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Parkwest Development, LLC v. Ellahi

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 1, 2018

PARKWEST DEVELOPMENT, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, Plaintiff,
v.
SHIEKH ELLAHI, individually, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO INTERVENE (DOC. 12)

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Parkwest Development, LLC (“Parkwest”) filed this action against Shiekh Ellahi to recover for breach of a lease. Non-party Sheikh Shoes, LLC, filed a motion to intervene, contending that Ellahi assigned the lease to it and that it has a damages claim against Parkwest. Having reviewed the parties' submissions, the court finds that the disposition of this matter would not be aided by oral argument. For the reasons explained below, Shiekh Shoes' motion is granted.[1]

         BACKGROUND FACTS

         Parkwest and Ellahi entered into a commercial lease on July 1, 2012, for property in Detroit, Michigan. Parkwest alleges that Ellahi “deserted” the leased property in May 2016 and has failed to pay past due rent as well as rent accruing until the end of the lease term in 2022. Parkwest filed its initial complaint against Ellahi on February 1, 2018, and an amended complaint on March 13, 2018. In the amended complaint, Parkwest asserts claims for breach of lease, promissory estoppel, and account stated. Parkwest seeks $348, 300 in damages.

         In his answer to the complaint, Ellahi contends that he is not liable under the lease because he assigned the lease to Shiekh Shoes on January 1, 2014. See Pl.'s Ex. 4 (Assignment and Assumption Agreement). Shiekh Shoes operated a retail shoe business at the leased property from January 2014 until May 2016. According to Shiekh Shoes, the store was damaged in January 2016 when individuals attempting to access a neighboring store broke in and destroyed a wall. Shiekh Shoes contends that Parkwest is in breach of the lease because it refused to repair or pay for the damage. Shiekh Shoes asserts that, as a result of Parkwest's breach, it was unable to operate its business and has suffered damages.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Shiekh Shoes seeks to intervene as of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), which provides:

On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who:
***
(2) 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 that interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) (emphasis added).

         To intervene as a matter of right, proposed intervenors must establish the following elements: “(1) that the motion to intervene was timely; (2) that they have a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case; (3) that their ability to protect that interest may be impaired in the absence of intervention; and (4) that the parties already before the court may not adequately represent their interest.” Grutter v. Bollinger, 188 F.3d 394, 397-98 (6th Cir. 1999).

         The parties do not dispute that Shiekh Shoes' motion to intervene is timely; the motion was filed May 1, 2018, within a relatively short time after Ellahi filed his answer on March 27, 2018, and the parties submitted their Rule 26(f) discovery plan on April 24, 2018. Under the circumstances, the court agrees that the motion is timely.

         The main point of contention is whether Shiekh Shoes has a “substantial legal interest” in this case. Although “there is no clear definition of what constitutes a litigable ‘interest' for purposes of intervention, ” Purnell v. City of Akron, 925 F.2d 941, 947 (1991), the Sixth Circuit “has opted for a rather expansive notion of the interest sufficient to invoke intervention as of right.” Michigan State AFL-CIO v. Miller, 103 F.3d 1240, 1245 (6th Cir. 1997). For example, “an intervenor need not have the same standing necessary to initiate a lawsuit.” Id. (citation omitted). The “interest” test “is primarily a practical guide to disposing of lawsuits by involving as many apparently concerned persons as ...


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