United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Michael J. Reagan Chief Judge.
suit concerns a commercial truck accident that occurred on
April 10, 2013. On that day, Britton Roberts was parked in a
state-operated truck in the southbound lane of Interstate 57
in Union County, Illinois, assisting in road maintenance on a
stretch of the highway. A few minutes before 1:00 PM, a
semi-truck operated by Edward Lee Burdick and owned by GDL
Transport, LLC, struck Roberts' parked vehicle, causing
him significant injuries. In January 2015, Roberts sued
Burdick and GDL Transport in Illinois' First Judicial
Circuit, claiming that Burdick was negligent and that GDL
Transport was culpable for his negligence. Burdick and GDL
Transport then removed the case to this Court on diversity
grounds, and the case proceeded through discovery and was on
track for an April 2016 trial. A few weeks before the trial
date, the Court was advised that the case had settled but
that the parties needed additional time to finalize the
settlement documents. The Court entered an order confirming
the parties' settlement and indicated to the parties that
the Court would enter automatic judgment consistent with
their settlement and close the case in mid-June 2016.
subject to these types of “60-day orders” usually
end uneventfully, but this case is an exception to that
pattern. One month after the Court issued the settlement
order, Roberts filed what he dubbed a “motion for
declaritory [sic] judgment/petition to adjudicate
liens, ” seeking to rope the State of Illinois into the
case. Roberts collected state pension and worker's
compensation benefits after the accident, so the Illinois
agencies administering those benefits had a lien on
Roberts' recovery from Burdick and GDL Transport.
Roberts' petition sought to have the Court square away
how much Roberts owed to the state agencies. The rub was that
Roberts' petition to adjudicate the liens was
undeveloped: he didn't identify the Illinois agencies he
sought to add, he didn't state which procedural mechanism
in the federal rules he wished to use to add them, he
didn't say anything about how those parties were aligned,
and he offered nothing about the impact of adding parties on
the Court's jurisdiction. Roberts is an Illinois citizen
and the case was removable only because the defendants were
Indiana citizens. The Illinois agencies likely qualify as
Illinois citizens, so Roberts' efforts to add them could
impact jurisdiction depending on how they are aligned.
Because the motion was undeveloped, the Court denied it
without prejudice, instructing Roberts that he was free to
file again but if he did he needed to lay out a procedural
mechanism for adding the Illinois agencies and a developed
basis for this Court's jurisdiction.
has since filed another “motion for declaratory
judgment/petition to adjudicate statutory liens.” For
their parts, Roberts and GDL Transport have moved to dismiss
themselves from the case with prejudice, for they already cut
the settlement check to Burdick, and the state lienholders
also moved to intervene in the case to litigate their liens.
The Court held a teleconference concerning all of the pending
motions on July 29, 2016. At the beginning of the conference,
all involved were advised by the Court that there may be
jurisdictional- and rule-related problems with granting
Burdick's motion to add and the agencies' motions to
intervene. Despite those looming issues, Burdick and GDL
Transport reiterated their desire to be dismissed from the
case and Roberts and the intervenors said they had no
objection to dismissal at that point, so the defendants were
dismissed. Roberts and the intervenors then advised the Court
that a settlement conference before Magistrate Judge
Wilkerson may help to work out their differences, so the
Court again extended the automatic judgment date to October
8, 2016. Judge Wilkerson held a settlement conference on
September 29, 2016, and despite his admirable efforts,
Roberts and the lienholders weren't able to work things
out. No one has moved to extend the pending judgment entry,
and given that Burdick and GDL Transport have been dismissed
from this case, the only impediment to judgment is the state
agencies' pending motions to intervene and Roberts'
pending motion to add. Those are now before the Court for
Court will begin with Roberts' second motion to
adjudicate liens, which is almost as summary as his last.
This motion asks for two types of relief. Roberts first
concedes that there might be a jurisdictional problem with
adding the Illinois agencies into this federal case and,
because of that problem, he moves the Court to declare the
Illinois liens void. As Roberts sees it, if the state
agencies had intervened earlier, the case would have been
remanded back to state court, and he sees the agencies'
failure to insert themselves earlier in this case as a waiver
of their lien rights. The rub is that Roberts offers no rule,
case authority, or developed argument backing up this
premise, and it isn't incumbent on this Court to do his
work for him. E.g., Bank of America, N.A. v.
Veluchamy, 643 F.3d 185, 190 (7th Cir. 2011); White
Eagle Coop. Ass'n v. Conner, 553 F.3d 467, 476 n.6
(7th Cir. 2009). That aspect of Roberts' motion must be
second request for relief suffers from a similar flaw.
Presuming there's no waiver of Illinois' liens, he
again asks the Court to hear the lien action as a part of
this proceeding under the Court's supplemental
jurisdiction. As the party asking the Court to hear a new
declaratory claim related to a new party he has the burden to
show that the Court has jurisdiction. Travelers Property
Casualty v. Good, 689 F.3d 714, 722 (7th Cir. 2012). He
hasn't satisfied that burden. Despite being prompted to
do so in the last order, Roberts still hasn't put forth a
procedural basis for adding the Illinois agencies to the
case, nor has he offered any developed basis for jurisdiction
over them. All he's done is cite an unpublished district
court decision from the Central District of Illinois, which
permitted a claim by a plaintiff against a lienholder who had
already intervened earlier in the case. The case he cited,
Dereak v. Don Mattox Trucking, LLC, No. 06-3123,
2009 WL 1098766, at *2 (C.D. Ill. Apr. 23, 2009), didn't
deal with a plaintiff's effort to bring a lienholder into
a case, it didn't offer any developed analysis of
jurisdiction for plaintiffs who are trying to add
lienholders, and in any event district court rulings are
persuasive and not precedential. United States v.
