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Schoenborn v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

November 26, 2007

GREGORY E. SCHOENBORN, AS ERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF MARTHA S. CHOENBORN, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 22

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PIFER'S MOTION TO INTERVENE

I. INTRODUCTION

Kimberly Pifer seeks to intervene in pending wrongful death and survival actions brought by Pifer's step-father, Gregory Schoenborn, following the death of Pifer's mother, Martha Schoenborn. Because Pifer does not have a legally cognizable interest under the Survival Act, D.C. Code § 12-101, the court denies Pifer's request to intervene in that action. But, because Pifer's interest may be adverse to Gregory Schoenborn's interest in seeking compensation under the Wrongful Death Act, D.C. Code § 16-2701, the court grants Pifer's motion to intervene pursuant to the conditions set forth below.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 14, 2007, Martha Schoenborn was crossing Pennsylvania Avenue and 7th Street N.W., Washington, D.C., when a bus struck and killed her. Compl. ¶¶ 7, 10. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, owned the bus and employed the driver, Victor Kolako, who was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the incident. Compl. ¶ 9.

On March 19, 2007, Gregory Schoenborn, the husband and legal representative of Martha Schoenborn, filed a wrongful death and survival action against the defendant. Pifer's motion, filed on August 31, 2007, requests that the court allow her to intervene in these actions.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for a Motion to Intervene

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 sets forth the requirements for intervention as of right. FED. R. CIV. P. 24; Fund for Animals, Inc. v. Norton, 322 F.3d 728, 731 (D.C. Cir. 2003). Rule 24(a) provides for intervention as of right, stating that

[u]pon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action . . . when a statute of the United States confers an unconditional right to intervene; or . . . when the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action and the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest, unless the applicant's interest is adequately represented by existing parties.

Id. As paraphrased by the D.C. Circuit, the rule indicates that an applicant's right to intervene depends on "(1) the timeliness of the motion; (2) whether the applicant claims an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) whether the applicant is so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the applicant's ability to protect that interest; and (4) whether the applicant's interest is adequately represented by existing parties." Fund for Animals, 322 F.3d at 731; see also Jones v. Prince George's County, Md., 348 F.3d 1014, 1017 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (listing the four elements of Rule 24(a) as "timeliness, interest, impairment of interest, and adequacy of representation"). An applicant "must satisfy all four elements of the Rule in order to intervene as of right" and must demonstrate that she has standing. Jones, 348 F.3d at 1017-19; Fund for Animals, 322 F.3d at 731-32.

B. The Court Denies Pifer's Motion to Intervene in the Survival Action

Pifer requests to intervene because she has an interest in the disposition of the survival action since any recovery would allegedly compensate her for injuries she sustained. Pifer's Mot. to Intervene ("Pifer's Mot.") at 4. The plaintiff, Gregory Schoenborn, retorts that Pifer "misstate[s] the law" in arguing that the Survival Act provides compensation for her personal injuries and insists that she should not be permitted to intervene in ...


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