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Krause v. County of Mohave

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 9, 2018

Sharline Krause, Plaintiff,
County of Mohave, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi, United States District Judge.

         At issue is Ryan Andrew Krause's (“Movant”) Motion to Intervene (Doc. 12, Mot.), to which Defendants have filed a Response (Doc. 16, Resp.), and to which Movant has filed a Reply (Doc. 17, Reply). Plaintiff Sharline Krause did not file a responsive brief, and thus neither takes a position opposing or in support of the Motion. Because Movant is already party to this action, the Court denies the Motion to Intervene.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter stems from the death of Drey Krause (“Decedent”)-Plaintiff's son and Movant's father-during a confrontation with deputies from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office on February 13, 2017. Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on September 14, 2017, and amended her Complaint on October 5, 2017. Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains five claims, four of which Plaintiff brings under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the alleged violation of her own Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process rights. (Doc. 7, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 67-131.) Plaintiff additionally asserts a claim of wrongful death under Arizona state law on behalf of herself and decedent's statutory beneficiaries, including Movant. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 132-137.) Movant now requests to intervene in the action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2).[1]

         II. ANALYSIS

         In Arizona, an action for wrongful death may be brought by “the surviving husband or wife, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative of the deceased person for and on behalf of” the deceased's statutory beneficiaries. A.R.S. § 12-612A. Although the statute permits a number of parties to initiate such a suit, it “contemplates that claims by all statutory beneficiaries be consolidated in a single action. Wilmot v. Wilmot, 58 P.3d 507, 511 (Ariz. 2002). Thus, “[a] wrongful death action . . . is one action for damages with one plaintiff and one judgment.” Id. (emphasis added) (quoting Begay v. City of Tucson, 715 P.2d 761 (Ariz. 1986)); see also Forbes v. 21st Century Ins. Co., No. CV-08-884-PHX-ROS, 2010 WL 11512381, at *2 (D. Ariz. Jan 5, 2010).

         That statutory beneficiaries are not named plaintiffs “does not preclude them from being ‘parties' to the litigation.” Austin v. City of Scottsdale, 684 P.2d 151, 152 (Ariz. 1984). However, the single plaintiff rule significantly restricts a non-plaintiff beneficiary's participation in the matter. See Williams v. Superior Court, 820 P.2d 332, 334 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1991). Under this rule, statutory beneficiaries may participate only in the damages portion of the litigation as of right. Id. Nevertheless, a beneficiary, along with counsel, is entitled to attend depositions pertaining to a defendant's liability, even though that party's participation in those depositions is limited to aspects relating to the beneficiary's damages. Id. at 333-34.

         Although the statutory plaintiff drives the liability phase of litigation, he owes a fiduciary duty “to the other beneficiaries, both in conducting and settling the action and making distribution of proceeds to each of the other beneficiaries at the conclusion.” Wilmot, 58 P.3d at 512. Thus, the plaintiff may push the matter to settlement; however, the remaining beneficiaries must agree to any settlement. Id. “Consent from the other beneficiaries does not necessarily need to be a formal agreement . . ., [but] the consent must be expressly given or manifested.” Id.

         Thus, notwithstanding the Motion to Intervene, Movant is already a party to this action because he alleges to be one of Decedent's statutory beneficiaries. Defendants concede this point. (Resp. at 3.) Dissatisfied by the rights afforded to him under Arizona law, Movant seeks an expanded role that would allow him to “ensure . . . that all viable claims are asserted, that all responsible persons are made parties to the action, [and] that all admissible evidence is presented in the litigation.” (Mot. at 5.) Additionally, Movant seeks the right “to participate in any court-ordered alternative dispute resolution proceeding” and “to obtain discovery such that he may prove his damages occasioned by Decedent's death.”[2] (Mot. at 5.) Accordingly, the Court must determine whether Movant should be permitted an increased role by way of intervention.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 provides for two types of intervention: intervention as of right and permissive intervention. Movant, however, bases his Motion solely on intervention as of right under Rule 24(a)(2). The Ninth Circuit outlines four requirements for Rule 24(a)(2) intervention:

(1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have a “significant protectable” interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the transaction; (3) the applicant must be 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) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the existing parties in the lawsuit.

Nw. Forest Res. Council v. Glickman, 82 F.3d 825, 838 (9th Cir. 1996). The movant's failure to satisfy any single one of these four factors is fatal to a motion to intervene under Rule 24(a)(2). Perry v. Proposition 8 Official Proponents, 587 F.3d 947, 950 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Because it is dispositive, the Court addresses only whether the existing parties will adequately represent Movant's interest. “Where an applicant for intervention and an existing party ‘have the same ultimate objective, a presumption of adequacy of representation arises.'” Nw. Forest Res. Council, 82 F.3d at 838 (quoting Ore. Envtl. Council v. Ore. Dep't of Envtl. Quality, 775 F.Supp. 353, 359 (D. Ore. 1991)). The moving party thus bears the burden of demonstrating that the existing party does not adequately represent its interest. Id.

         Here, Movant offers two bases to show that Plaintiff is incapable of representing his interest. First, Movant suggests that Plaintiff's age disqualifies her, going so far as to argue that “[P]laintiff's advanced age puts her at a disadvantage to the youthful Ryan.” (Reply at 3.) Even ignoring the unwarranted generalizations embedded within Movant's briefs, this line of argument is utterly unpersuasive and looks past the fact that licensed counsel represents Plaintiff in the ...

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