Intervention in Class Action Rests in the Sound Discretion of the Trial Court and Lower Court did not Abuse that Discretion in Denying Leave to Intervene to Object to Class Action Settlement Illinois Court Holds
After more than 20 class action and individual lawsuits were filed against Ingersoll-Rand and Kryptonite based on the ease with which the Kryptonite U-Lock bicycle locks could be picked, defendants reached a settlement with plaintiffs in two of the nationwide class action lawsuits. Rosen v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ill.App. March 30, 2007) [Slip Opn., at 1-3]. The class action settlement allowed purchasers of the U-Lock to exchange it for a more secure lock, or alternatively to receive vouchers redeemable for other Kryptonite products. Id., at 3. The proposed settlement addressed other terms as well, such as redress of class members whose bicycles were stolen because the U-Lock was picked, id. The trial court preliminarily approved the class action settlement, and held that it had jurisdiction over all class members residing in the United States and Canada, id. Certain named plaintiffs in other class action lawsuits objected to the proposed settlement on the ground that it did not adequately protect their interests and sought leave to intervene in the Illinois class action, id., at 4-5. The trial court denied intervention and approved the settlement, id., at 5-6. The appellate court affirmed.
With respect to the intervention motion, the appellate court held that, even though “courts should be indulgent [in class action cases] where objections concern notice of settlement,” Rosen, at 10, appellant had not satisfied the statutory test for intervention in a class action. In Illinois, a person seeking to intervene in a class action “may do so with leave of court and such leave shall be liberally granted except when the court finds that such intervention will disrupt the conduct of the action or otherwise prejudice the rights of the parties or the class.” Id. (citing Ill. Code Civ. Proc., §2-804(a)). The motion is left to the “sound judicial discretion” of the court and “will not be reversed absent an abuse of that discretion.” Id., at 11 (citation omitted). Appellant admitted that he was not entitled to intervene as of right, id., and the court held that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in denying permissive leave to amend, id., at 11-12.
NOTE: As a preliminary matter, the appellate court held that proposed intervenors had standing to appeal – or as the appellate court considered the issue, that appellants “should be considered a ‘party’ for the purposes of appealing the approval of the settlement.” Rosen, at 8-9