Odle v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 16-10347 (5th Cir. 2018)

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Justia Opinion Summary

Would-be plaintiff–intervenors filed a motion to intervene after the district court had already entered a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1) stipulated dismissal of plaintiffs' claims. When the district court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion, it did not have the benefit of Sommers v. Bank of American, N.A., which rejected the suggestion that intervention was always improper after a case has been dismissed.

The Fifth Circuit held that, because Sommers was controlling in this case, the district court has jurisdiction to consider the would-be intervenors' motion. The court agreed with Wal-Mart that, if jurisdiction was found to exist, the court should remand for consideration of Rule 24's basic requirements. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's order denying intervention on jurisdictional grounds and remanded for further proceedings.

This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on March 27, 2017.

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IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED March 27, 2017 No. 16-10347 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk STEPHANIE ODLE, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, et al; Plaintiffs WAL-MART STORES, INCORPORATED, Defendant - Appellee v. ORALIA FLORES; ROSIE LUJAN; ALICE BISCARDI; DEBBIE HAYWORTH; BRENDA HENDERSON; LINDA MCFADDEN; MARGARITA MURILLO; SANDRA PHELAN, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Movants - Appellants Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Before REAVLEY, ELROD, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: This is a case involving would-be plaintiff–intervenors who filed their motion to intervene after the district court had already entered a Rule 41(a)(1) stipulated dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims. The district court believed it lacked jurisdiction to consider the motion. It did not have the benefit of Sommers v. Bank of American, N.A., decided a few months later, which rejected No. 16-10347 the “suggest[ion] that intervention is always improper after a case has been dismissed.” 835 F.3d 509, 513 (5th Cir. 2016). Sommers controls. The district court has jurisdiction to consider the would-be intervenors’ motion. See id. at 513 & n.5; see also Ford v. City of Huntsville, 242 F.3d 235, 238–40 (5th Cir. 2001). In a Rule 28(j) letter, appellee Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”) asserts that Sommers is contrary to prior opinions of this Court and must be disregarded under the rule of orderliness. See Arnold v. U.S. Dep’t of Interior, 213 F.3d 193, 196 n.4 (5th Cir. 2000) (“[U]nder the rule of orderliness, to the extent that a more recent case contradicts an older case, the newer language has no effect.”). But Sommers reconciled those supposedly problematic cases, see 835 F.3d at 513 n.5, and Wal-Mart’s arguments amount to a request that we second-guess Sommers. That the rule of orderliness prohibits. Other cases cited by Wal-Mart but not mentioned by Sommers do not alter our conclusion. Wal-Mart cites Gaines v. Dixie Carriers, Inc., for the proposition that “when a case is dismissed by joint consent the intervention falls with it.” There, we noted that “Appellee’s brief suggests that the case having been dismissed by joint consent the intervention falls with it,” but we rejected the contention. Gaines, 434 F.2d 52, 54 (5th Cir. 1970). Meinecke v. H & R Block of Houston, 66 F.3d 77 (5th Cir. 1995) (per curiam), United States v. Kellogg (In re West Texas Marketing Corp.), 12 F.3d 497, 501 (5th Cir.1994), and Williams v. Ezell, 531 F.2d 1261 (5th Cir. 1976), have nothing to do with intervention or the particular jurisdictional question here presented and are not inconsistent with Sommers. According to Wal-Mart, Sommers also indicates that the would-be intervenors’ motion is untimely. This is consistent with its merits brief, which flagged but reserved arguments that the would-be intervenors have simply failed to comply with Rule 24 and, specifically, “cannot satisfy” its “timeliness 2 No. 16-10347 requirement.” According to Wal-Mart, if jurisdiction is found to exist, we should remand for consideration of Rule 24’s basic requirements. We agree. On appeal, the would-be intervenors have argued that the district court previously erred by dismissing the original plaintiffs’ class claims as untimely based on its determination that equitable tolling of the statute of limitations under American Pipe and Construction Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538 (1974), is improper in a subsequent class action. But making this argument is the would-be intervenors’ very object, their self-declared “purpose” of intervening. We will not skip ahead to answer the merits question while the would-be intervenors’ status is in doubt. Nor do we express any opinion on whether intervention is warranted. We VACATE the district court’s order denying intervention on jurisdictional grounds and REMAND for further proceedings. The motion for leave to intervene should be considered under Rule 24. 3