Civil Procedure II

Joinder of Parties

Mandatory Joinder

A defendant can move to dismiss a case under Rule 19 for want of an indispensable party if the plaintiff does not join that party.

Indispensable Party

A party is indispensable if:

  1. complete relief cannot be given to the existing parties in its absence,
  2. its absence would expose an existing party to significant risk of double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations, or
  3. its absence would impair the missing party's ability to adequately protect its interest.

Rule 19(a).

Joint tortfeasors are jointly liable and a plaintiff can choose to sue only one, so absence of another is not indispensable, even in most comparative fault states.

A party can still only be joined if feasible, as personal jurisdiction, venue, and subject matter jurisdiction are still required.

If the plaintiff cannot join an indispensable party, the court must determine whether, in equity and good conscience, the action should proceed among the existing parties or should be dismissed. The factors for the court to consider include:

  1. The extent of prejudice to parties or non-party;
  2. The extent to which the court can lessen the prejudice by:
    1. protective provisions in the judgment;
    2. shaping the relief; or
    3. other measures;
  3. Whether judgment would be adequate without the missing party; and
  4. Whether the plaintiff would have an adequate remedy elsewhere.

Rule 19(b).

In the end, it turns on whether the plaintiff is worse with partial relief than if forced to sue elsewhere.

Permissive Joinder

Plaintiffs may join in one suit and file a complaint together if:

  1. They assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, and
  2. Any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

Rule 20(a)(1).

Similarly, a plaintiff may sue multiple defendants in one action if:

  1. Any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, and
  2. Any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Rule 20(a)(b).

Same Transaction or Occurrence

There are two tests for whether two claims arise out of the same transaction or occurrence—the logical relationship test and the same evidence test. Plant v. Blazer Financial Services.

Logical Relationship

The majority uses the logical relationship test, which states that a claim and counterclaim arise from the same transaction when there is a logical relationship between them.

A "logical relationship" exists when the counterclaim arises from the same "aggregate of operative facts" in that the same operative facts serve as the basis of both claims or the aggregate core of facts upon which the claim rests activates additional legal rights, otherwise dormant, in the defendant. Plant v. Blazer Financial Services.

Same Evidence

The minority uses the same evidence test, which states that a claim and counterclaim arise from the same transaction or occurrence when substantially the same evidence will support or refute plaintiff's claim as well as defendant's counterclaim. Plant v. Blazer Financial Services.

This is a narrower test than the logical relationship test.

Third-Party Practice

Third-party practice, formerly known as impleading, is when a defending party, as a third-party plaintiff, serves a summons and complaint on a nonparty who is or may be liable to it for all or part of the claim against it.

The third-party plaintiff must, by motion, obtain the court's leave if it files the third-party complaint more than 14 days after serving its original answer.

Rule 14(a).

The third-party defendant must be derivatively liable to the defendant, not just also liable to the plaintiff. Usually this means they are higher up in the supply chain or an insurance company.

In comparative fault states a joint tortfeasor can bring an action for contribution as third-party practice.

  • However, no contribution is allowed for intentional torts.
  • Virginia allows contribution unless the tort involved moral turpitude.

The plaintiff and third-party may afterwards assert any claims arising out of of the same transaction or occurrence and defenses thereto, as long as it is consistent with complete diversity as required in 28 U.S.C. § 1367(b).

Intervention of Right

A defendant must be allowed to intervene if:

  1. A statute gives him the right to intervene, or
  2. He has an interest in the subject matter of the suit that would be impaired and not adequately represented by a present party.
    • In determining if a present party adequately represents an interest, three factors are used:
      • Amount at stake
      • Ability and resources of parties
      • Any conflicts of interests

Rule 24(a).

One cannot intervene as a plaintiff if it would defeat complete diversity.

One can intervene as a defendant even if it would regardless of diversity, and a plaintiff cannot sue a newly-added defendant if it would be inconsistent with complete diversity.

Courts will often treat stare decisis as an interest in the subject matter.

Permissive Intervention

A court may allow anyone to intervene who has a claim or defense that shares a common question of law or fact with the main action.

Rule 24(b).

The court has wide discretion in this determination.

The delay or prejudice that would occur is major factor that the must consider. Rule 24(b)(3).