Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates, Inc. ,
581 U.S. ___ (2017)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Sherman paid $2.7 million for land in Chester, New York, then sought approval of his development plan. Years later, he filed a regulatory takings suit. Laroe moved to intervene under FRCP 24(a)(2), which requires a court to permit intervention by a litigant that “claims an interest related 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.” Laroe alleged that it had paid Sherman $2.5 million in relation to the project, that its resulting equitable interest would be impaired if it could not intervene, and that Sherman would not adequately represent its interest. A unanimous Supreme Court held that a litigant seeking to intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2) must meet Article III standing requirements if the intervenor seeks relief not requested by a plaintiff. To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff seeking compensatory relief must have suffered an injury-in-fact, that is fairly traceable to the defendant's challenged conduct, and that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision. An intervenor-of-right must demonstrate Article III standing when it seeks relief beyond that requested by the plaintiff. The Second Circuit must address, on remand, whether Laroe seeks different relief than Sherman. If Laroe wants only a money judgment of its own running directly against the town, then it seeks damages different from those sought by Sherman and must establish its own standing to intervene.

Prior History
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Opinion (Samuel A. Alito, Jr.)

NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321 .

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

TOWN OF CHESTER, NEW YORK v. LAROE ESTATES, INC.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the second circuit

No. 16–605. Argued April 17, 2017—Decided June 5, 2017

Land developer Steven Sherman paid $2.7 million to purchase land in the town of Chester (Town) for a housing subdivision. He also sought the Town’s approval of his development plan. About a decade later, he filed this suit in New York state court, claiming that the Town had obstructed his plans for the subdivision, forcing him to spend around $5.5 million to comply with its demands and driving him to the brink of personal bankruptcy. Sherman asserted, among other claims, a regulatory takings claim under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Town removed the case to a Federal District Court, which dismissed the takings claim as unripe. The Second Circuit reversed that determination and remanded for the case to go forward. On remand, real estate development company Laroe Estates, Inc. (respondent here), filed a motion to intervene of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2), which requires a court to permit intervention by a litigant that “claims an interest related 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.” Laroe alleged that it had paid Sherman more than $2.5 million in relation to the development project and the subject property, that its resulting equitable interest in the property would be impaired if it could not intervene, and that Sherman would not adequately represent its interest. Laroe filed, inter alia, an intervenor’s complaint asserting a regulatory takings claim that was substantively identical to Sherman’s and seeking a judgment awarding Laroe compensation for the taking of Laroe’s interest in the property at issue. The District Court denied Laroe’s motion to intervene, concluding that its equitable interest did not confer standing. The Second Circuit reversed, holding that an intervenor of right is not required to meet Article III’s standing requirements.

Held:

1. A litigant seeking to intervene as of right under Rule 24(a)(2) must meet the requirements of Article III standing if the intervenor wishes to pursue relief not requested by a plaintiff. To establish Article III standing, a plaintiff seeking compensatory relief must have “(1) suffered an injury in fact, (2) that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of the defendant, and (3) that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.” Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, 578 U. S. ___, ___. The “ plaintiff must demonstrate standing for each claim he seeks to press and for each form of relief that is sought.” Davis v. Federal Election Comm’n, 554 U. S. 724 (internal quotation marks omitted). The same principle applies when there are multiple plaintiffs: At least one plaintiff must have standing to seek each form of relief requested in the complaint. That principle also applies to intervenors of right: For all relief sought, there must be a litigant with standing, whether that litigant joins the lawsuit as a plaintiff, a coplaintiff, or an intervenor of right. Thus, at the least, an intervenor of right must demonstrate Article III standing when it seeks additional relief beyond that requested by the plaintiff. That includes cases in which both the plaintiff and the intervenor seek separate money judgments in their own names. Pp. 4–6.

2. The Court of Appeals is to address on remand the question whether Laroe seeks different relief than Sherman. If Laroe wants only a money judgment of its own running directly against the Town, then it seeks damages different from those sought by Sherman and must establish its own Article III standing in order to intervene. The record is unclear on that point, and the Court of Appeals did not resolve that ambiguity. Pp. 6–8.

828 F. 3d 60, vacated and remanded.

Alito, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Primary Holding

If a party is trying to intervene in litigation as of right under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2), they must meet the Article III standing requirement if they are seeking a remedy that is not sought by a plaintiff in the litigation.

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