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Mausolf v. Babbitt

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21317
Nos. 95-1201MN, 85 F.3d 1295/(8th Cir., 06/03/1996) denial of intervention reversed

The court holds that parties attempting to intervene under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24 must have standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, and orders a district court to allow a conservation association to intervene in a suit by snowmobilers to enjoin snowmobiling restrictions in Voyageurs National Park. The court first holds that although the district court already granted summary judgment to the snowmobilers, the question of intervention is not moot, because the association has appealed this judgment. The court next notes that Article III limits the judicial power to cases and controversies, and that an Article III controversy is one in which all parties have standing. Because a would-be intervenor seeks to participate as a party, to become a "suitor," and to ask the court to decide the merits of the dispute, he must not only satisfy the requirements of Rule 24, but must also have Article III standing. The court next holds that the conservation association has alleged concrete, imminent, and redressible injuries-in-fact that are neither conjectural nor hypothetical. The association has submitted affidavits from several of its members stating that they have visited the park in the past, that they plan to do so in the near and identifiable future, and that they will be injured directly if the restrictions on snowmobiling are lifted. Moreover, the snowmobiling restrictions at issue are definite and imminent. The court thus holds that the association has the Article III standing required for intervention. Turning to Rule 24's requirements, the court holds that the association has an interest in preventing unrestricted snowmobiling and in vindicating a conservationist vision for the park. Further, the association's interests might suffer if the government were to lose this case, or to settle it against the association's interests. The court holds that the association's conservation interests are concerns that the government, as parens patriae, is charged with protecting, and that the presumption of adequate representation of the association's interests therefore applies. The association, however, has rebutted the parens partriae, presumtion. Its concern about the government's enthusiasm for defending the snowmobiling restrictions are grounded in the well-documented history of this case. The association sued the government in an earlier case concerning snowmobiling in the park precisely because it thought the government was not adequately representing the association's interests. Moreover, the government has waived and failed to enforce regulations against snowmobile use in the park, and has breached its obligation to make a wilderness recommendation within four years of the park's establishment. The court thus holds that the district court should have allowed the association to intervene as of right.

[The district court summary judgment is published at 26 ELR 20915.]

Counsel for Appellees
Corey J. Ayling
McGrann, Shea, Franzen, Carnival, Straughn & Lamb
2200 La Salle Plaza
800 La Salle Ave., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 338-2525

Counsel for Appellants
Richard A. Duncan
Faegre & Benson
2200 Norwest Ctr.
90 S. 7th St., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 336-3000