United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DARNELL E. WILLIAMS and YESSENIA M. TAVERAS, Plaintiffs,
ELISABETH DEVOS,  in her official capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Defendant.
ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL COMPLIANCE WITH THE
COURT'S ORDER OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, TO INTERVENE (DOC.
Sorokin, United States District Judge.
October 24, 2018, the Court entered judgment in this matter
in favor of plaintiffs Darnell E. Williams and Yessenia M.
Taveras. Doc. No. 99 at 29-30. On February 6, 2019, because
the parties initially disputed defendant Secretary of
Education Elisabeth Devos's compliance with the judgment,
see Doc. Nos. 101, 102, the Court ordered the
Secretary to take certain steps pursuant to the Court's
judgment, Doc. No. 108.
on February 26, 2019, during the parties' dispute, the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts (“the
Commonwealth”) moved to compel the Secretary's
compliance with the Court's Order, Doc. No. 99, pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 71, or, in the alternative, to intervene
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24. Doc. No. 115. The Secretary
opposed. Doc. No. 122. The plaintiffs filed a memorandum in
support of the Commonwealth's motion. Doc. No. 123. The
Commonwealth filed a reply, Doc. No. 127, and the Secretary
filed a surreply, Doc. No. 130.
7, 2019, the parties informed the Court that they had
resolved their dispute about the Secretary's compliance
with the judgment, Doc. No. 131, and the Court then vacated
its Order, Doc. No. 134, while keeping the Commonwealth's
motion under advisement. For the reasons stated herein, the
Court now DENIES the Commonwealth's motion in its
Commonwealth's motion arises essentially out of continued
dispute about the Secretary's legal duties in the wake of
the Court's Order, Doc. No. 99, entering judgment in this
matter. The Commonwealth argues that the Court's judgment
in this matter requires the Secretary to treat Attorney
General Maura Healey's November 30, 2015, letter to the
Secretary, which Attorney General Healey calls a
“defense to repayment” application (“the
DTR”),  as having invoked a borrower defense
proceeding as to all of the 7, 200 students listed on its
Exhibit 4. Doc. No. 116 at 1-2; see Doc. No. 47-1 at
The Commonwealth alleges that the Secretary has adopted a
different interpretation of the judgment, which it argues is
incorrect: that the judgment required her to treat the DTR as
having invoked a borrower defense proceeding only as the two
plaintiffs in this action. Doc. No. 116 at 2. For that
reason, the Commonwealth seeks either to enforce the judgment
as a nonparty or to intervene. Id. at 6.
Civ. P. 71 provides that “[w]hen an order grants relief
for a nonparty . . . the procedure for enforcing the order is
the same as for a party.” The rule is “intended
to assure that process be made available to enforce court
orders in favor of and against persons who are properly
affected by them, even if they are not parties to the
action.” Lasky v. Quinlan, 558 F.2d 1133, 1137
(2d Cir. 1977).
plaintiffs commenced this litigation on September 28, 2016,
nearly three years ago. Doc. No. 1. On October 24, 2018,
after more than two years of motion practice, the Court
entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. Doc. No. 99. The
express terms of the judgment did not grant express relief to
anyone other than the named plaintiffs, and the Court had
previously dismissed the plaintiffs' claim for non-class
declaratory relief benefiting a larger group of persons. Doc.
No. 35. On May 7, 2019, after an initial dispute about the
Secretary's compliance with the Court's judgment, the
parties reached a mutually satisfactory agreement.
See Doc. No. 131. Despite this litigation's long
history and the parties' significant progress toward
resolving the underlying matters, the Commonwealth moved to
intervene well over two years after this matter began and
after judgment entered.
as of right is not available given the express terms of the
judgment noted above. Permissive intervention is not
warranted. Defendants did not appeal from the judgment. The
time to do so has now passed. Whatever the significance of
the alleged disregard of the rulings, findings, and legal
principles set forth in the Court's decision resulting in
and constituting the judgment may be, the considerations
factoring into whether to grant permissive intervention
counsel against doing so. See Chase Manhattan Bank (Nat.
Ass'n) v. Corporacion Hotelera De P.R., 516 F.2d
1047, 1050 (1st Cir. 1975); McDonald v. E. J. Lavino
Co., 430 F.2d 1065, 1072 (5th Cir. 1970). This is
particularly true where the Commonwealth may, subject to the
considerations which would in any event govern intervention,
file a new lawsuit. Such a new lawsuit would not unduly tax
judicial resources as compared to intervention. Any such
future matter would likely present many of the “same or
similar claims or defenses” and “involve
substantially the same questions of fact and law” as in
this matter, and thus a prospective plaintiff could
“notify the clerk by notation on the local civil
category sheet” that the new pleading is related to
this case. See L.R. 40.1(g). The Court would expect
that any such lawsuit would then proceed expeditiously.
reasons described herein, the Commonwealth's motion to
compel compliance with the Court's Order or, in the
alternative, to intervene, Doc. No. 115, is DENIED in its
entirety. The Court takes no action on the only other pending
motion, plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees, as the
parties report that it is settled in principle.
 See Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d)
(providing for automatic substitution of successor to public
 The Court refers to Attorney General
Healey's writing using the name she gave the document in
her amicus brief before the ...