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Lejeune v. Sany America, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 10, 2017

RICHARD LEJEUNE, JR.
v.
SANY AMERICA, INC.

          RULING AND ORDER ON EX PARTE MOTION TO INTERVENE

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is an Ex Parte Motion to Intervene (the “Motion to Intervene”), [1] filed by Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation (“LWCC”). LWCC seeks to intervene in this suit pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a). The deadline for filing an opposition to the Motion to Intervene has passed and no party has opposed the motion.

         For the reasons set forth herein, LWCC's Motion to Intervene is GRANTED.[2]

I. Background

         On January 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed suit in state court against defendant, Sany America, Inc. (“Sany”). The Petition for Damages alleges that Plaintiff was employed for Deep South Crane Company as a crane oiler and rigger. On the date of the incident, Plaintiff states that he was working as part of a crew lifting and stacking crane counterweights when a construction defect in one of the cranes being used cause the lead of counterweights to “shift towards Petitioner, strike Petitioner in the face and head, and momentarily pin his head between the lead of counterweights and the other stacked counterweights.”[3] Plaintiff alleges the crane at issue was manufactured by Sany.[4] On March 8, 2017, Sany removed this suit on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.[5]

         Per LWCC's proposed Complaint of Intervention, LWCC was the worker's compensation carrier for Deep South Crane and Rigging, LLC, Plaintiff's employer at the time of the accident.[6]LWCC states that it “has paid medical, and indemnity benefits and related expenses for the injuries [Plaintiff] received in excess of Two Hundred Thirty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty-Three and 76/100 ($232, 723.76) Dollars to and on behalf of plaintiff at the time of filing this intervention.” LWCC asserts its right to reimbursement under La. R.S. 23:1021, et seq., and seeks indemnification for all sums it has paid and will continue to pay from the date of the accident through the date of judgment.[7]

         II. Law and Analysis

         LWCC seeks to intervene in this suit under Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a).[8] That section provides that on “timely motion” the court must permit intervention by anyone who is either (1) given an unconditional right to intervene by 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.” LWCC does not assert that a federal statute grants it an unconditional right to intervene; instead, it moves for intervention under Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)(2).[9]

         A. Timeliness of the Motion to Intervene

         “Whether leave to intervene is sought under section (a) or (b) of Rule 24, the application must be timely.” Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 263 (5th Cir. 1977). The timeliness of a motion to intervene is a matter committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. McDonald v. E.J. Lavino, 430 F.2d 1065, 1071 (5th Cir. 1970). Timeliness “is not limited to chronological considerations but ‘is to be determined from all the circumstances.'” Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 263 (5th Cir. 1977). The Fifth Circuit has set forth four factors to consider when evaluating whether a motion to intervene is timely: (1) the length of time during which the proposed intervenor should have known of his interest in the case before he petitioned to intervene; (2) the extent of prejudice that those parties already in the litigation would suffer “as a result of the would-be intervenor's failure to apply for intervention as soon as he actually knew or reasonably should have known of his interest in the case;” (3) the extent of prejudice to the proposed intervenor if he is not allowed to intervene; and (4) the existence of “unusual circumstances militating either for or against a determination that the application is timely.” Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 754 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Stall worth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 264-266 (5th Cir. 1977)).

         Here, Plaintiff filed his initial suit on January 31, 2017.[10] The case was removed to this court on March 8, 2017.[11] LWCC first sought leave to intervene in this matter on May 4, 2017.[12]No party has asserted the Motion to Intervene is untimely. Most importantly, this suit is still in its early stages. A Scheduling Order was issued on May 3, 2017, however, the deadline for completion of fact discovery is not until March 15, 2018.[13] Further, the trial in this matter is not set until February 25, 2019. Under these circumstances, LWCC's Motion to Intervene is timely.

         B. Intervention of Right

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)(2), a party is entitled to intervene in a pending lawsuit when: (1) the motion to intervene is timely; (2) the potential intervenor asserts an interest that is related to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action in which he seeks to intervene; (3) the potential intervenor is so situated that disposition of the case may as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect his interest; and (4) the parties already in the action do not adequately protect the potential intervenor's interest. Ford v. City of Huntsville, 242 F.3d 235, 239 (5th Cir. 2001). As discussed above LWCC's Motion to Intervene is timely.

         Pursuant to the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act, “[i]f either the employee…or the employer or insurer bring suits against a third person…he shall forthwith notify the other in writing of such fact and of the name of the court in which the suit is filed, and such other may intervene as party plaintiff in the suit.” La. R.S. §23:1102(A). “Although the statute provides that the other may intervene as a party plaintiff if either the employee or the employer brings suit against a third person (tortfeasor), Louisiana jurisprudence holds that an employer's failure to intervene in a suit filed by the employee, after proper notice, bars the employer from bringing a separate suit against a third party tortfeasor.” Houston General Ins. Co. v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 649 So.2d 776, 782 (La.App. 1 Cir. 1994) (citing Roche v. Big Moose Oil Field Truck Service, 381 So.2d 396, 401 (La. 1980) (“If an employee files suit for damages from a third party tortfeasor, an employer seeking reimbursement of compensation paid must intervene in the pending lawsuit….”)) (emphasis in original). See also, Senac v. Sandefer, 418 So.2d 543, 545 n. 1 (La. 1982) (“The employer's compensation insurer failed to intervene in this action and is thus barred from claiming reimbursement of the benefits paid to the plaintiff.”); Chevalier v. Reliance Ins. Co. of Illinois, 953 F.2d 877, 883 (5th Cir. 1992) (“There is no doubt that, under Louisiana law, a compensation carrier or employer must generally be a party to the suit between a tortfeasor's carrier and tort plaintiff in order to collect reimbursement for workers' compensation from the successful tort plaintiff's judgment.”); Allstate Indem. Co. v. Knighten, 705 So.2d 240, ...


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