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Ruben Conitzer,Ruben Conitzer P.A. in Miami.Ruben Conitzer,Ruben Conitzer P.A. in Miami. (Courtesy photos)

On June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Town of Chester v. Laroe Estates. Acknowledging a split in the Federal Courts of Appeals, the court addressed whether an intervening litigant needs to establish separate standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. The case involved a developer who brought takings claims against the municipality in which the proposed development was located. The developer claimed the municipality’s red tape and bureaucracy illegally obstructed and ruined his development plans. The developer had entered into pre-sale and other agreements with a third party. Because of these agreements, the third party also had a significant economic stake in the development and the outcome of the litigation. When the third party sought to intervene in the litigation, the court had to decide whether the third-party needed to establish separate Article III.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that a litigant seeking to intervene under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure needs to meet the requirements of Article III standing—but needs to do so only if the intervenor is pursuing relief not requested by a plaintiff. Citing its recent decision in Spokeo v. Robbins, the court went through the requirements needed to establish Article III standing. Namely, the party seeking 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. Even though the context may be different, the court concluded that the same principles of standing apply to intervenors of right. Thus, any time an intervenor of right seeks additional relief beyond what the plaintiff has requested, the intervenor must demonstrate separate Article III standing. Because the record concerning whether the relief sought by the third-party intervenor was different from that sought by the initial plaintiff, the Supreme Court left that issue to be addressed on remand.

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