Menu Close

A January 26, 2020, helicopter crash in Calabasas, California resulted in the deaths of Kobe Bryant; his minor daughter, six other passengers, and the pilot.

One of the passengers was Christina Mauser, who was in the course and scope of her employment as a basketball coach for Sports Academy, LLC, insured for workers’ compensation benefits by The Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company. Hartford paid funeral and burial costs, and death benefits.

The Mauser Plaintiffs filed their Complaint for Damages with the Superior Court of California against various parties they alleged were responsible for the incident.. When the United States was named as a defendant in the action, it removed the case to the Federal Central District of California on September 30, 2020. Motions to remand to state court were denied.

On July 9, 2021, Hartford filed its Intervention Motion in the federal case after tentative settlements had been reached in the case. On July 22, 2021, the United States Government filed its Opposition to Hartford’s Intervention Motion on the basis that it did not present an administrative claim against it and there was no jurisdiction. No other parties opposed the Intervention Motion.

On November 10, 2021, the federal court issued its Orders granting the Mauser Plaintiffs’ Petitions for Minors’ Compromise and denying Hartfords July 9 Intervention Motion.

An appeal of the denial was filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On June 14, 2022 Hartford filed it’s Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss the Appeal.

On appeal, Hartford had argued that error was made in the original denial of Hartford’s Motion “because the Court based its determination that the Intervention Motion was untimely on federal procedural law, instead of substantive state law. California Labor Code § 3853 specifically provides that a motion to intervene pursuant to California Labor Code § 3850, et seq. is timely if it is filed at any time before trial on the facts.”

In denying the Motion to Intervene, the trial court found that intervention is not appropriate, either as of right or permissively.

With respect to intervention as of right, a court must permit any party to intervene in a lawsuit who “claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action.Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2). Rule 24(a)2 is broadly construed in favor of intervention. The Ninth Circuit employs four criteria to determine whether intervention under Rule 24(a) is appropriate: (1) the motion to intervene must be timely; (2) the applicant must have a significantly protectable interest related to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be situated such that the disposition of the action may impair or impede the applicant’s ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant’s interest must not be adequately represented by the existing parties.

Sports Academy and Hartford acknowledge, the Mauser plaintiffs initially filed their complaint on April 20, 2020, and their action was removed to federal court on September 30, 2020. Sports Academy and Hartford do not explain why they waited until over a year after Mauser plaintiffs filed their action – and more than nine months after it was removed to federal court – before filing the instant Motion. Thus, the court found that the Motion was untimely.

Having failed to satisfy at least two of the requirements for intervention pursuant to Rule 24(a), the court was not persuaded that Sports Academy and Hartford have met their burden for intervention as of right.

With respect to permissive intervention under Rule 24(b), a court may grant permissive intervention where: (1) the applicant shows independent grounds for jurisdiction; (2) the motion is timely; and (3) the applicant’s claim or defense and the main action share a common question of law of fact. In exercising its discretion on an application for permissive intervention, the court “must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties’ rights. Because the court finds this unexplained delay renders the Motion untimely and risks delaying or prejudicing the adjudication of the original parties’ rights, the court declines Sports Academy and Hartford’s request for permissive intervention.