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Tweedle v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

February 9, 2007

KATHERINE TWEEDLE PLAINTIFF
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY DEFENDANT



ORDER

Before the Court are the following motions:

* Plaintiff Katherine Tweedle's motions to proceed against corporate surety (docs. #197 & #213);

* Intervenor John Stansel Harvey's Motion to Intervene (doc. #198) and Supplemental Motion to Intervene (doc. #205);

* Defendant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company's ("State Farm") Second Motion to Amend Judgment (doc. #201);

* Tweedle's motions to enforce the judgment (docs. #204 & #214); and

* Tweedle's Motion to Dismiss or Strike the Motion to Intervene (doc. #216).

The Court will address each motion separately.

I. Motions Regarding Intervention

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed this case in November 2006 (doc. #191). In December 2006, Harvey filed a motion to intervene, claiming an interest in the property and insurance contract and, thus, an interest in the insurance proceeds (doc. #198). On December 19, the Court held a telephone hearing with Tweedle, State Farm, and Harvey to discuss how to proceed. Prior to the hearing, State Farm tendered a check to Tweedle, Tweedle's counsel, and Harvey as payees. Both Tweedle and Harvey were insured under the insurance policy. At the hearing, Harvey conceded any interest in the personal property proceeds but claimed an interest in the principal amount of the house, the interest on the principal, and the 12% penalty provided for under Arkansas law. The Court ordered State Farm deposit with the Court, as provided in Fed. R. Civ. P. 67, the amount in which Harvey claimed an interest to allow the Court time to decide how to proceed with the Motion to Intervene. The Court also ordered a separate check be paid to Tweedle and her counsel for proceeds of the personal property, interest on the personal property, and attorney's fees and costs.

Rule 24(a), Fed. R. Civ. P., provides for intervention of interested parties:

Upon timely application anyone shall be permitted to intervene in an action: (1) when a statute of the United States confers an unconditional right to intervene; or (2) 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.

Before Harvey may intervene in a lawsuit, he must prove several requirements. First, Harvey must show his motion is timely. Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians v. State of Minn., 989 F.2d 994, 998 (8th Cir. 1993). When deciding if the motion was timely, the Court must consider "the reason for the proposed intervenor's delay in seeking intervention, how far the litigation has progressed before the motion to intervene is filed, and how much prejudice the delay in seeking intervention may cause to other parties if intervention is allowed." Id. However, no bright line exists for when a motion is untimely, id., and intervention after judgment has been entered is not unusual. Jochims v. Isuzu Motors, Ltd., 148 F.R.D. 624, 627 (S.D. Iowa 1993). Finally, Harvey must meet the three substantive elements of Rule 24(a): "1) the party must have a recognized interest in the subject matter of the litigation; 2) that interest must be one that might be impaired by the disposition of the litigation; and 3) the interest must not be adequately protected by the existing parties." Mille Lacs Band, 989 F.2d at 997.

Tweedle argues that Harvey's motion is untimely. Regarding the first timeliness factor, Harvey notes that had the jury concluded Tweedle had committed arson, he would not have prevailed in an insurance claim. Because Tweedle could adequately defend his rights at that point, Harvey had no reason to join the lawsuit. The Court finds this is a legitimate concern. Harvey could not be expected to expend his resources when State Farm suspected Tweedle, not him, of wrongdoing.

Regarding the current stage of litigation, this case is almost complete. However, as in Jochims, intervention may be proper after judgment. Therefore, the ...


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