Articles of Drug Consisting of 203 Paper Bags, 818 F.2d
569, 572 (7th Cir. 1987). The Court is of the view that the
citation to one inapposite district ruling, without more,
doesn't satisfy Roberts' burden to persuade the Court
that it has jurisdiction in this case, especially given that
Roberts was given instructions as to what he needed to do to
flesh out jurisdiction and has conceded that there is likely
a jurisdictional defect with his motion.
Court told Roberts to specify the rule he was using to add
the Illinois agencies and to lay out jurisdiction over them
for a reason. Roberts maintains that the Court can hear the
lien matter under its supplemental jurisdiction, but that
jurisdiction is circumscribed by 28 U.S.C. § 1367(b).
That portion of the federal code says that federal courts
lack supplemental jurisdiction over claims by plaintiffs
against persons made parties under the federal joinder,
impleader, or intervention rules if the overarching case is
premised on diversity and if the plaintiff's claim
against the new party runs afoul of the diversity
requirements. Roberts' petition implies that his lien
claim is directed at the Illinois agencies and that he has a
substantial conflict with those agencies, so § 1367(b)
likely has something to say about his ability to add the
agencies to this case. See, e.g., LM
Ins. Corp. v. Spaulding Enters. Inc., 533 F.3d 542, 555
n.5 (7th Cir. 2008); Stromberg Metal Works, Inc. v. Press
Mechanical, Inc., 77 F.3d 928, 932 (7th Cir. 1996). At
the end of the day, for the Court to ascertain whether it has
the power to hear the lien claim at Roberts' behest, it
needs to know the specific procedural rule employed by
Roberts to add the party, the party's proposed alignment,
and why Roberts thinks the Court has jurisdiction in light of
that alignment and the text of § 1367(b). Roberts
hasn't fleshed out those points, so the Court must deny
Roberts' amended motion resolved, that only leaves the
Illinois agencies' motion to intervene in the case as of
right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2).
The state agencies aren't asserting a right to intervene
under a federal statute, so intervention is only proper when
their ability to protect their interests in this federal case
may be “impair[ed]” or “imped[ed]” by
the disposition of this case without them. Fed. R. Civ. P.
23(a)(2). In the mine run of cases, that kind of impairment
doesn't exist when there is another forum available to
the intervenor to litigate his interest, Southmark Corp.
v. Cagan, 950 F.2d 416, 419 (7th Cir. 1991), and the
Illinois agencies concede that another forum is available to
them here. When they lay out the impairment under Rule 24
that necessitates their intervention into this case, they say
that they need to intervene only because an inability to do
so means they will have to pursue their liens on Roberts'
settlement in a “subsequent” suit, presumably in
state court. A lienholder's ability to pursue his lien on
a plaintiff's recovery in a state forum typically shuts
down any need for the lienholder to intervene in the primary
merits suit. See Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v.
Homa, 17 F. App'x 441, 446 (7th Cir. 2001); see
also Koester v. Amergen Energy Co., No. 06-3124, 2008 WL
879459, at *3 (C.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2008); Ebersohl v.
Bechtel Corp., No. 09-1029, 2010 WL 2266736, at *2 (S.D.
Ill. June 7, 2010); Jones v. Shell Oil Co., No.
3:05-cv-622, 2006 WL 83467, at *2 (S.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2006).
true that the availability of another forum doesn't
preclude intervention in a federal case when matters decided
as a part of the federal case could still prejudice the
intervenor's interest in any subsequent action.
E.g., Commodity Futures Trading Com'n v.
Heritage Capital Advisory Servs., Ltd., 736 F.2d 384,
387 (7th Cir. 1984); Central States, Southeast
and Southwest Areas Health & Welfare Fund v. Old Sec.
Life Ins. Co., 600 F.2d 671, 681 (7th Cir. 1979). But
the agencies don't reference any potential prejudice to
them should the Court deny their motions to intervene beyond
the hassle of filing suit in state court to press their
liens, and the only source the Court can think up for them is
Roberts' recent effort to try to have the liens declared
waived. That request poses no real danger to their interests,
as Roberts' hasn't offered any credible support for
waiver and in any event his motion has been denied. See
Heritage Capital, 736 F.2d at 387. Because the agencies
lone asserted hindrance doesn't impede their interests
under Rule 24(a), the agencies' motions must be denied.
up, Roberts' motion for declaratory judgment (Doc. 55) is
DENIED. The Illinois agencies' motions
to intervene as of right (Docs. 56 & 57) are also
DENIED. Roberts and the agencies will need
to settle their differences in a state court forum. The
settlement-related judgment between the plaintiff and the
defendants remains set for automatic entry by the Clerk of
Court on or around October 8, 2016.