Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 7, 2020

First Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Denial of Leave to Intervene in TCA Matter

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Plaintiff-appellee T-Mobile Northeast LLC sought to operate a wireless telecommunications facility in an existing church steeple in Cape Cod. To that end, it sought the required municipal permissions and, when it was unsuccessful in obtaining them, sued the Town of Barnstable, two of its agencies, and a number of municipal officials in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (“TCA”). Two local residents sought leave to intervene. T-Mobile opposed their motions, and the district court denied them. This appeal followed that denial.

 At the outset, the court noted that to prevail on a motion for intervention as of right, a putative intervenor must demonstrate: “(1) the timeliness of her motion; (2) a concrete interest in the pending action; (3) “a realistic threat” that resolution of the pending action will hinder her ability to effectuate that interest; and (4) the absence of adequate representation by any existing party.” Here, the appellants failed to show that the Town did not adequately represent their interests – relying only on conclusory arguments and speculation. Additionally, the appellants’ did not identify any arguments that the Town was unlikely to advance, or articulate any convincing reason that might have led the district court to believe that they would add to the Town’s defense.

As a final matter, the court found that a district court’s discretion to grant or deny motions for permissive intervention is very broad. As there was no evidence indicating that the district court abused its discretion in denying the appellants’ motions for permissive intervention, its holding was affirmed.

T-Mobile Northeast,LLC v Town of Barnstable, 2020 WL 4558644 (1st Cir CA 8/7/2020)


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