Important To Intervene Early In Discrimination Cases

Written on 11/05/2022
Will Aitchison

In 2015, several black firefighters sued the City of St. Louis, alleging that the City structured its 2013 promo­tional tests for the ranks of captain and battalion chief in a way that adversely and disproportionately affected black candidates. The case was settled in 2017, with the settlement changing some aspects of the City’s promotional system. The settlement did not give the federal court hearing the case ongoing responsibility for the case, and so the case was dismissed.

On August 3, 2022, another group of firefighters sought to intervene in the case, seeking to enforce the settlement agreement entered into between the City and the first group of firefighters. The Court rejected the request to intervene.

The problem, the Court found, was that the request for intervention came almost five years after the case was dis­missed with prejudice and closed. The Court noted that the intervenors (Mo­vants) were “likely aware of the litigation in this case long before they sought to intervene. Indeed, as firefighters for the City, Movants have likely been aware of this case since near its inception.

“Movants have not provided any explanation of why they chose not to intervene in this case while it was pend­ing. In the absence of some persuasive justification for Movants’ lengthy delay in seeking to intervene, this factor also weighs against intervention.

“The final factor – whether the delay in seeking intervention may prejudice the existing parties – is either neutral or weighs against intervention because Mo­vants will not be significantly prejudiced by the denial of their motion. Movants will not be significantly prejudiced by the denial of their motion because, to the extent they have claims for violations of their rights under the settlement agree­ment, they may pursue those claims in a separate action.

“In sum, the relevant factors weigh against permitting Movants to intervene in this case because the litigation had been concluded for almost five years at the time of Movants’ motion, Movants were likely aware of the case since near its inception, Movants have not provided a persuasive justification for their delay in seeking to intervene, and Movants will not be significantly prejudiced by the denial of their motion. Because the relevant factors weigh against permitting Movants to intervene in this case, their motion will be denied as untimely.”

Green v. City of St. Louis, 2022 WL 4119853 (E.D. Mo. 2022).

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