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Nytda, Inc. v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 28, 2014

NYTDA, Inc. a/k/a New York Trucking and Delivery Association, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, District Judge.

This case concerns a dispute over the administration of the City of New York's Stipulated Fine Program, by which owners of delivery and service vehicle fleets can pay reduced fines if they do not contest their vehicles' alleged violations. Plaintiff New York Trucking and Delivery Association ("NYTDA") alleges that the program was administered in bad faith for a period between 2006 and 2010, leading to a windfall for Defendant City. (Compl. (Dkt. 1).) Plaintiff's ability to serve as class representative was this thrown into question after the court ruled that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring certain claims in this action on behalf of its members. (Mem. & Order (Dkt. 87).)

Lockman, Inc., an NYTDA member, now seeks leave to intervene in this action. (Oct. 25, 2013, Mot. to Intervene (Dkt. 91).) Lockman is a security systems company that owns and operates commercial vehicles in New York City. (Lockman, Inc.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Intervene ("Mem. in Supp.") (Dkt. 92) at 4.) If allowed to intervene, it anticipates stepping into the place left by NYTDA and pursuing class certification. (Compl. in Intervention, Ex. A to Mot. to Intervene (Dkt. 91-1) ¶¶ 121-130.) Lockman's motion to intervene is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

Plaintiff, an association of delivery companies based in New York City, brought this lawsuit to challenge the City's administration of its Stipulated Fine Program. The New York Trucking and Delivery Association (NYTDA) administers the program on behalf of its members. (Compl. ¶¶ 14-17, 22.) Under the program, vehicle owners agree not to contest fines received by their vehicles in return for paying a fraction of the ticket price. (Compl. ¶¶ 64, 67.) That fraction is based on the percentage of tickets that are typically dismissed if contested. (Id. ¶¶ 67-68.) In its class action complaint, NYTDA alleges that the City's traffic enforcement agents routinely ticketed commercial vehicles illegally from May 2006 to October 2010. (Id. ¶ 3.) In particular, vehicles were ticketed for "traffic lane" violations, when they should not have been ticketed or should have been ticketed only for double parking, a violation with a stipulated fine of $0.00. (Lockman Inc.'s Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Intervene ("Mem. in Supp.") (Dkt. 92) at 2-3.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff NYTDA originally brought its Complaint on behalf of itself and its members on April 14, 2011. (Compl.) Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint, but were rebuffed. (Mot. to Dismiss (Dkt. 15); Nov. 10, 2011, Order (Dkt. 27).) Defendants then moved for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on October 9, 2012, arguing that NYTDA lacked standing to sue. (Dkt. 76.)

On August 27, 2013, the court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion. (Mem. & Order.) The court recognized NYTDA's standing to bring suit for its own damages in the form of lost profits and expenses related to the Stipulated Fine Program and subsequent lawsuit. (Id. at 14.) However, it held that NYTDA could not use the grants of power of attorney from its members to assert standing on their behalf. (Id. at 9-13.) This judgment precipitated potential intervenor Lockman, Inc.'s present motion. (Mem. in Supp. at 3.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Lockman seeks to intervene as of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a). Despite the late date, it argues that it was not on notice that NYTDA could not adequately represent it until the court's August 27, 2013, ruling. (Id. at 8.) Lockman argues that it has a clearly cognizable interest that is not now adequately protected. (Id. at 9-11.)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) requires courts to permit anyone to intervene on timely motion who: "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 movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest." To intervene as of right, "an applicant must (1) timely file an application, (2) show an interest in the action, (3) demonstrate that the interest may be impaired by the disposition of the action, and (4) show that the interest is not protected adequately by the parties to the action." New York News, Inc. v. Kheel, 972 F.2d 482, 485-88 (2d Cir. 1992). "Failure to satisfy any one of these requirements is sufficient grounds to deny the application." Id . (citations omitted).

In the alternative, Lockman seeks intervention by permission under Rule 24(b), which states in pertinent part that "on timely motion, the court may permit anyone to intervene who... has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact." An application for permissive intervention requires the court to consider "substantially the same factors" as for an application for intervention of right. See In re Bank of N.Y. Derivative Litigation, 320 F.3d 291, 300 & n.5 (2d Cir.2003). Permissive intervention, however, is committed to the discretion of the trial court. See U.S. Postal Serv. v. Brennan, 579 F.2d 188, 191 (2d Cir.1978). In exercising its discretion, the court should consider whether intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties and whether parties seeking intervention will significantly contribute to full development of the underlying factual issues in the suit and to the just and ...


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