Beattie et al v. Line Mountain School District
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 15 MOTION to Intervene filed by PENNSYLVANIA WRESTLING CLUB, INC. Signed by Honorable Matthew W. Brann on 11/20/13. (lg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
BRIAN BEATTIE, ANGIE
BEATTIE, on behalf of their Minor
LINE MOUNTAIN SCHOOL
Civ. No. 4:13-CV-02655
November 20, 2013
Before the Court is the Pennsylvania Wrestling Club, Inc.’s (“Movant”)
motion to intervene (ECF No. 15) in the lawsuit filed by Brian Beattie and Angie
Beattie, on behalf of their minor daughter, A.B. (“Plaintiff”), against the Line
Mountain School District (ECF No. 1). For the reasons that follow, the Movant’s
motion is denied.
Brian and Angie Beattie (together, “the Beatties”) filed a complaint on
behalf of their minor daughter, A.B., against the Line Mountain School District
(“Line Mountain”) to challenge Line Mountain’s refusal to allow A.B. to
participate on the wrestling team because of her sex. Pl.’s Compl. ¶ 1, Oct. 28,
2013, ECF No. 1. A.B. is a seventh grade student at Line Mountain Middle
School. Id. ¶ 7. She began wrestling in third grade, and was a member of the
LeMars, Iowa, Wrestling club in the fourth and fifth grades. Id. ¶¶ 9–10. There,
she practiced with both boys and girls, and competed against boys, in
approximately four tournaments per year with apparently considerable success.
Id. ¶ 10.
In the summer of 2012, the Beattie family moved to Herndon, Pennsylvania,
and A.B. began attending Line Mountain Elementary School that autumn. Id. ¶¶
11–12. During the 2012–2013 school year, A.B. wrestled on Line Mountain’s
youth wrestling team that was open to students through sixth grade, on which she
practiced and competed against boys and another girl. Id. ¶¶ 13–14.
A.B. wanted to continue wrestling when she began seventh grade at Line
Mountain Middle School in the fall of 2013. Id. ¶ 15. Because the Middle School
does not have a girls’ wrestling team, Angie Beattie asked the wrestling coach if
A.B. could participate. Id. ¶ 17. Coach Darin Keim allegedly responded that
school policy prohibited girls from wrestling on the middle and high school teams,
and that she would have to petition the School Board to change the policy. Id. ¶
17. The School District’s policy allegedly “prohibits female participation on male
varsity, junior varsity and junior high interscholastic athletics, except when any
such team is specifically designated a co-ed team by the administration with the
formal approval of the School Board.” Id. ¶19. Despite the Beatties’ repeated
petitions for the School Board to change the policy to allow A.B. to wrestle on the
team, their requests were repeatedly denied. Id. ¶¶ 24–29. Consequently, the
Beatties now challenge Line Mountain’s policy under the Equal Protection Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. §
1983, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Id. ¶ 1.
To the surprise of both parties, Pennsylvania Wrestling Club, Inc. recently
filed the motion to intervene now under consideration. M. Intervene Pennsylvania
Wrestling Club, Inc., Nov. 13, 2013, ECF No. 15 [hereinafter M. Inter.]. The
Movant seeks to intervene as of right, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
24(a)(2), claiming that it has an indispensable interest in the litigation. M. Inter.
¶1. The Movant claims an interest both in protecting A.B. from injury resulting
from wrestling with boys that may derail her potential future Olympic career (a
prospect the Movant espouses), as well as a statutory duty given the structure of
its organization to “protect the opportunity of any amateur athlete, coach, trainer,
manager, administrator, or official to participate in amateur athletic competition.”
36 U.S.C. § 220503(8); M. Inter. ¶ 2, 3.
The Movant also seeks to join the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic
Association, Inc. (“PIAA”) as a necessary party under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 19(a)(1)(A). The PIAA is a statewide body governing scholastic
athletics that maintains authority over all Pennsylvania school districts in the
realm of athletics. Br. Supp. M. Intervene 5, Nov. 13, 2013, ECF No. 15
[hereinafter Br. Supp.]. Attempting to expand this case beyond the confines of the
existing controversy, the Movant seeks to join PIAA so that it can persuade the
Court “to exercise its ‘broad’ equitable powers . . . and compel Pennsylvania to . .
. establish a statewide women’s wrestling program.” Id. at 6. The Court now
considers the law in light of the Movant’s requests.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 regarding “Intervention of Right”
[o]n timely motion, the court must permit anyone
to intervene who . . . 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)(2).
“A movant seeking to intervene under Rule 24(a)(2) must satisfy the
following requirements: “(1) the application for intervention is timely; (2) the
applicant has a sufficient interest in the litigation; (3) the interest may be affected
or impaired, as a practical matter, by the disposition of the action; and (4) the
interest is not adequately represented by an existing party in the litigation.”
Benjamin ex rel. Yock v. Dep't of Pub. Welfare of Pennsylvania, 701 F.3d 938,
948 (3d Cir. 2012) (internal quotations and citation omitted). Furthermore,
“[f]ailure to satisfy any one requirement precludes intervention of right.” Haspel
& Davis Milling & Planting Co. Ltd. v. Bd. of Levee Comm’rs, 493 F.3d 570, 578
(5th Cir. 2007); see also New York News, Inc. v. Kheel, 972 F.2d 482, 485–86 (2d
In the matter at hand, the most pertinent prong of this test is the existence of
the applicant’s “sufficient interest in the litigation,” or the lack thereof. See
Benjamin, 701 F.3d at 948. To intervene as a matter of right, an applicant’s
interest must be substantial, “capable of definition, and will be directly affected in
a substantially concrete fashion by the relief sought.” Kleissler v. U.S. Forest
Service, 157 F.3d 964, 972 (3d Cir. 1988). “The polestar for evaluating a claim for
intervention is always whether the proposed intervenor’s interest is direct or
Moreover, non-property interests, including even indirect economic interests,
are often not sufficient to satisfy the interest requirement. See, e.g., Liberty Mut.
