Civil Procedure II

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).