Civil Procedure II, Pages 813–815

Temple v. Synthes Corp.

Supreme Court of the United States, 1990


Plaintiff underwent surgery and had a plate manufactured by defendant screwed into his spine. Afterwards, the screws broke off inside of his back. Plaintiff sued defendant in federal court and also filed a state administrative proceeding against the doctor and hospital for malpractice, after which he sued them in state court.

Defendant did not try to join the doctor and hospital but sought the dismissal of plaintiff's federal suit for failing to join them according to FRCP 19.

Procedural History:

  • District court ordered plaintiff to join the doctor and hospital or face dismissal, based on the interest of judicial economy. Plaintiff failed to do so and the court dismissed the suit with prejudice.

  • The court of appeals affirmed, deeming plaintiff's practice "obviously prejudicial," as the defendants might have blamed each other.


Was plaintiff required to join all potential joint tortfeasors?


LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 814, Paragraph 3

[I]t is not necessary for all joint tortfeasors to be named as defendants in a single lawsuit. . . . "a tortfeasor with the usual 'joint-and-several' liability is merely a permissive party to an action against another with like liability."


Defendant admits that it is a joint tortfeasor with the doctor and hospital.


Plaintiff did not have to join all potential joint tortfeasors. Reversed and remanded.