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Gooch v. Packaging Corporation of America Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

September 23, 2019

DERRICK GOOCH, ET AL.
v.
PACKAGING CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC., ET AL.

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR., JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHLEEN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion for Leave to File Complaint in Intervention filed by National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford (“National Fire.”). Doc. 28. The motion is supported by plaintiff Derrick G. Gooch, individually and on behalf of Jody L. Gooch. Doc. 31. The motion is opposed by defendant Packaging Corporation of America, Inc. (“PCA.”). Doc. 32. This motion has been referred to the undersigned for review, report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636.

         For the reasons stated below, IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Motion for Leave to File Complaint in Intervention be DENIED.

         I.

         Background

         This case arises from an explosion that occurred on February 8, 2017, during an annual maintenance outage at the paper mill owned by PCA in DeRidder, Louisiana, and resulted in the death of plaintiff's father, Jody L. Gooch. Doc. 1, att. 8, p. 3. According to the complaint, the decedent was a welder who had been contracted by PCA to conduct repairs, including “hot work, ” at the mill. Id. at 3-4. On February 2, 2018, plaintiff, a Texas resident, filed suit in the 36th Judicial District Court, Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. Id. at 3. He named as defendants PCA, a corporation with citizenship in Delaware and Illinois, Floyd J. LeBleu and Raymond Lester, both of whom are residents of Louisiana; and James Machine Works, LLC (“JMW”), “a Louisiana limited liability company with its principal place of business located in the Parish of Ouachita, State of Louisiana.” Id. On March 5, 2018, PCA removed the action to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. Although plaintiff sought remand asserting that LeBleu, Lester and JMW destroyed diversity [doc. 11], we found all three to be an improperly joined parties [doc. 14] and on November 14, 2018 all claims asserted against them were dismissed without prejudice. Doc. 21.

         On March 18, 2019, National Fire, an Illinois citizen[1], filed the instant Motion for Leave to File Complaint in Intervention. Doc. 28. It asserts that it has paid sums in indemnity and medical to and on the behalf of plaintiff pursuant to National Fire's policy of worker's compensation issued to Jody L. Gooch's employer, Elite Industrial Services, LLC. See Id. at att. 1, p. 1. It claims its intervention is necessary to protect its interests. See Id. at 2, 5-6. The intervention is supported by plaintiff [doc. 31] however PCA opposes, initially arguing intervention was untimely, and that National Fire already has a remedy established under Texas law for reimbursement of benefits paid. Doc. 32, pp. 2-3. Then on May 9, 2019, PCA filed a Supplemental Response in Opposition to National Fire's Motion for Leave to File Complaint in Intervention. Doc. 35. PCA now argues that National Fire has no interest in this suit because the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Workers' Compensation found that Derick Gooch was not a proper legal beneficiary of Jody L. Gooch [id.]. PCA evidences this with a copy of the court's decision and order. Id. at att. 1.

         II.

         Law & Analysis

         Intervention of right is governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 24(a). Fed.R.Civ.p. 24. Rule 24(a)(1) permits intervention of right when a federal statute grants “an unconditional right to intervene, ” and Rule 24(a)(2) permits intervention when a prospective intervenor “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.” National Fire has asserted no federal statute giving it “an unconditional right to intervene, ” so at issue is only whether it can intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2).

         To intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2) the prospective intervenor must meet each of four requirements:

(1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede his ability to protect that interest; (4) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the existing parties to the suit.

Texas v. U.S., 805 F.3d 653');">805 F.3d 653, 657 (5th Cir. 2015) (citing New Orleans Public Service, Inc. v. UnitedGas Pipe Line Co., 452');">732 F.2d 452, 463 (5th Cir. 1984)). “[F]ailure to satisfy any one element precludes the applicant's right to intervene.” Ross v. ...


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