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Overview Edit

Joinder in civil cases falls under two categories: "joinder of claims" and "joinder of parties."

Joinder of claims Edit

Joinder of claims is addressed in U.S. law by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 18(a). That Rule allows claimants to consolidate all claims that they have against an individual who is already a party to the case. Claimants may bring new claims even if these new claims are not related to the claims already stated. Joinder of claims is never compulsory (i.e., joinder is always permissive), and that joinder of claims requires that the court's subject matter jurisdiction requirements regarding the new claims be met for each new claim.

Joinder of parties Edit

Joinder of parties also falls into two categories: "permissive joinder" and "compulsory joinder."

Permissive joinder Edit

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, Rule 20 addresses permissive joinder. Permissive joinder allows multiple plaintiffs to join in an action if each of their claims arise from the same transaction or occurrence, and if there is a common question of law or fact relating to all plaintiffs' claims. Permissive joinder is also appropriate to join multiple defendants, as long as the same considerations as for joining multiple plaintiffs are met. The court must have personal jurisdiction over every defendant joined in the action, as the court has no authority under Rule 20 to exercise supplemental jurisdiction.

There are two requirements for joinder under Rule 20:

(1) a right to relief must be asserted by, or against, each plaintiff or Defendant relating to or arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (2) some question of law or fact common to all the parties must arise in the action.

The determination of whether the situation constitutes the same transaction or occurrence for purposes of Rule 20 is determined on a case-by-case basis.[1] “Under the Rules, the impulse is toward entertaining the broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged.”[2]

Rules 18 and 20 have different effects depending on when they are invoked. If part of an original pleading, they will form part of the case. However, if the time for modifying the pleadings has passed, the pleading must be amended through application of the amending rule.[3] There is a discretionary period during which original pleadings may be amended, that is as a matter of course at the beginning of trial, and later with the discretion of the opposing party or judge. Rules 18 and 20 delineate who can be joined. However, if not pleaded originally, parties can be brought in only by way of amendment. Rule 15 describes the process for amending a claim.

Compulsory joinder Edit

Under the concept of compulsory joinder, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 19 mandates that some parties be joined. Parties that must be joined are those necessary and indispensable to the litigation. Note, though, that while "necessary" parties must be joined if that joinder is possible, the litigation will continue without them if joinder is impossible. If "indispensable" parties cannot be joined, by contrast, the litigation cannot go forward.

Under Rule 42 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court, if actions involve a common question of law or fact, may join any or all issues, consolidate the actions or issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay. The court may also, for convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite or improve economy, order a separate trial of one or more separate issues or claims.

References Edit

  1. Fed. R. Civ. P. 20.
  2. United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724, (1966) (full-text).
  3. Fed. R. Civ. P., Rule 15a.

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