Ins. Co. v. Treesdale, Inc., 419 F.3d 216, 226–27 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding that
persons with claims against insured were not entitled to intervene in insurance
coverage declaratory judgment action); Curry v. Regents of Univ. Of Minn., 167
F.3d 420, 422–23 (8th Cir. 1999) (finding, in a suit challenging the use of student
fees for funding, an organization’s economic interest in upholding a current fee
system to fund student organizations was not a sufficient interest); New Orleans
Pub. Serv., Inc. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co., 732 F.2d 456, 466 (5th Cir. 1984)
(finding that city officials and customers did not have a sufficient interest to
intervene in a dispute over price between the electric utility and gas supplier).
The Movant’s “interest” in the litigation is not sufficiently specific, definite,
or direct to warrant intervention as of right in this case. The Movant bases its
request partly on the general notion that it has an interest in the wrestling skills of
A.B. The Movant seeks to protect her wrestling ability from injury so that she may
fulfill the Movant’s dream of “a promising amateur wrestling career which the
Olympic movement desperately needs.” Br. Supp., at 6; M. Intervene ¶1. The
Movant hopes A.B. will be an Olympian in the year 2024, when she will be
twenty-three (23) years old. This interest is substantially more remote than direct,
and is not “a significantly protectable interest.”1 Donaldson v. United States, 400
U.S. 517, 531, 91 S. Ct. 534, 27 L. Ed. 2d 580 (1971). Consequently, it is not
sufficient grounds to intervene.
The Movant also attempts to argue that its organizational structure imposes a
statutory mandate to “protect the opportunity of any amateur athlete, coach, trainer,
manager, administrator or official to participate in amateur athletic competition,”
which includes a duty “to encourage and provide assistance to amateur athletic
activities for women.” 36 U.S.C. §§ 220503(8), (12); M. Intervene ¶ 2. That may
well be so. Nevertheless, if that interest is viewed as the foundation of the
Movant’s motion, it is “adequately represented by an existing party in the
litigation,” because the Plaintiff’s requested relief would fulfill those obligations in
this case and controversy. See, e.g., Benjamin, 701 F.3d at 948.
In actuality, it appears to this Court that the Movant is attempting to use the
underlying narrow dispute between the parties as a cause célèbre to acquire relief
that is substantially more expansive and significantly different than that which the
Moreover, it is not clear that the Movant would have standing given the remoteness of
its stated interest and potential injury, but that is generally considered a different analysis the
Court does not reach here. Frempong v. Nat’l City Bank of Indiana, 452 F. App'x 167, 172 (3d
Cir. 2011); Harris v. Pernsley, 820 F.2d 592, 602 (3d Cir. 1987); see also Diamond v. Charles,
476 U.S. 54, 68–69, 106 S. Ct. 1697, 1703, 90 L. Ed. 2d 48 (1986).
Plaintiff seeks. The existing parties to the litigation maintain differences in their
own dispute, but neither supports the Movant’s entry into this case.
The Movant’s primary goal in attempting to intervene is to join the
Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. (PIAA) as a “Required
Party” defendant in the lawsuit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1)(A),
with the hope of obtaining an order from this Court mandating the PIAA to
establish a statewide girls wrestling league. M. Inter. ¶ 3. The Rule reads:
Required party. A person who is subject to service
of process and whose joinder will not deprive the
court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined
as a party if:
in that person’s absence, the court cannot
accord complete relief among existing
FED. R. CIV. P. 19(a)(1). “Under the rule, a court must consider whether an absent
party is ‘necessary’ and ‘indispensable.’” Schulman v. J.P. Morgan Inv. Mgmt., 35
F.3d 799, 805 (3d Cir.).
Despite the Movant’s assertions, the Court can “accord complete relief
among existing parties” and need not join PIAA to do so. FED. R. CIV. P
19(a)(1)(A). The Plaintiff seeks only to wrestle on the existing wrestling team at
Line Mountain—a result the Court can effectuate among the current parties if the
merits of the case implore that resolution.
PIAA has not taken any actions to actively obstruct that result, nor does it
have a stated policy that prohibits it. PIAA’s own bylaws state: “PIAA has no
rules that deal with the participation of boys and girls on the same athletic Team or
with boys and girls Practicing together for interscholastic athletics. PIAA
therefore does not prohibit such combined participation or Practicing.”
Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. Constitution and Bylaws,
2013–2014, at 96. Consequently, PIAA does not impede the Plaintiff’s requested
relief, and the Court may provide it without joining PIAA as a defendant if the
merits so warrant. The only party necessary to effectuate the Plaintiff’s requested
relief is the Defendant, Line Mountain School District, which has the policy
established that impedes the Plaintiff’s request. PIAA is neither necessary nor
indispensable and shall not be joined.
For the reasons discussed, the Movant’s motion to intervene (ECF No. 15) is
denied. An appropriate Order follows.
BY THE COURT:
/s Matthew W. Brann
Matthew W. Brann
United States District Judge
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