United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DAVID LITTLEFIELD, MICHELLE LITTLEFIELD, TRACY ACORD, DEBORAH CANARY, FRANCIS CANARY, JR., VERONICA Y, PATRICIA COLBERT, VIVIAN COURCY, WILL COURCY, DONNA DEFARIA, ANTONIO DEFARIA, KIM DORSEY, KELLY DORSEY, FRANCIS LAGACE, JILL LAGACE, DAVID LEWRY, KATHLEEN LEWRY, MICHELE LEWRY, RICHARD LEWRY, ROBERT LINCOLN, CHRISTINA McMAHON, CAROL MURPHY, DOROTHY PEIRCE, DAVID PURDY, and LOUISE SILVIA, Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; SALLY JEWELL, in her official capacity; BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS; LAWRENCE ROBERTS, in his official capacity, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendants.
WILLIAM G. YOUNG DISTRICT JUDGE
action concerns the taking of certain land into trust by the
United States Department of the Interior (the
“Department”) for the benefit of the Mashpee
Wampanoag Indian Tribe (the “Mashpees”) pursuant
to the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. § 479. On
July 28, 2016, the Court ruled that the government's
acquisition of the land at issue was improper, at least on
the ground proffered by the Secretary of the Department in
his Record of Decision and by the government in its briefing
of this issue. Mem. and Order, ECF No. 87. In conjunction
with its memorandum and order, the Court entered a
declaratory judgment for the Plaintiffs on the first cause of
action in their complaint. Judgment, ECF No. 88. The case was
then administratively closed.
August 15, 2016, the Mashpees filed a motion to intervene as
a Defendant in this action for the purpose of “1)
participat[ing] in any motion practice remaining in the
District Court; and 2) appeal[ing] the Court's July 28,
2016 Memorandum and Order[.]” The Mashpee Wampanoag
Indian Tribe's Mot. Intervene, ECF No. 89; Mem. Law Supp.
Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe's Mot. Intervene
(“Mashpees' Mem.”), ECF No. 90. The
Plaintiffs oppose this motion. Pls.' Opp'n Mashpee
Wampanoag Indian Tribe's Mot. Intervene (“Pls.'
Opp'n”), ECF No. 101.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), the Court must grant a
timely motion to intervene, as matter of right, where the
intervenor “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.” Factors relevant to this determination
(1) the length of time the applicants knew, or reasonably
should have known, of their interest before they petitioned
to intervene; (2) the prejudice to existing parties due to
applicants' failure to petition for intervention
promptly; (3) the prejudice that applicants would suffer if
they were not allowed to intervene; and (4) any unusual
circumstances militating either for or against intervention.
Fiandaca v. Cunningham, 827 F.2d 825, 834 (1st Cir.
1987) (internal citations omitted).
Plaintiffs are correct that the Mashpees knew of their
interest in this lawsuit well before they moved to intervene.
See Pls.' Opp'n 6; Mashpees' Mem. 18
(effectively acknowledging that they “could have but
did not bring [the motion to intervene] sooner”).
Ultimately, however, the balance of prejudices here favors
the Mashpees. The prejudice to the Plaintiffs should the
Mashpees be permitted to intervene is not especially
concerning. On the other hand, given the Mashpees'
undeniable and compelling interest in the outcome of this
litigation, their risk of prejudice is substantial. Moreover,
to the extent the Plaintiffs argue that timing of the
Mashpees' motion reflects some sort of ploy designed to
impede the Plaintiffs' recovery, see Pl.'s
Opp'n 1, 6, the Court rejects the notion that the
Mashpees' decision not to waive their sovereign immunity
earlier in this lawsuit necessarily disqualifies them from
the Court GRANTS the Mashpees' motion to intervene as a
Defendant, ECF No. 89, with the proviso that their role shall
be limited to participating in any challenges to the judgment
as to the Plaintiffs' first cause of action and appealing
 The parties had earlier stipulated
that all other counts included in the Plaintiffs'
complaint be administratively closed pending the resolution
of the first count. Elec. Clerk's Notes, ECF No.
 The Court is not convinced by the
Plaintiffs' argument that they would be meaningfully
prejudiced by the so-called “pil[ing] on” of an
additional Defendant, Pls.' Opp'n 3, and
“re-plow[ing]” previously litigated issues,
id. at 7. See Dimond v.
District of Columbia, 792 F.2d 179, 193 (D.C. Cir.
1986) (concluding that existing parties were not prejudiced
where intervenor sought “to intervene only to
participate at the appellate stage and in any further trial
proceedings”). Indeed, there is no concern here that
allowing the Mashpees' motion would, for example, delay
trial. See Caterino v. Barry, 922
F.2d 37, 43 (1st Cir. 1990) (affirming district court's
conclusion that existing parties would be prejudiced by
allowing motion to intervene where intervention would delay
trial). Nor would it disturb thoughtfully negotiated and
relied upon settlement terms. See Banco Popular de Puerto
Rico v. Greenblatt, 964 F.2d 1227,
1232 (1st Cir. 1992) (finding post-judgment intervention
prejudicial to existing parties where the judgment was a
carefully negotiated settlement).
 In other words, the Mashpees'
inclusion as a Defendant does not entitle them to reopen
those counts that were administratively closed pursuant to
the existing parties' stipulation, see ...