griggs") motion to intervene a n d motion to stay. (Doc # 41.) Upon careful consideration of counsel's arguments, the re le v a n t law, and the record as a whole, the court finds that the motions are due to be denied. I . BACKGROUND P la in tif f International Paper Company, Inc. ("IP") brings this action for breach of c o n tra c t and bad faith against Defendants QBE Insurance Company ("QBE") and Canal In s u ra n c e Company ("Canal") for failure to defend and indemnify IP in the underlying state to rt action. (Am. Compl. (Doc. # 1, Attach. 37).) QBE removed this action from the Circuit C o u rt of Macon County, Alabama on April 16, 2009, after it was severed from the state court a c tio n . (Doc. # 1.) Pending in state court is a claim by IP against Griggs for defense and in d e m n ity pursuant to a Flatbed Motor Carrier Agreement and declaratory judgment actions b y Griggs against QBE and Canal for defense and indemnity. Subsequent to removal of the instant action, both QBE and IP filed cross motions for s u m m a ry judgment. (Docs. # 21, 26.) These motions have been fully briefed and are ripe f o r adjudication. On March 2, 2010, this case was consolidated with two other cases 3:05-cv-1001 (" th e 05 case") and 3:07-cv-206 ("the 07 case") which involve common questions of law a n d fact. (Doc. # 40.) The 05 and 07 cases have been stayed pending resolution of the state c o u rt action. Shortly after consolidation, Griggs, who is a party to the 05 and 07 cases, filed th e instant motion to intervene1 and stay the lead case. (Doc. # 41.) For the following re a s o n s , Griggs' motions are due to be denied. II. DISCUSSION 1. In te r v e n tio n of Right R u le 24(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires a court to permit anyone w h o , on a timely motion, "claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the s u b je c t of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter im p a ir or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately re p re se n t that interest." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2). During the hearing on the motions, counsel for Griggs indicated her mistaken belief that Griggs automatically became a party to the lead case pursuant to the consolidation order. See Johnson v. Manhattan Ry. Co., 289 U.S. 479, 496-97 (1933) (decided before the adoption of Rule 42) (stating that consolidation "does not does not merge the suits into a single cause, or change the rights of the parties, or make those who are parties in one suit parties in another"); Boardman Petroleum, Inc. v. Federated Mutual Ins. Co., 135 F.3d 750, 752 (11th Cir. 1998) (stating that "consolidation of cases under Fed. R. Civ. P. 42 does not strip the cases of their individual identities"). Any confusion on the part of Griggs should have been cleared up by the court's order giving Griggs two weeks to file a motion to intervene in the lead case. (Doc. # 40, n.3.) 1 2 As the sole basis for its motion to intervene, Griggs contends that, given IP's claim a g a in s t Griggs in the state court, "there is a distinct possibility of a double recovery by IP." (D o c . # 41, 8.) However, there is no indication that IP would seek, let alone receive, d o u b le recovery if this case were allowed to move forward. IP itself characterizes Griggs' c o n te n tio n as "absurd" and states that it "is not seeking a double recovery and, of course, is n o t entitled to it." (Doc. # 43, at 3.) During the hearing on the motion to intervene, counsel f o r Griggs made the additional argument that a ruling on the motions pending in the instant a c tio n would affect Griggs' interests in the state case and the 05 and 07 federal cases. However, because Griggs has failed to explain what that interest would be or how that i n t e re s t would be affected, the court finds that Griggs has not shown that it "claims an in te re s t relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action" or that " d is p o s in g of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede" its ability to protect any in te re s t it might have. Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2). 2. P e rm is s iv e Intervention R u le 24(b) allows intervention for those who have "a claim or defense that shares with th e main action a common question of law or fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(1)(B). It is unclear w h a t Griggs' claim or defense would be in the instant action, as Griggs has moved to in te rv e n e for the sole purpose of requesting a stay. The rule makes no mention of intervening f o r this purpose,2 and Griggs provides no authority for granting the motion on this basis. As 2 Rule 24(c) refers to pleadings, not motions. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(c) ("The motion must state the grounds for intervention and be accompanied by a pleading that sets out the claim or defense for 3 noted by the parties on various occasions and despite the apparent procedural complexity o f the instant matter the issue before the court is a simple and narrow one: whether QBE o r Canal owes indemnity and defense to IP. As stated by IP, QBE, and Canal, a ruling on t h i s issue will have no bearing on Griggs' interests in the underlying state action or the re la te d federal actions. Griggs' blanket statement that its interests somehow "might be a f f e c te d " is insufficient to prolong this protracted litigation any further. III. CONCLUSION F o r the foregoing reasons, Griggs' motions to intervene and stay (Doc. # 41) are D E N IE D .3 D O N E this 31st day of March, 2010. /s/ W. Keith Watkins UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE which intervention is sought."). It is the practice of this district for all parties in consolidated cases to receive electronic notice of filings in all consolidated cases, whether or not a particular party is a party to all the cases. 3 4

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