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Al-Menhali v. Marriott International, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

September 4, 2019

AHMED AL-MENHALI, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al., Defendants

          ORDER

          SOLOMON OLIVER, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Currently pending before the court is Westfield Insurance Company's (“Westfield”) Motion for Leave to Intervene as a New Party Defendant (“Motion”) pursuant to Rule 24(a), or alternatively Rule 24(b), of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 72.) Plaintiffs, Ahmed Al-Menhali (“Al-Menhali”) and Taghrid Milki (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), oppose Westfield's Motion. (ECF No. 76.) Although Defendants Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”); Inn on the River's Edge, L.P. (“River's Edge”); and Fairfield Inn & Suites Avon (“Fairfield Inn”) (collectively, “Hotel Defendants”) requested, and received, an extension of time to respond to Westfield's Motion, (ECF No. 74), Hotel Defendants did not file a response. Likewise, Defendants Alexis Silva (“Silva”) and Laura Acton-Bell (“Acton-Bell”) (collectively, “Employee Defendants”) did not respond to Westfield's Motion. For the following reasons, the court denies Westfield's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 24, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this civil action against the Employee and Hotel Defendants, [1] alleging state law claims related to an incident which occurred at Fairfield Inn in Avon, Ohio, on June 29, 2016, resulting in Al-Menhali's seizure by police officers of the City of Avon.[2]Following a case management conference on August 16, 2017, the parties began discovery, which continued throughout late 2017 and early 2018.

         Employee Defendants and Hotel Defendants filed separate motions for summary judgment on June 15, 2018, (ECF Nos. 41, 42, 43), which the court denied in part and granted in part on March 29, 2019. (See Order, ECF No. 67.) Following the court's summary judgment order, several of Plaintiffs' alleged claims against Employee Defendants remained for trial: unlawful discrimination in violation of Ohio Rev. Code § 4412 (Count 6); negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count 9); negligence and/or gross negligence (Count 12); and loss of consortium (Count 16). (Id.) Several claims also remained against Hotel Defendants: negligence and/or gross negligence (Count 12); negligent training/supervision (Count 14); respondeat superior (Count 15); and loss of consortium (Count 16). (Id.).

         The court held a final pretrial conference on May 23, 2019, and set an initial trial date for June 24, 2019. (Order, ECF Nos. 68, 73.) On May 20, 2019, just days before the conference and about one month before trial was set to begin, Westfield filed its Motion for Leave to Intervene as a New Party Defendant pursuant to Rule 24(a), or alternatively Rule 24(b), of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 72.) In its Motion, Westfield acknowledges that it “is providing Defendants with a defense in this lawsuit, pursuant to a reservation of rights, through a commercial insurance policy issued to Inn on the River's Edge bearing Policy No. CMM 7350470, which was in effect from January 1, 2016 through January 1, 2017, ” but Westfield asserts that it “may have no duty to indemnify defendants with regard to the claims asserted by Plaintiffs in the within action” depending on the outcome at trial. (Id. at 2.) Westfield argues that it must be allowed to intervene “to protect its [insurance] coverage defense.” (Id.) But Westfield does not seek substantial involvement in the trial; it seeks only to submit interrogatories to the jury. (Id.)

         Defendants sought a one-week extension of time to respond to Westfield's Motion, noting that Defendants' counsel “cannot respond to the Motion to Intervene as he is retained liability counsel, not coverage counsel. Marriott is retaining separate coverage counsel.” (Def. Mot. at 1, ECF No. 74.) Although the court granted the extension, Defendants never filed a response to Westfield's Motion. However, Plaintiffs did file a response opposing Westfield's Motion and urging several grounds for denial, including that the scope of Westfield's policy coverage is clear, the question of coverage is unrelated to the issues at stake in this case, and Westfield's Motion was untimely and prejudicial. (Pl's Opp'n, ECF No. 76.)

         Just before trial was scheduled to begin, and before the court ruled on Westfield's Motion, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Continue the Trial Date due to Al-Menhali's poor health. (ECF No. 82.) Al-Menhali's treating physician ordered Al-Menhali, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, not to travel “until his condition improves, ” and recommended at least one month of rest and monitoring before allowing Al-Menhali to travel internationally. (Id. at 1.) The court granted Plaintiffs' Motion without objection and set a new trial date for September 10, 2019.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Intervention as of Right Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)

         Rule 24(a) entitles certain applicants to intervene in a lawsuit as of right. The Rule requires courts to allow a party to intervene if the party makes a timely motion and (1) a federal statute gives the party an unconditional right to intervene, or (2) the moving party “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 the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a). There is no federal statute authorizing Westfield to intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(1). Accordingly, Westfield's asserted right must arise, if at all, under Rule 24(a)(2).

         The Sixth Circuit requires a movant to satisfy four elements to establish a right to intervene under Rule 24(a): (1) the motion to intervene was timely; (2) the movant has a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case; (3) the movant's ability to protect that interest may be impaired in the absence of intervention; and (4) the parties already before the court may not adequately represent the movant's interest. Coal. to Defend Affirmative Action v. Granholm, 501 F.3d 775, 779 (6th Cir. 2007). A failure to meet any one of the four factors “will require that the motion be denied.” Id. at 780 (quoting Grubbs v. Norris, 870 F.2d 343, 345 (6th Cir. 1989)).

         As discussed below, the court finds that Westfield fails to meet its burden to establish any of the first three factors. Consequently, Westfield does not have a right to intervene under Rule 24(a).

         1. ...


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